Carnegie Mellon University

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July 27, 2021

Child Protection Clearances

As you may recall, in May 2021 we provided you with information about requirements for programs involving minors as a part of our series on CMU’s commitment to maintaining a safe and secure environment for minors. The third installment of the series provides an overview of the Child Protection Clearances that are required for interactions with minors.


In 2016, in compliance with the Pennsylvania Child Protective Services Law and in support of a safe and secure campus environment, the university adopted the Policy on the Protection of Children in Carnegie Mellon University Programs, Activities and Facilities. The policy established registration requirements for programs and activities involving minors, completion of Child Protection Clearances for individuals interacting with minors, and mandatory reporting requirements for the CMU community. It also established Child Protection Operations as the entity responsible for evaluation and administration of these requirements.

The Pennsylvania Child Protective Services Law requires employees, volunteers and other individuals who interact with minors to obtain three different clearances:

  • Pennsylvania Access to Criminal History (PATCH) through the Pennsylvania State Police
  • Pennsylvania Child Abuse History (PACA) through the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services
  • FBI Criminal History Background Check (FBI Fingerprint); requires the individual to submit their fingerprints to the FBI

The Child Protective Services Law requires that certifications be renewed every 60 months (five years).

Faculty, staff, students and other individuals who interact with minors in-person or via remote/virtual platforms on behalf of Carnegie Mellon University are required to obtain Child Protection Clearances. Clearances are required for the following:

  • Individuals who interact with minors as a part of their position and/or job responsibility
  • Individuals who participate in CMU programs, research, courses and/or outreach activities involving minors

How to Obtain Child Protection Clearances

Regardless of why Child Protection Clearances are required, the process for applying for and obtaining the clearances is the same and generally takes three or more weeks to complete. The Child Protection Operations team will work closely with any individual in need of clearances to help facilitate the process.

It is advised that individuals begin the clearance process as soon as they are notified. Failure to obtain Child Protection Clearances in a timely manner may impact an individual’s job responsibilities (as it relates to interactions with minors) or ability to participate in a program involving minors. For more information on this process, please visit the Child Protection Clearances (Act 153) page.

Resources and Further Information

The Child Protection Operations team is available to answer any questions you may have related to Child Protection Clearances or other requirements involving working with minors. Please visit OHR’s Child Protection Operations page for more information. Additionally, Karen Whistler Eck is available to assist with any questions or concerns.

The HR Update quarterly newsletter is 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.