Pennsylvania Statutes Title 23 Pa.C.S.A. Domestic Relations § 6344. Employees having contact with children;  adoptive and foster parents

(a) Applicability.--Beginning December 31, 2014, this section applies to the following individuals:

(1) An employee of child-care services.

(2) A foster parent.

(3) A prospective adoptive parent.

(4) A self-employed provider of child-care services in a family child-care home.

(5) (i) Except as provided under subparagraph (ii), an individual 14 years of age or older who is applying for or holding a paid position as an employee with a program, activity or service, as a person responsible for the child's welfare or having direct contact with children.

(ii) If the program, activity or service is an internship, externship, work study, co-op or similar program, an adult applying for or holding a paid position with an employer that participates in the internship, externship, work study, co-op or similar program with a school and whom the employer and the school identify as the child's supervisor and the person responsible for the child's welfare while the child participates in the program with the employer.  The adult identified under this subparagraph as the person responsible for the child's welfare is required to be in the immediate vicinity at regular intervals with the child during the program.

(6) Any individual seeking to provide child-care services under contract with a child-care facility or program.

(7) An individual 18 years of age or older who resides in the home of a foster parent for at least 30 days in a calendar year or who resides in the home of a prospective adoptive parent for at least 30 days in a calendar year.

(8) An individual 18 years of age or older who resides for at least 30 days in a calendar year in the following homes which are subject to supervision or licensure by the department under Articles IX and X of the act of June 13, 1967 (P.L. 31, No. 21),  1 known as the Public Welfare Code:

(i) A family living home.

(ii) A community home for individuals with an intellectual disability.

(iii) A host home for children.

This paragraph does not include an individual with an intellectual disability or chronic psychiatric disability receiving services in a home.

(a.1) School employees.--This section shall apply to school employees as follows:

(1) School employees governed by the provisions of the act of March 10, 1949 (P.L. 30, No. 14), known as the Public School Code of 1949, shall be subject to the provisions of section 111 of the Public School Code of 1949,  2 except that this section shall apply with regard to the certification required under subsection (b)(2).

(2)(i) School employees not governed by the provisions of the Public School Code of 1949 shall be governed by this section.

(ii) This paragraph shall not apply to an employee of an institution of higher education whose direct contact with children, in the course of employment, is limited to either:

(A) prospective students visiting a campus operated by the institution of higher education;  or

(B) matriculated students who are enrolled with the institution.

(iii) The exemption under subparagraph (ii)(B) shall not apply to students who are enrolled in a secondary school.

(a.2) Minors.--An individual between 14 and 17 years of age who applies for or holds a paid position as an employee who is a person responsible for the child's welfare or a person with direct contact with children through a program, activity or service prior to the commencement of employment or under section 6344.4 (relating to recertification) shall be required to submit only the information under subsection (b)(1) and (2) to an employer, administrator, supervisor or other person responsible for employment decisions, if the following apply:

(1) The individual has been a resident of this Commonwealth during the entirety of the previous 10-year period or, if not a resident of this Commonwealth during the entirety of the previous 10-year period, has received certification under subsection (b)(3) at any time since establishing residency in this Commonwealth and provides a copy of the certification to the employer.

(2) The individual and the individual's parent or legal guardian swear or affirm in writing that the individual is not disqualified from service under subsection (c) or has not been convicted of an offense similar in nature to those crimes listed in subsection (c) under the laws or former laws of the United States or one of its territories or possessions, another state, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico or a foreign nation, or under a former law of this Commonwealth.

(a.3) Exchange visitor.--An individual in possession of a nonimmigrant visa issued pursuant to 8 U.S.C. § 1101(a)(15)(J) (relating to definitions) to an exchange visitor, commonly referred to as a “J-1” Visa, shall not be required to submit information under subsection (b) if all of the following apply:

(1) The individual is applying for or holds a paid position with a program, activity or service for a period not to exceed a total of 90 days in a calendar year.

