Background checks are required for any parent registering children, or anyone volunteering for children’s ministry, per the commonwealth of PA child protection laws passed in 2014. If you are currently volunteering in children’s ministry at Grace Community Church, you should already have these clearances.
In Pennsylvania, this three step clearance process involves:
Step 1: Obtaining a criminal record check from the Pennsylvania State Police.
Step 2: Obtaining a child abuse clearance from the Department of Human Services.
Step 3A OR Step 3B:
3A: Providing GCC with a signed affidavit swearing you have not been convicted of crimes towards minors, if you have been a resident of PA for the last 10 continuous years or more.
3B: Obtaining a FBI Fingerprinting Clearance (in lieu of step 3A), if you have lived in PA for less than the last 10 continuous years.
Instructions on how to obtain these clearances is detailed below. Feel free to contact the church office with questions you may have as you pursue your clearances.
Instructions for Obtaining Pennsylvania Background Clearances
NOTE: Please keep all original records for yourself. Photocopies are sufficient for the church office.
1) OBTAIN A CRIMINAL RECORD CHECK FROM THE PENNSYLVANIA STATE POLICE.
a) Go here. Click on “New Volunteer Record Check”
b) Read and check the Volunteer Acknowledgement Section on the next page, and choose “accept”.
c) On the personal information page, keep “VolunteerFREE” on the drop down. For organization name and phone number, enter Grace Community Church and 2157992212, respectively, as shown.
d) Complete your personal information on the remainder of the form as prompted.
e) Review the information and submit.
f) Fill in your information again on the Record Request Pg and submit.
g) The next page shows a chart with your name as a blue link. If the information is correct, click ‘Submit’ again.
h) The next page shows a chart with a blue Control Number (begins with R followed by 8 digits). Click that number. At the bottom of the next page is a blue “Certification Form” link. Click it. This is your Criminal Background clearance. You can save it and email it to the church office or print it and turn it in.
In the event that there is a criminal record, it will be treated in confidence, but must be submitted to the church.
2) OBTAIN A CHILD ABUSE CLEARANCE FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES:
Child abuse clearances can be obtained online at the following website: https://www.compass.state.pa.us/cwis/public/home
Follow the website’s instructions to create an individual account (one per person).
1. After creating your account, you will be sent an email with a temporary password. Copy this password. In the email click on the link for “Child Welfare Portal.” From there, click on “individual login,” then click “access my clearances.” Click “continue,” and fill in the username you created and the temporary password from the email. Next you will be asked to verify your account.
2. Next create your permanent password. Click “close window.” Log in again with your new permanent password that you just created. Accept the terms and conditions and click “next,” then click “continue.” Click “Create Clearance Application” and “Begin.”
- Application purpose – Choose “Volunteer Having Contact with Children”
- Category – Click “Other”
- Agency Name – Enter “Grace Community Church“
- Click “next“
3. Complete the application as prompted. (Note: when filling in names of people you’ve lived with, you will not be allowed to continue until you fill in the name of at least one parent/guardian.) When you have completed the application, you will be asked to sign the application by typing your first and last name only as it appears on the application.
4. After submission, you will receive an email with information on viewing your application. Please provide a copy of the results to the church office promptly.
A tip: Clearances at GCC do need to be renewed every five years. Since the information required for the child abuse history clearance can, in some cases, be a little burdensome to collect, some of our members find it helpful to save a copy of their application to make their next renewal easier.
3A) IF YOU HAVE BEEN A RESIDENT OF PENNSYLVANIA FOR THE LAST 10 CONTINUOUS YEARS OR MORE, A SIGNED AFFIDAVIT SWEARING YOU HAVE NOT BEEN CONVICTED OF CRIMES TOWARDS MINORS LISTED IN 23 PA.C.S.6344.
Click here for the affidavit. Please fill out, sign, and return a copy to the church office promptly.
3B) AN FBI FINGERPRINTING CLEARANCE IF YOU ARE NOT A RESIDENT OF PENNSYLVANIA, OR IF YOU HAVE LIVED IN PA FOR LESS THAN THE LAST 10 CONTINUOUS YEARS.
In Pennsylvania, applicants for digital fingerprinting are categorized by their reason for applying, and each is given a different “service code.” For a volunteer position, you will register at the Identigo link given on this webpage. Click ‘clearances.’ Under ‘Get a Clearance’ choose ‘Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Criminal History Clearance.’ Under ‘Fingerprinting Process’ click the ‘Online: Identigo’ link and choose ‘Get fingerprinted.’ The closest location to our church is the Identigo State Agency Enrollment Center at B Enterprises – Fast Tags, 729 Ridge Rd, Sellersville, PA 18960. Enter the zip code and choose your location > Schedule Appointment > Digital Fingerprinting. Enter the service code 1KG6ZJ. On the Pennsylvania DHS – Volunteer page, click ‘Schedule or Manage Appointment’ and complete the forms. You will need to bring an acceptable form of ID to your appointment, and the appointment itself takes about 10 minutes. (If you are poking around on Identigo sites and see options for a “fingerprint card”, don’t be confused by it. The above process for digital fingerprinting for a DHS volunteer is the one you want!)
You will pay on-site ($22-$30) when your fingerprints are taken. Credit/debit cards are the only form of payment accepted. You will receive a receipt which you should submit to the church office for reimbursement. Your results will arrive by email in 1-2 weeks. Please forward a copy of the fingerprint results you receive to firstname.lastname@example.org.