Carnegie Mellon University

Policy on the Protection of Children in Carnegie Mellon University Programs, Activities and Facilities

Policy Title Protection of Children in Carnegie Mellon University Programs, Activities and Facilities
Policy Owner Office of the Vice President and General Counsel
Responsible Office Office of the Assistant Vice Provost for Educational Outreach (AVPEO)
Contact Information Questions on Policy content should be directed to the Child Protection Operations Office, 412-268-3291.
Pertinent Dates This Policy was approved on an interim basis in May 2016.  The final Policy was approved April 14, 2017.
Approved By The president of Carnegie Mellon University.
Entities Affected By This Policy All units of the university.
Who Needs to Know About This Policy All faculty, staff, students, contractors and volunteers. All departments or entities that develop, sponsor or fund these programs or activities.
Definitions n/a
Forms / Instructions How to Apply for Act 153 Background Certifications
Related Information

Pennsylvania Child Protection Services Law

Mandatory Reporting
Reason for Policy / Purpose Carnegie Mellon is committed to providing a safe and secure environment for all minors involved in any programs or activities conducted on university premises, as well as any off-campus programs or activities sponsored by the university.
Abstract The purpose of this policy is to set forth guiding principles and standards as well as to outline requirements, procedures and guidelines for Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) programs and activities that involve minor children (under the age of 18). 

Policy Statement

The mission of Carnegie Mellon University includes creating and disseminating knowledge and art through research, creative inquiry, teaching and learning and transferring our intellectual and artistic product to enhance society in meaningful and sustainable ways. Pursuing this mission includes engagement, outreach, and service to the community. In particular, Carnegie Mellon endeavors to support improvements in early childhood education, primary and secondary education, including pre-college, through research, education, recreation, and community service.  These endeavors also enhance the professional and personal growth of Carnegie Mellon students. This engagement with the broader community necessarily involves interaction with minor children (under the age of 18). Carnegie Mellon is committed to providing a safe and secure environment for all minors involved in any programs or activities conducted on university premises, as well as any off-campus programs or activities sponsored by the university. This Policy sets forth the university’s legal obligations, requirements for and the expectations of faculty, staff, students, contractors, and volunteers who operate and/or participate in such programs. The purpose of this Policy is to ensure the safety and well-being of minors while setting high standards to encourage the pursuit of excellence in our engagement, outreach, and service to the community. All members of the Carnegie Mellon community, including faculty, staff, students, contractors, and volunteers, are expected to act in accordance with this policy.

This policy describes three separate and independent requirements: 

  • First, in Section II, it describes a “Program Registration” requirement which will allow the university to ensure that programs involving minors satisfy the requirements of the Pennsylvania Child Protective Services Law, as amended by Pennsylvania Act 153, as well as other best practices related to health, safety, program operation, parental permission, risk management, etc.
  • Second, in Section III, the Policy sets forth the requirements for background certifications that are required by the Pennsylvania Child Protective Services Law Act when working with minors. These requirements are independent of the program registration requirements in Section II. Before working with minors, please make sure of your obligations under both Sections II and III.
  • Third, in Section IV, the Policy sets forth the requirements for the mandatory reporting of suspected child abuse under the Pennsylvania Child Protective Services Law.

I. Definitions

  1. The terms “child,” “minor” and “minor child” are defined as any individual less than eighteen (18) years of age.*
  2. “Matriculated Student” is defined as a student who is enrolled at Carnegie Mellon and pursuing a program of study that results in a postsecondary credential, such as a certificate, diploma or degree.* 
  3. “School Employee” is defined as an individual who is employed by Carnegie Mellon or who provides a program, activity or service sponsored by Carnegie Mellon. This includes any faculty member, staff member or student-employee.*
  4. "Responsible Individual" is defined as the individual designated by a program or activity involving minors who is responsible for the administration of the program and compliance with this Policy. Depending on the nature of the program or activity involving minors, the responsible individual may be a faculty member, staff member, student, contractor, volunteer or a third-party.
  5. For purpose of Section II of this Policy, "Programs and Activities Involving Minors" is defined as any program, event, or activity involving one or more individuals under the age of 18 that is either:
      1. Sponsored, funded and/or operated by any Carnegie Mellon administrative unit, academic unit, or student organization, regardless of location. This includes programs and activities conducted on-campus, off-campus, or remotely via the internet or other means of communication; or
      2. Sponsored, funded and/or operated by a third-party entity and conducted on university property.

