Frequently Asked Questions

Compliance with Pennsylvania's Child Protective Services Law [1]

Q.1 How do I report suspected child abuse that has any connection to the University?

A. Anyone affiliated with the University who has reasonable cause to suspect child abuse, including but not limited to sexual abuse, shall make an immediate and direct report to ChildLine either electronically at compass.state.pa.us/cwis or by calling 1-800-932-0313. Immediately thereafter, the individual must also make an immediate and direct report to the University Police or the Office of General Counsel. Retaliation is strictly prohibited against anyone who makes a good faith report of suspected child abuse or who participates in a related investigation. Visit keepkidssafe.pa.gov/ for more information. 

Q.2 What are key phone numbers I should be aware of for reporting child abuse?

A. Phone Numbers:

  • PA Department of Human Services ChildLine for Abuse Reporting: 1-800-932-0313
  • University Police: 412-624-2121
  • Office of General Counsel: 412-624-5674
  • Off-Campus Emergency: 911

Q.3 What is the definition of a "child" for purposes of reporting suspected child abuse?

A. An individual under 18 years of age.

Q.4 Where can I receive training on preventing, recognizing, and reporting child abuse?

A. If you will have direct contact with children, the University recommends that you are trained on the protection of children. One place you may receive training on recognizing and reporting child abuse is through reportabusepa.pitt.edu.  The PA Department of Human Services collaborated with the University’s School of Social Work, Pennsylvania Child Welfare Resource Center in developing this free, publically available training program.  Moreover, the PA Department of Human Services and each county agency will conduct a continuing publicity and education program for the citizens of this Commonwealth aimed at the prevention of child abuse and child neglect. The Department of Human Services will provide information related to the recognition and reporting of child abuse on its website in forms; including, but not limited to, printable booklets and brochures, educational videos, and internet-based interactive training exercises. For more information from the Department of Human Services on training requirements and services, visit keepkidssafe.pa.gov/training/index.htm.

 Q.5 Who must obtain and submit child protection clearances?

A. Relevant Definitions

  • "Child."  An individual under 18 years of age
  • "Direct contact with children."  The care, supervision, guidance or control of children or Routine Interaction with children.
  • "Direct volunteer contact."  Care, supervision, guidance or control of children and Routine Interaction with children.
  • "Exception."  An employee of an institution of higher education whose direct contact with children, in the course of employment, is limited to either:
    1. Prospective students visiting a campus operated by the institution of higher education;
    2. Matriculated students who are enrolled with the institution and not also enrolled in a secondary institution. 
  • "Matriculated Student."  A student who is enrolled in an institution of higher education and pursuing a program of study that results in a postsecondary credential, such as a certificate, diploma or degree.
  • "Routine Interaction."  Regular and repeated contact that is integral to a person’s employment or volunteer responsibilities.

B. Minimum Legal Requirements  – The Pennsylvania Child Protective Services Law permits more stringent requirements than the minimum required by law, and the University may exceed these minimum requirements as it deems necessary and appropriate.

C. New University Employees and Appointees – Prior to commencement of employment or appointment, new employees and appointees who will have “direct contact with children” not subject to the “Exception” must satisfactorily obtain and present directly to Human Resources the following three child protection clearances: 1. Pennsylvania Department of Human Services Child Abuse History Clearance; 2. Pennsylvania State Police Criminal Record Check and 3. FBI Criminal Record Check. The State has posted information on how to obtain these three clearances. Additional information can be found from the Office of Human Resources.  Under limited circumstances, a new employee or appointee who has applied for, but not yet received, all three clearances may be allowed up to a 90 day provisional work/appointment period pending receipt of the clearances if certain strict requirements are met.  Please consult with Human Resources about the necessary requirements for a provisional period. 

D. Current University Employees and Appointees – By law, by no later than December 31, 2015, all current employees and appointees who have “direct contact with children” not subject to the “Exception” must satisfactorily obtain and present to Human Resources the following three child protection clearances: 1. Pennsylvania Department of Human Services Child Abuse History Clearance, 2. Pennsylvania State Police Criminal Record Check, and 3. FBI Criminal Record Check.  Moreover, on an ongoing basis, current employees and appointees who previously did not need the clearances will need to satisfactorily obtain and present them to Human Resources if their work/appointment will now result in “direct contact with children” that is not subject to the “Exception.”  For example, clearances will be required from an employee who did not previously need to obtain them if the employee is reassigned to a new human research subject study involving children, has a high school student enroll in his or her course, or participates in a summer camp/mentoring program involving children.

E.  Activities Involving Direct Contact with Children 

  1. Registration - Responsibility Centers are required to register with Human Resources any camp, clinic, program or similar activity (“Activity”) that may result in “direct contact with children,” including Activities owned and operated by the University as well as Activities occurring on our campuses owned or operated by a third party other than the University.  This includes, but is not limited to, registration of camps, mentoring programs or academic programs that permit children enrolled in elementary or secondary schools to participate in educational programming, such as research experiences.  Upon registration of the Activity, Human Resources will provide additional instructions to the Department/Responsibility Center regarding preparing a roster of Activity employees and volunteers as well as instructions for obtaining, reviewing and submitting all required child protection clearances for the Activity.   
  2. Activity Volunteers - If you are an unpaid volunteer at an Activity as defined in the “Registration” section immediately above (“Volunteer”) and you will be responsible for the child’s welfare or have “direct volunteer contact” with children, you must have the: (1) Pennsylvania State Police Criminal Record Check, (2) Pennsylvania Department of Human Services Child Abuse History Clearance, and (3) FBI Criminal Record Check.  Direct Volunteer Contact is defined as the care, supervision, guidance OR control of children and “Routine Interaction” with children. A limited exception exists whereby, under certain conditions, Volunteers who have lived in Pennsylvania for the past 10 years do not need to obtain the FBI Criminal Record Check. Please consult with Human Resources about the necessary requirements to invoke this exception.  

