Pa. waives background-check fees for school volunteers

Fees for child-abuse clearances and criminal background checks required for volunteers working with children under the state's new child Protective Services Law will be waived, Gov. Wolf announced Wednesday.

For others, including those who work with children, such as teachers, the cost will be reduced from $10, to $8.

Beginning July 1, volunteers are required to obtain background checks, including the Child Abuse History Clearance, issued by the Department of Human Services, and the Criminal History Record Check, issued by the Pennsylvania State Police. The law was passed in the aftermath of the Jerry Sandusky child sexual-abuse case at Penn State.

FBI clearances also are required for all those who have not been a continuous resident of the commonwealth for the last 10 years, but because these are administered by the federal government, the $27.50 fees will continue to apply.

Schools and other organizations that work with children have said the cost of complying with the law might put off volunteers.

The law applies to a wide range of people working or volunteering with children, from school bus drivers to foster parents. Hundreds of thousands of people have already applied for clearances since the law was enacted in December, officials said.

- Kathy Boccella