    The definition of Programs and Activities Involving Minors does not include:[ 1]

      1. Academic courses and related programs or activities, where the only minors involved are Matriculated Students, visiting prospective students and visiting / non-degree students. (Note:  The University Registrar’s Office monitors non-degree students who are minor children and such students are only permitted to register for a class if the instructor, in his/her sole discretion, is willing and able to obtain appropriate background certifications under Pennsylvania law.)
      2. Any program or activity conducted on University property where the only minors involved are Matriculated Students and/or visiting prospective students.
      3. Intercollegiate events where the only minors involved are Matriculated Students or students enrolled at another institution of higher education;
      4. Events open to the general public where parents/guardians are required or expected to provide supervision for their children (e.g. a sporting event or a theater production).
      5. Minors who are employees of Carnegie Mellon and are paid at least a minimum wage (note: co-workers of employees who are under the age of 18 may be required to obtain background certifications under Pennsylvania Law).[2]
      6. Human subjects research studies involving minor children that have been approved by the Institutional Review Board (note: the Office of Research Integrity Compliance will notify the AVPEO of any human subjects research studies involving minors so that there will be no need to separately register).
      7. Routine interactions between family and friends.

II. Requirements for Programs and Activities Involving Minors

All programs and activities involving minors must satisfy the following requirements:
  1. All programs must register with the Office of the Assistant Vice Provost for Educational Outreach (AVPEO) and receive approval prior to engaging in any interactions with minors.  The AVPEO will coordinate with each program or activity to develop appropriate procedures and training to ensure the welfare and security of minors who participate in the program:  https://www.cmu.edu/child-protection.
  2. The review process conducted by AVPEO will be based on the unique circumstances of each program and include consideration of the following key factors among others: the nature of the program; the duration of the program; the entity sponsoring the program; the responsible individual(s); the number of participants and age ranges; the number of supervising adults; the facilities to be used; use of overnight accommodations; potential health and safety concerns (e.g. laboratory use, machinery, swimming pools, motor vehicles); transportation; protocols for accidents, injuries and emergencies; health and wellness plans; protocols for drop-off and pick-up; and one-on-one private interactions with minors.
  3. Written permission must be obtained from each minor's parent/guardian prior to the minor's participation in any program administered by Carnegie Mellon and/or any program administered by a third party on Carnegie Mellon property.
  4. Each program must identify a responsible individual who will be responsible for the administration of the program and compliance with this policy. Notwithstanding the requirements of and/or exceptions to the Pennsylvania Child Protective Services Law or similar laws of other jurisdictions, the responsible individual must have valid background certifications under the Pennsylvania Child Protective Services Law or similar laws of the applicable jurisdiction.
  5. In addition to background certifications required by law as described in Section III below, each program must ensure that at least one individual who has received certifications under the Pennsylvania Child Protective Services Law and appropriate training is on-site during the program or activity. That is, even if applicable law does not require any individual in a program to obtain background certifications, at least one individual on-site during the program or activity must have a background certification and appropriate training.
  6. The college, department, unit, or student organization sponsoring the program may adopt background certification standards more stringent than the minimum required by law, such that any individuals participating in a program may be required to obtain background certifications even where such certification is not required by the Pennsylvania Child Protective Services Law or other applicable laws.

III. Background Certification

All faculty, staff, students, contractors, and volunteers must satisfy the background certification requirements for interacting with minors in the applicable jurisdiction. Specifically, it is the policy of Carnegie Mellon University to comply with the background certification provisions of the Pennsylvania Child Protective Services Law (23 Pa C.S.A. § 6303 et. seq.), as amended by Pennsylvania Act 153 of 2014. Detailed information regarding the requirements of and exceptions to the Pennsylvania Child Protective Services Law is available at www.cmu.edu/hr/act-153/index.html.[3]  

These background certification requirements are separate from the program registration requirements set forth in Section II. Even though a position, activity, or program does not meet the definition of program or activity involving minors requiring registration under Section II, the Pennsylvania Child Protective Services Law (or similar laws in other jurisdictions) may still require background certifications.

