Carnegie Mellon University

Four children dressed as superheroes

February 04, 2021

CMU’s Commitment to Maintaining a Safe and Secure Environment for Minors

A key part of Carnegie Mellon University's mission is to "impact society in a transformative way — regionally, nationally, and globally — by engaging with partners outside the traditional borders of the university campus." Minor children who participate in programs or activities conducted on CMU premises, as well as off-campus programs or activities sponsored by the university, are one such group of partners. Every member of the Carnegie Mellon community has a responsibility to maintain a safe and secure environment for minors involved in CMU programs, activities and operations.

State Law

The Pennsylvania Child Protective Services Law (CPSL) outlines clearance requirements for employees of higher education institutions who interact with minors. The following child protection clearances are required for all individuals who interact with minors as part of their job or for a CMU program or activity: Pennsylvania Access to Criminal History (PATCH), Pennsylvania Child Abuse History (PACA), Federal Criminal History Background Check (FBI Fingerprint).

The CPSL does not apply to university employees whose only interactions with children under the age of 18 are limited to matriculated students (enrolled, degree-seeking) and/or visiting prospective students. As such, most Carnegie Mellon employees are not required to obtain child protection clearances in order to perform their job responsibilities. But if an employee's duties include direct contact with children under the age of 18 who are not matriculated students or visiting prospective students, the employee may be required to obtain background certifications under the CPSL.

CMU's Policy

In 2016, to comply with the CPSL and to support a safe and secure campus environment, Carnegie Mellon University adopted the Policy on the Protection of Children in Carnegie Mellon University Programs, Activities and Facilities. The policy established program registration, child protection clearance and mandatory reporting requirements for the CMU community, and it established Child Protection Operations as the entity responsible for evaluation and administration of these requirements.

  • Program Registration: Programs and activities involving minors must register with Child Protection Operations before commencing.
  • Child Protection Clearances: Faculty, staff, students, contractors and volunteers who interact with minors — whether as a job responsibility or through participation in a program — must satisfy the background clearance requirements.
  • Mandatory Reporting: CMU employees and student workers, regardless of whether they have direct contact with minors, are mandatory reporters of child abuse. In addition, volunteers who are responsible for the welfare of a minor or who have direct contact with minors are also mandatory reporters. 

Resources and Further Information

Child Protection Operations has a dedicated webpage on which resources related to compliance with the policy can be found. The page provides specific information on how and what clearances must be obtained, and it provides information about registering programs that involve non-matriculated minors. Additionally, the page provides further information on mandatory reporting requirements.

The Child Protection Operations team is available to answer any questions you may have related to this topic. You can reach out to Karen Whistler Eck with any questions or concerns. 

The HR Update quarterly newsletter will be doing a four-part series to introduce the team, their work, and what you need to know regarding compliance with university policy and state law.