Memorandum, January 15, 2015
Eastern Pennsylvania Youth Soccer members and affiliates,
In 2014 the Pennsylvania state legislature passed a bill to amend the commonwealth’s Child Protective Services Law. Known as Act 153 of 2014, the law will now require statewide standards in child safety. Being proactive in 2013, our association passed measures to mandate background checks for all volunteers. The policy and procedures we have enacted internally are now a matter of law.
I have talked with representatives of the state legislature, local district attorneys and the state Attorney General’s office on this matter. There are other pieces of the law that you will need to understand such as mandatory reporting of abuse. This will require further education for us all. We still have some language to clarify before we arrive at a policy decision for our association as well as how we can educate you on the matter. The Department of Public Welfare is currently developing guidelines and explanations to clarify the law and address ambiguities.
One thing that is clear—the standard will require all employees and volunteers to be subject to the state mandated clearances. The DPW will manage the process, which will be online. The clearances will be valid for a three-year period and will be portable, meaning this one clearance is valid for any organization an individual may be employed by within Pennsylvania. It will cost $10 per person ($3.33 per year vs. our current fee of $4). In some cases based on residency, an FBI check will be required. These provisions go into effect for organizations like ours on July 1, 2015.
In accordance with our current understanding of the law, it will likely mean a shift in responsibility and action to you at the local level. Therefore, we will be working diligently over the next few weeks to learn from our legislators and public safety officers so that we can appropriately revise our policies and procedures. We will provide updates as we are able, and will present more information at the Annual General Meeting on March 8.
These are very serious issues for the protection of the children in our care, but certainly positive ones. If you have immediate questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Thank you all for supporting and serving the children of Eastern Pennsylvania Youth Soccer.
-Chris Branscome, CEO, Eastern Pennsylvania Youth Soccer