Learning more about Act 153 and Background Certifications
Pennsylvania Act 153 was originally passed by the legislature in October 2014 and was subsequently amended on July 1, 2015. Act 153 amended the background certification requirements of the Pennsylvania Child Protective Services Law for certain employees, volunteers and other individuals who interact with minors. In particular, Act 153 altered the criminal background check requirements for employees of institutions of higher education who interact with minors. Departments and individual supervisors are responsible for determining whether their employees must obtain background certifications. This guidance is designed to assist department administrators in determining whether Act 153 requires a particular employee to obtain background certifications. A separate guidance document addresses Act 153 with respect to volunteers.
Please note that whether a background certification is required for a particular employee may change as the employee’s role at the university changes. Thus, department administrators should refer to this guidance as personnel move in and out of positions and when personnel take on new roles or responsibilities as an employee. In addition, Section IX of this guidance summarizes mandatory reporting obligations under Act 153. The mandatory reporting obligations are applicable to all employees and volunteers, regardless of whether the individual is required to obtain background certifications. This guidance focuses on the minimum legal requirements of Act 153. Nothing in this guidance prevents individual departments or programs from adopting stricter background certification requirements (e.g. for administrative convenience and/or risk management).