(2) The individual has not been employed previously in this Commonwealth or another state, the District of Columbia or the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.

(3) The individual swears or affirms in writing that the individual is not disqualified from service under subsection (c) or has not been convicted of an offense similar in nature to the crimes listed under subsection (c) under the laws or former laws of the United States or one of its territories or possessions, another state, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico or a foreign nation, or under a former law of this Commonwealth.

(b) Information to be submitted.--An individual identified in subsection (a)(7) or (8) at the time the individual meets the description set forth in subsection (a)(7) or (8) and an individual identified in subsection (a)(1), (2), (3), (4), (5) or (6), (a.1) or (a.2) prior to the commencement of employment or service or in accordance with section 6344.4 shall be required to submit the following information to an employer, administrator, supervisor or other person responsible for employment decisions or involved in the selection of volunteers:

(1) Pursuant to 18 Pa.C.S. Ch. 91 (relating to criminal history record information), a report of criminal history record information from the Pennsylvania State Police or a statement from the Pennsylvania State Police that the State Police central repository contains no such information relating to that person.  The criminal history record information shall be limited to that which is disseminated pursuant to 18 Pa.C.S. § 9121(b)(2) (relating to general regulations).

(2) A certification from the department as to whether the applicant is named in the Statewide database as the alleged perpetrator in a pending child abuse investigation or as the perpetrator of a founded report or an indicated report.

(3) A report of Federal criminal history record information.  The applicant shall submit a full set of fingerprints to the Pennsylvania State Police for the purpose of a record check, and the Pennsylvania State Police or its authorized agent shall submit the fingerprints to the Federal Bureau of Investigation for the purpose of verifying the identity of the applicant and obtaining a current record of any criminal arrests and convictions.

(b.1) Required documentation to be maintained and produced.--The employer, administrator, supervisor or other person responsible for employment decisions or acceptance of the individual to serve in any capacity identified in subsection (a)(1), (2), (3), (4), (5) or (6), (a.1) or (a.2) shall maintain a copy of the required information and require the individual to submit the required documents prior to employment or acceptance to serve in any such capacity or as required in section 6344.4, except as allowed under subsection (m).

(b.2) Investigation.--An employer, administrator, supervisor or other person responsible for employment decisions shall require an applicant to submit the required documentation set forth in this chapter or as required in section 6344.4.  An employer, administrator, supervisor or other person responsible for employment decisions that intentionally fails to require an applicant to submit the required documentation before the applicant's hiring or upon recertification commits a misdemeanor of the third degree.

(b.3) Volunteer certification prohibition.--An employer, administrator, supervisor or other person responsible for employment decisions is prohibited from accepting a certification that was obtained for volunteering purposes under section 6344.2 (relating to volunteers having contact with children).

(c) Grounds for denying employment or participation in program, activity or service.--

(1) In no case shall an administrator hire or approve an applicant where the department has verified that the applicant is named in the Statewide database as the perpetrator of a founded report committed within the five-year period immediately preceding verification pursuant to this section.

(2) In no case shall an administrator hire an applicant if the applicant' s criminal history record information indicates the applicant has been convicted of one or more of the following offenses under Title 18 (relating to crimes and offenses) or an equivalent crime under Federal law or the law of another state:

Chapter 25 (relating to criminal homicide).

Section 2702 (relating to aggravated assault).

Section 2709.1 (relating to stalking).

Section 2901 (relating to kidnapping).

Section 2902 (relating to unlawful restraint).

Section 3121 (relating to rape).

Section 3122.1 (relating to statutory sexual assault).

Section 3123 (relating to involuntary deviate sexual intercourse).

Section 3124.1 (relating to sexual assault).

Section 3125 (relating to aggravated indecent assault).

Section 3126 (relating to indecent assault).

Section 3127 (relating to indecent exposure).

Section 4302 (relating to incest).

Section 4303 (relating to concealing death of child).