F. Portability/Age of Valid Clearances

  1. Employees and Paid Appointees – By law, new and current employees and paid appointees may use clearances that are less than 60 months old and that were not obtained for volunteer service.  However, all employees and paid appointees who use clearances less than 60 months old that were originally obtained for another employer must also sign a disclosure statement to swear or affirm that they have not committed a disqualifying offense. 
  2. Unpaid Volunteers and Unpaid Appointees – The law permits unpaid volunteers and unpaid “volunteer” appointees to use clearances that are less than 60 months old regardless of whether the clearance was previously obtained for the purpose of employment or volunteer service.  However, prior to commencement of service, an individual who relies upon a clearance originally obtained for another entity must sign a disclosure statement to swear or affirm that they have not committed a disqualifying offense. 

G. Recertification – Clearances for anyone who is required to have them must be renewed every 60 months from the date of the individual’s oldest certification.

H. Vendors - Requirements for service vendors and contractors of the University, if any, depend upon the individual facts and circumstances and are addressed in the individual contracts with such vendors and contractors.  Questions should be directed to the Office of General Counsel. 

Q.6 What child abuse records or criminal convictions constitute grounds for denying employment, appointment or volunteer service for individuals with "direct contact" or "direct volunteer contact" with children?

A. Employment, appointment or volunteer service must be denied if the Department of Human Services has verified that the individual is named in the Statewide database as the perpetrator of a founded report of child abuse committed within the past five-years.  In addition, an individual is disqualified from employment, appointment or volunteer service if the State Police or FBI Criminal Record checks indicate that the individual has been convicted of one or more of the following offenses under Pennsylvania law or an offense similar in nature under Federal law, the law of another state or the law of any other foreign or domestic jurisdiction:

(1) An offense under one or more of the following provisions of Title 18 of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes:

A. Chapter 25 (relating to criminal homicide).

B. Section 2702 (relating to aggravated assault).

C. Section 2709.1 (relating to stalking).

D. Section 2901 (relating to kidnapping).

E. Section 2902 (relating to unlawful restraint).

F. Section 3121 (relating to rape).

G. Section 3122.1 (relating to statutory sexual assault).

H. Section 3123 (relating to involuntary deviate sexual intercourse).

I. Section 3124.1 (relating to sexual assault).

J. Section 3125 (relating to aggravated indecent assault).

K. Section 3126 (relating to indecent assault).

L. Section 3127 (relating to indecent exposure).

M. Section 4302 (relating to incest).

N. Section 4303 (relating to concealing death of child).

O. Section 4304 (relating to endangering welfare of children).

P. Section 4305 (relating to dealing in infant children).

Q. A felony offense under section 5902(b) (relating to prostitution and related offenses).

R. Section 5903(c) or (d) (relating to obscene and other sexual materials and performances).

S. Section 6301(relating to corruption of minors).

T. Section 6312 (relating to sexual abuse of children).

U. The attempt, solicitation or conspiracy to commit any of the offenses set forth above.

(2) A felony offense under the act of April 14, 1972 (P.L. 233, No. 64), known as “The Controlled Substance, Drug, Device and Cosmetic Act” (35 P.S. 780-101 et seq.) committed within the past five years.

 Q.7 Must employees, appointees and volunteers who have direct contact with children report new arrests, convictions or substantiated child abuse?

A. Yes. The law requires an employee, appointee or volunteer who has direct contact with children to provide written notice within 72 hours of any arrest or conviction that would constitute grounds for denying employment or participation in a program, activity or service, or who is named as a perpetrator in a founded or indicated report of child abuse. A list of the offenses that would constitute grounds for reporting an arrest or a conviction is listed under the answer to the question immediately above.  Any written reports should be submitted to: Robert W. Hartman, Assistant Vice Chancellor, Employee Relations, Office of Human Resources, University of Pittsburgh, 502 Craig Hall, 200 S. Craig Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15260 (robertwh@pitt.edu).

Q.8 If I am a student, must I have child protection clearances?

A. As a general rule, students do not need to obtain child protection clearances. However, student volunteers who have “direct volunteer contact” with children and student employees who have “direct contact with children” are subject to the same child protection clearance requirements as other volunteers and employees except as noted below for student volunteers. Moreover, students who will have “direct contact” with children in connection with their academic program, such as student teachers in an elementary or secondary school, will be required to obtain child protection clearances. Students should refer to their school or departmental requirements that are usually found in the school’s student handbook.

By law, a student volunteer does not have to obtain the clearances if all the following apply:

  • The student is currently enrolled at the University
  • The student is not a person responsible for the child’s welfare
  • The student is volunteering for an event that occurs on campus
  • The event is sponsored by the University
  • The event is not for children who are in the care of a child-care service.

Q. 9 Who at the University will review and retain employee and appointee clearances?

A. Human Resources will be responsible for collecting, reviewing and retaining copies of the clearances for employees and appointees.  Human Resources will consult with other offices, such as the Office of General Counsel, on an as needed basis depending on the results of the clearances.

Q.10 Where can I get more information on Pennsylvania’s Child Protective Services Law and on how to protect children?

A. The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services has posted information at keepkidssafe.pa.gov/.  The University of Pittsburgh School of Social Work, Pennsylvania Child Welfare Resource Center has posted information regarding child welfare pacwrc.pitt.edu/.  Questions about University child protection processes and procedures should be directed to your responsibility center’s administrator or to Human Resources.

 

[1] Due to evolving best practices and legal requirements, these compliance guidelines are subject to change with or without notice.