The PA Act 15 Volunteer Clearances are a state law, initiated to promote the safety of children. All volunteers working with minors…whether in schools, churches, athletics, scouts, etc….all must complete these clearances by law. USCSD is requiring these clearances for any volunteers who have direct contact with children at any school-related event. Because almost all USC BPA volunteer opportunities involve working with students, the BPA encourages all band parents to have their clearances completed.
The PA Governor’s office realized that the cost of clearances was standing in the way of recruiting volunteers, and so they have waived the costs for two of the three clearances. And the third is only required of people who have not lived in PA for 10 consecutive years. The three clearances are as follows:
- Act 34 Criminal History Check—this can be done online and is at no cost to you.
- Act 151 PA Child Abuse History Check—this can be done online and is at no cost to you.
- Act 114 FBI Criminal History Report—this is for people who have not lived in PA for 10 consecutive years. Because it is a federal report and not a state one, the cost is not waived, and an online payment of $27 via credit or debit card is needed at the beginning of the process.
(For people who have lived in PA for 10 consecutive years, an affidavit can be printed from the USCSD website, signed, and submitted electronically.)
If you have already completed the clearances for another area of volunteer service or for a job, or if you have been FBI fingerprinted within the last 10 years, you can submit copies of these clearances and do not need to repeat them. All clearances are good for 5 years.
To obtain your clearances, go to www.uscsd.k12.pa.us. At the top, select a school. From any school's page, the Volunteer Clearance Information is located in the central box. Just scroll down until you see it. This information is no longer located on the main district page, you have to choose a school. Once you click on this, you will be directed to an informational page, and at the top is a bullet link to click on, "Completing Your Volunteer Clearances". Clicking on this gives you direct links to all three clearances and the affidavit. Regarding the fingerprinting in particular--follow the directions provided on the link for Cogent to register. The actual fingerprinting can now be performed at the USC Police Department. Go to www.twpusc.org/police/community-services for information about making an appointment to have your fingerprints taken electronically. Appointments are required.
Once you have obtained your clearances, you must send them electronically to this email: firstname.lastname@example.org . It is important for you to keep your originals and only submit copies. If you have questions, need further directions, or need to print off the affidavit form, return to the school webpage you worked from and refer to the FAQ's section. If you have questions not answered here, please contact Mrs. Amy Pfender at the USCSD Central Office, at email@example.com.
Now that you have all the needed information, please get your clearances ASAP, if you have not already. It takes time for them to process, and we need to have volunteers cleared now. While the state clearances can be done online with quick results, the fingerprinting is not done online and takes a longer period of time, sometimes up to 2-4 weeks. Submitting to Central Office and receiving the "all clear" adds on additional time. So please do not hesitate and begin this process ASAP. Parents in the past have waited too long, and ended up not able to serve because their clearances were not completed or the submission not cleared by Central Office prior to the event. So if you do not have your clearances done, the time is now! Before any volunteer opportunity, the chairperson over the volunteers contacts Central Office to ensure the volunteers are cleared.
Our organization greatly depends on each and every one of you. Our appreciation of you and your volunteer time is beyond measure…we could not serve our kids the way we do without every set of hands that voluntarily helps out. We understand that this clearance process is a frustrating thing, but it is a requirement we must abide by. We thank you for taking the time to get them completed quickly, so we can work side by side with you, enjoying our kids as they make us proud!
Rhoda Smith (Chaperone Chair)
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