Section 4304 (relating to endangering welfare of children).

Section 4305 (relating to dealing in infant children).

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

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

Section 6301 (relating to corruption of minors).

Section 6312 (relating to sexual abuse of children).

The attempt, solicitation or conspiracy to commit any of the offenses set forth in this paragraph.

(3) In no case shall an employer, administrator, supervisor or other person responsible for employment decisions hire or approve an applicant if the applicant's criminal history record information indicates the applicant has been convicted of a felony offense under the act of April 14, 1972 (P.L. 233, No. 64),  3 known as The Controlled Substance, Drug, Device and Cosmetic Act, committed within the five-year period immediately preceding verification under this section.

(c.1) Dismissal.--If the information obtained pursuant to subsection (b) reveals that the applicant is disqualified from employment or approval pursuant to subsection (c), the applicant shall be immediately dismissed from employment or approval.

(d) Prospective adoptive or foster parents.--With regard to prospective adoptive or prospective foster parents, the following shall apply:

(1) In the course of causing an investigation to be made pursuant to section 2535(a) (relating to investigation), an agency or person designated by the court to conduct the investigation shall require prospective adoptive parents and any individual over the age of 18 years residing in the home to submit the information set forth in subsection (b) for review in accordance with this section.  If a prospective adoptive parent, or any individual over 18 years of age residing in the home, has resided outside this Commonwealth at any time within the previous five-year period, the agency or person designated by the court shall require that person to submit a certification obtained within the previous one-year period from the Statewide central registry, or its equivalent in each state in which the person has resided within the previous five-year period, as to whether the person is named as a perpetrator of child abuse.  If the certification shows that the person is named as a perpetrator of child abuse within the previous five-year period, the agency or person designated by the court shall forward the certification to the department for review.  The agency or person designated by the court shall not approve the prospective adoptive parent if the department determines that the person is named as the equivalent of a perpetrator of a founded report of child abuse within the previous five-year period.

(2) In the course of approving a prospective foster parent, a foster family care agency shall require prospective foster parents and any individual over the age of 18 years residing in the home to submit the information set forth in subsection (b) for review by the foster family care agency in accordance with this section.  If a prospective foster parent, or any individual over 18 years of age residing in the home, has resided outside this Commonwealth at any time within the previous five-year period, the foster family care agency shall require that person to submit a certification obtained within the previous one-year period from the Statewide central registry, or its equivalent in each state in which the person has resided within the previous five-year period, as to whether the person is named as a perpetrator of child abuse.  If the certification shows that the person is named as a perpetrator of child abuse within the previous five-year period, the foster family care agency shall forward the certification to the department for review.  The foster family care agency shall not approve the prospective foster parent if the department determines that the person is named as the equivalent of a perpetrator of a founded report of child abuse within the previous five-year period.  In addition, the foster family care agency shall consider the following when assessing the ability of applicants for approval as foster parents:

(i) The ability to provide care, nurturing and supervision to children.

(ii) Mental and emotional well-being.  If there is a question regarding the mental or emotional stability of a family member which might have a negative effect on a foster child, the foster family care agency shall require a psychological evaluation of that person before approving the foster family home.

(iii) Supportive community ties with family, friends and neighbors.

(iv) Existing family relationships, attitudes and expectations regarding the applicant's own children and parent/child relationships, especially as they might affect a foster child.

(v) Ability of the applicant to accept a foster child's relationship with his own parents.

(vi) The applicant's ability to care for children with special needs.

(vii) Number and characteristics of foster children best suited to the foster family.

(viii) Ability of the applicant to work in partnership with a foster family care agency.  This subparagraph shall not be construed to preclude an applicant from advocating on the part of a child.

(3), (4) Deleted by 2014, Oct. 22, P.L. 2529, No. 153, § 8 , effective Dec. 31, 2014.