As noted above, the University Registrar’s Office monitors non-degree students who are minor children and such students are only permitted to register for an undergraduate or graduate class if the instructor, in his/her sole discretion, is willing and able to obtain appropriate background certifications under Pennsylvania law.

Every employee and volunteer who is subject to the background certification requirements of this section has an obligation to notify the university if he/she is arrested for, or convicted of, any offense prohibited by the Pennsylvania Child Protective Services Law. Notice of arrests or convictions must be provided within seventy-two (72) hours. Notice should be submitted to the immediate supervisor of the employee or volunteer.

If the university receives notice of an arrest or conviction for a prohibited offense or has reasonable cause to believe that an employee or volunteer has been arrested or convicted of a prohibited offense, the university will require the employee or volunteer to immediately obtain new background certifications. In such cases, the university may prohibit the individual from working with minor children pending receipt of new background certification.

IV. Mandatory Reporting

Under the Pennsylvania Child Protective Services Law all school employees are mandatory reporters of child abuse. Volunteers who are responsible for the welfare of a minor or who have direct contact with minors are also Mandatory Reporters. 

Reports of child abuse must be immediately submitted to both:

    1. The Pennsylvania Department of Human Resources. Reports may be submitted:
      1. Orally via the Child Hotline at 1-800-932-0313; or
      2. Electronically via the website https://www.compass.state.pa.us/cwis/public/home.
    2. Carnegie Mellon University Officials. Reports may be submitted to:
      1. Your supervisor, or
      2. University Police, or
      3. Office of General Counsel

By law a mandatory report must be immediately filed if there is reasonable cause to suspect that a minor is the victim of child abuse in the following circumstances:

  • The Mandatory Reporter comes into contact with the minor in the course of employment, occupation and practice of a profession or through a regularly scheduled program, activity, or service;
  • The Mandatory Reporter is directly responsible for the care, supervision, guidance, or training of the minor, or is affiliated with an agency, institution, organization, school, regularly established church or religious organization or other entity that is directly responsible for the care, supervision, guidance or training of a minor;
  • A person makes a specific disclosure to the Mandatory Reporter that an identifiable minor is the victim of child abuse;
  • An individual fourteen (14) years of age or older makes a specific disclosure to the Mandatory Reporter that the individual has committed child abuse.

Members of the university community located outside of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania are expected to comply with any mandatory reporting laws of the applicable jurisdiction. Questions regarding mandatory reporting requirements in other jurisdictions should be submitted to the Office of the General Counsel. 

Additional information about mandatory reporting laws in Pennsylvania, as well as other jurisdictions is available at http://www.cmu.edu/ogc/act_153/index.html.


[1] Exclusion from the definition of Programs and Activities Involving Minors does not necessarily exempt individual faculty, staff, students, contractors, volunteers, or other third parties from compliance with the requirements of Section III regarding background certifications. Rather, exclusion from this definition exempts the activity from the registration requirements in Section II.

[2] Unpaid internships (where permitted by applicable government regulations and HR guidelines) are not exempt from the definition of Programs & Activities Involving Minors.

[3] The Pennsylvania Child Protective Services Law (CPSL), as amended by Pennsylvania Act 153, requires any University employee who has Direct Contact (as that term is defined under the CPSL) with children under the age of 18 to obtain certain background certifications. However, the CPSL does not apply to University employees whose only interactions with children under the age of 18 are limited to matriculated students and/or visiting prospective students. As such, most employees of Carnegie Mellon are not required to obtain background certifications in order to perform their job duties. 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. For more information see www.cmu.edu/hr/act-153/index.html.

 *These definitions are based on the Pennsylvania Child Protective Services Law.