Pennsylvania recently changed many of its child welfare laws in ways which affect Religious Education at BuxMont. Policy is still the process of being adapted, but I wanted to quickly note some of the major changes so that you’ll have them on your radar going forward.
- Effective July 1, we will be required to have on file a PA Criminal Record Check, a PA Child Abuse Check, and an FBI Fingerprint Criminal Record Check for each volunteer or paid staff member who works regularly with children. This is a change for us because in the past we have used an on-line clearinghouse service which checked records nationally and locally, but the reports were not issued through Pennsylvania’s system. Every other organization which helps volunteers work with children will be requiring this too; if you already have your background check documentation on hand, you will need to bring it in so we can copy it. If you haven’t gone through this process yet, we will work with you to make sure it is completed in a timely fashion. The three checks in total cost just under $50; we will appreciate the contribution of those who are able to pay for their own, but we can subsidize this cost for anyone for whom it is a burden.
- All volunteers and paid staff who work regularly with children at BuxMont are now Mandated Reporters of child abuse and neglect. If that’s you, it means that should you have reason to suspect (in the course of your work here) that a child is being abused or neglected, you are required to report to ChildLine. Afterwards, you will report that you reported to me or another person designated by policy, so that I can make sure that BuxMont cooperates with any investigation as needed. There are serious penalties for knowingly submitting a false report or failing to submit a report when you should have.
I’m happy to answer any questions you may have about these changes. In some ways, we are ahead of this game: BuxMont has been requiring background checks for volunteers working with children for a long, long time. We also have a variety of policies, procedures, and most importantly practices which protect our children. We have a culture of creating safe community for children, youth, and adults to experience sharing, caring, and learning together.