(4.1) If a foster parent, prospective adoptive parent or individual over 18 years of age residing in the home is arrested for or convicted of an offense that would constitute grounds for denying approval under this chapter or is named as a perpetrator in a founded or indicated report, the foster parent or prospective adoptive parent shall provide the foster family care agency or the agency listed to provide adoption services with written notice not later than 72 hours after the arrest, conviction or notification that the individual was named as a perpetrator in the Statewide database.

(5) Foster parents and prospective adoptive parents shall be required to report any other change in the family household composition within 30 days of the change for review by the foster family care agency or the agency listed to provide adoption services.  If any individual over 18 years of age, who has resided outside this Commonwealth at any time within the previous five-year period, begins residing in the home of an approved foster family or a prospective adoptive family, that individual shall, within 30 days of beginning residence, submit to the foster family care agency or the agency listed to provide adoption services a certification obtained from the Statewide database, or its equivalent in each state in which the person has resided within the previous five-year period, as to whether the person is named as a perpetrator.  If the certification shows that the person is named as a perpetrator within the previous five-year period, the foster family care agency or the agency listed to provide adoption services shall forward the certification to the department for review.  If the department determines that the person is named as the equivalent of a perpetrator of a founded report within the previous five-year period and the person does not cease residing in the home immediately, the county agency shall immediately seek court authorization to remove the foster child or children from the home.  In emergency situations when a judge cannot be reached, the county agency shall proceed in accordance with the Pennsylvania Rules of Juvenile Court Procedure.

(6) In cases where foster parents knowingly fail to submit the material information required in paragraphs (4.1) and (5) and section 6344.4 such that it would disqualify them as foster parents, the county agency shall immediately seek court authorization to remove the foster child or children from the home.  In emergency situations when a judge cannot be reached, the county agency shall proceed in accordance with the Pennsylvania Rules of Juvenile Court Procedure.

(7) An approved foster parent shall not be considered an employee for any purpose, including, but not limited to, liability, unemployment compensation, workers' compensation or other employee benefits provided by the county agency.

(8) The department shall require information based upon certain criteria for foster and adoptive parent applications.  The criteria shall include, but not be limited to, information provided by the applicant or other sources in the following areas:

(i) Previous addresses within the last 10 years.

(ii) Criminal history background certification generated by the process outlined in this section.

(iii) Child abuse certification generated by the process outlined in this section.

(iv) Composition of the resident family unit.

(v) Protection from abuse orders filed by or against either parent, provided that such orders are accessible to the county or private agency.

(vi) Details of any proceedings brought in family court, provided that such records in such proceedings are accessible to the county or private agency.

(vii) Drug-related or alcohol-related arrests, if criminal charges or judicial proceedings are pending, and any convictions or hospitalizations within the last five years.  If the applicant provides information regarding convictions or hospitalizations in that five-year period, then information on the prior five years shall be requested related to any additional convictions or hospitalizations.

(viii) Evidence of financial stability, including income verification, employment history, current liens and bankruptcy findings within the last 10 years.

(ix) Number of and ages of foster children and other dependents currently placed in the home.

(x) Detailed information regarding children with special needs currently living in the home.

(xi) Previous history as a foster parent, including number and types of children served.

(xii) Related education, training or personal experience working with foster children or the child welfare system.

(d.1) Establishment of a resource family registry.--

(1) The department shall establish a registry of resource family applicants.

(2) The foster family care agency or adoption agency shall register all resource family applicants on the resource family registry in accordance with subsection (d.2).

(3) The foster family care agency or adoption agency shall register all resource families that are approved on the effective date of this subsection within six months of the effective date of this subsection.

(4) Any resource family that is voluntarily registered on the foster parent registry shall be maintained on the resource family registry mandated under this section.

(d.2) Information in the resource family registry.--

(1) The resource family registry shall include, but not be limited to, the following:

(i) The name, Social Security number, date of birth, sex, marital status, race and ethnicity of the applicants.

(ii) The date or dates of the resource family application.

(iii) The current and previous home addresses of the applicants.

(iv) The county of residence of the applicants.

(v) The name, date of birth, Social Security number and relationship of all household members.

(vi) The name, address and telephone number of all current and previous foster family care agency or adoption agency affiliations.

(vii) The foster family care agency or adoption agency disposition related to the approval or disapproval of the applicants and the date and basis for the disposition.

(viii) The type of care the resource family will provide.

(ix) The number of children that may be placed in the resource family home.

(x) The age, race, gender and level of special needs of children that may be placed in the resource family home.

(xi) The ability of the resource family to provide care for sibling groups.

(xii) The date and reason for any closure of the resource family home.

(xiii) The appeal activity initiated by a resource family applicant or an approved resource family and the basis for the appeal.  This subparagraph shall not be construed to limit legitimate appeals.

(xiv) The status and disposition of all appeal-related activities.  This subparagraph shall not be construed to limit legitimate appeals.

(2) The information maintained in the resource family registry may be released to the following individuals when the department has positively identified the individual requesting the information and the department, except in the case of subparagraphs (iii) and (iv), has inquired into whether and if it is satisfied that the individual has a legitimate need within the scope of the individual's official duties to obtain the information:

(i) An authorized official of a county or private agency, a Federal agency or an agency of another state who performs resource family approvals or the department in the course of the official's duties.

(ii) A guardian ad litem or court-designated advocate for a child.  The information is limited to the information related to the resource family with whom the child resides.

(iii) A court of competent jurisdiction, including a district justice, a judge of the Municipal Court of Philadelphia or a judge of the Pittsburgh Magistrates Court, pursuant to court order or subpoena in a criminal matter involving a charge of child abuse under Chapter 63 (relating to child protective services).

(iv) A court of competent jurisdiction in connection with any matter involving custody of a child.  The department shall provide to the court any files that the court considers relevant.

(v) The Attorney General.

(vi) Federal auditors, if required for Federal financial participation in funding of agencies, except that Federal auditors may not remove identifiable information or copies thereof from the department or county or private agencies.

(vii) Law enforcement agents of any jurisdiction, as long as the information is relevant in the course of investigating crimes involving the resource family.

(viii) Appropriate officials of a private agency or another county or state regarding a resource family that has applied to become a resource family for that agency, county or state.

(3) At any time and upon written request, a resource family may receive a copy of all information pertaining to that resource family contained in the resource family registry.

(d.3) Family living homes, community homes for individuals with an intellectual disability and host homes.--

(1) The following shall apply to an individual over 18 years of age residing in a family living home, a community home for individuals with an intellectual disability or a host home for children, which are subject to supervision or licensure by the department under Articles IX and X of the Public Welfare Code:

(i) If an individual is arrested for or convicted of an offense that would constitute grounds for denying approval under this chapter, or is named as a perpetrator in a founded or indicated report, the individual shall provide the agency with written notice not later than 72 hours after the arrest, conviction or notification that the individual was named as a perpetrator in the Statewide database.

(ii) The adult family member who is providing services to a child in the home shall be required to report any other change in the household composition within 30 days of the change for review by the agency.  If any individual over 18 years of age, who has resided outside this Commonwealth at any time within the previous five-year period, begins residing in the home, that individual shall, within 30 days of beginning residence, submit to the agency a certification obtained from the Statewide database, or its equivalent in each state in which the individual has resided within the previous five-year period, as to whether the person is named as a perpetrator.  If the certification shows that the person is named as a perpetrator within the previous five-year period, the agency shall forward the certification to the department for review.

(2) This subsection shall not apply to an individual with an intellectual disability or chronic psychiatric disability receiving services in a home.

(3) As used in this subsection, the term “agency” means a family living home agency, community home agency for individuals with an intellectual disability or a host home agency.

(e) Self-employed family child-care providers.--Self-employed family child-care providers who apply for a license with the department shall submit with their licensure application the information set forth under subsection (b) for review in accordance with this section.

(f) Submissions by operators of child-care services.--The department shall require persons seeking to operate child-care services to submit the information set forth in subsection (b) for review in accordance with this section.

(g) Regulations.--The department shall promulgate the regulations necessary to carry out this section.  These regulations shall:

(1) Set forth criteria for unsuitability for employment in a child-care service in relation to criminal history record information which may include criminal history record information in addition to that set forth above.  The criteria shall be reasonably related to the prevention of child abuse.

(2) Set forth sanctions for administrators who willfully hire applicants in violation of this section or in violation of the regulations promulgated under this section.

(h) Repealed by 2017, Oct. 30, P.L. 379, No. 40, § 13(8) , imd. effective.

(h.1) Form of payment.--Payment of the fee authorized under subsection (h) may be made by an individual or organization by check, money order, credit card or debit card.

(i) Time limit for certification.--The department shall comply with certification requests no later than 14 days from the receipt of the request.

(j) Voluntary certification of child caretakers.--The department shall develop a procedure for the voluntary certification of child caretakers to allow persons to apply to the department for a certificate indicating the person has met the requirements of subsection (b). The department shall also provide for the biennial recertification of child caretakers.

(k), (l) Deleted by 2014, Oct. 22, P.L. 2529, No. 153, § 8 , effective Dec. 31, 2014.

(m) Provisional employees for limited periods.--Notwithstanding subsection (b), employers, administrators, supervisors or other persons responsible for employment decisions may employ applicants on a provisional basis for a single period not to exceed 90 days, if all of the following conditions are met:

(1) The applicant has applied for the information required under subsection (b) and the applicant provides a copy of the appropriate completed request forms to the employer, administrator, supervisor or other person responsible for employment decisions.

(2) The employer, administrator, supervisor or other person responsible for employment decisions has no knowledge of information pertaining to the applicant which would disqualify him from employment pursuant to subsection (c).

(3) The applicant swears or affirms in writing that he is not disqualified from employment pursuant to subsection (c) or has not been convicted of an offense similar in nature to those crimes listed in subsection (c) under the laws or former laws of the United States or one of its territories or possessions, another state, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico or a foreign nation, or under a former law of this Commonwealth.

(4) If the information obtained pursuant to subsection (b) reveals that the applicant is disqualified from employment pursuant to subsection (c), the applicant shall be immediately dismissed by the employer, administrator, supervisor or other person responsible for employment decisions.

(5) The employer, administrator, supervisor or other person responsible for employment decisions requires that the applicant not be permitted to work alone with children and that the applicant work in the immediate vicinity of a permanent employee.

(n) Confidentiality.--The information provided and compiled under this section, including, but not limited to, the names, addresses and telephone numbers of applicants and foster and adoptive parents, shall be confidential and shall not be subject to the act of February 14, 2008 (P.L. 6, No. 3),   4 known as the Right-to-Know Law.  This information shall not be released except as permitted by the department through regulation.

(o) Use of information.--A foster family care agency may not approve a prospective foster parent if the prospective foster parent or an individual 18 years of age or older who resides for at least 30 days in a calendar year with the prospective foster parent meets either of the following:

(1) Is named in the Statewide database as the perpetrator of a founded report committed within the five-year period immediately preceding verification pursuant to this section.

(2) Has been found guilty of an offense listed in subsection (c).

(p) Use of information.--A prospective adoptive parent may not be approved if the prospective adoptive parent or an individual 18 years of age or older who resides for at least 30 days in a calendar year with the prospective adoptive parent meets either of the following:

(1) Is named in the Statewide database as the perpetrator of a founded report committed within the five-year period immediately preceding verification pursuant to this section.

(2) Has been found guilty of an offense listed in subsection (c).

1 62 P.S. §§ 901 et seq., 1001 et seq.
2 24 P.S. § 1-111.
3 35 P.S. § 780-101 et seq.
4 65 P.S. § 67.101 et seq.

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