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Youth Protection

Pennsylvania FIRST Robotics strives to provide a safe environment for students at our events. As part of this effort, volunteers and adults affiliated with a Team are required to follow Pennsylvania laws and FIRST's policies.

Pennsylvania Child Protection Services Laws

In 2014 and 2015 the Pennsylvania legislature updated the Child Protection Services Law changing how Pennsylvania responds to child abuse. These changes significantly affect the reporting, investigation, assessment, prosecution and judicial handling of child abuse and neglect cases. Beginning August 25, 2015, many adult volunteers are required to obtain background checks, including the Child Abuse History Clearance, issued by the Department of Human Services, and the Criminal History Record Check, issued by the Pennsylvania State Police. 

More information may be found on the Pennsylvania Keep Kids Safe website http://keepkidssafe.pa.gov, including Volunteer Frequently Asked Questions.

The state of Pennsylvania requires that a person suspecting child abuse must make an immediate and direct report of suspected child abuse to Child Line either electronically at www.compass.state.pa.us/cwis or by calling 1-800-932-0313. 


The FIRST Youth Protection Program

The FIRST Youth Protection Program (FIRST YPP) also is an important part of the protection of our youth. It sets minimum standards recommended for all FIRST activities. You may find more information about the FIRST YPP program guide, the screening process, and frequently asked questions at http://www.usfirst.org/aboutus/youth-protection-program.

Although the overall goals of the Pennsylvania Child Protection Services Law and the FIRST Youth Protection Program may be similar, the background checks required by each are different and both sets are required.


Youth Protection Sections

The Youth Protection information below is divided into the following sections:

Coaches, Mentors and other Adults Affiliated with a Team Competing in Pennsylvania

Coaches mentors and other adults regardless of state of residency or location of the team are required to be in compliance with the:
  1. FIRST Youth Protection Program
  2. Pennsylvania Child Protective Services Law
Compliance with the Pennsylvania Child Protection Services Law, including tracking clearances of adults, is the responsibility of each individual team and their School or Organization. 


Instructions for Coaches
  1. Coaches will be asked to acknowledge compliance with the Pennsylvania Child Protective Services laws for all Coaches, Mentors, and other Adults affiliated with the team who will be attend an event on the Event Registration form.
  2. At event team check-in, the Coach must present:


Event Volunteers
Detailed instructions for Pennsylvania residents and nonresidents 

Note: For people who have lived in PA for the past 10 years, this process generally takes less than an hour and your volunteer clearance checks are good for 5 years. You may use these clearance documents anywhere you volunteer in Pennsylvania.

Beginning August 25, 2015, some Event Volunteers are required to obtain background checks:
  • Criminal History Record Check, issued by the Pennsylvania State Police
  • Child Abuse History Clearance, issued by the Department of Human Services
  • Fingerprint based FBI federal criminal history submitted through the Pennsylvania State Police or its authorized agent
The FBI fingerprint based federal criminal history is NOT required as long as:
  • The position the volunteer is applying for is an unpaid position; AND 
  • The volunteer has been a resident of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania for the entirety of the previous 10 years
Volunteers who are not required to obtain the FBI certification because they are applying for an unpaid position and have been a continuous resident of Pennsylvania for the past 10 years must swear or affirm in writing that they are not disqualified from service based upon a conviction of an offense under §6344.

Once you complete the volunteer application through VIMS, volunteers will receive notification and further instructions by Pennsylvania FIRST Robotics if you will be required to obtain background checks.

You must notify Pennsylvania FIRST Robotics (ftc@pennfirst.org) if you are convicted of an offense that would constitute grounds for denying participation in the program, activity or service, or are named as a perpetrator in a founded or indicated report. You must provide to Pennsylvania FIRST Robotics a written notice no later than 72 hours after the arrest, conviction or notification, that you have been listed as a perpetrator in the statewide database.

If you have been listed as a perpetrator or are otherwise in violation of the new laws, you will not be able to volunteer.


Instructions for Event Volunteers who are Pennsylvania Residents

Obtain Your Clearances
Information on the Pennsylvania requirements can be found at http://www.dhs.state.pa.us/findaform/childabusehistoryclearanceforms/index.htm.

When asked for a Volunteer Organization on these forms, you may enter Pennsylvania FIRST Robotics.

Complete items 1 and 2 and then either item 3 or 4:
Note: For people who have lived in PA for the past 10 years, this generally takes less than an hour and your volunteer clearance checks are good for 5 years. You may use these clearance documents anywhere you volunteer in Pennsylvania.
  1. Complete the PA State Police Request for Criminal Record Check
    • Browse to https://epatch.state.pa.us/Home.jsp 
    • Select New Record Check (Volunteers only)
    • Fill out the information requested and submit form
    • Save and print your Pennsylvania State Police Criminal Record Check
  2. Complete the PA Child Abuse History Clearance
    • Online Form: https://www.compass.state.pa.us/cwis/public/home
    • Select CREATE INDIVIDUAL ACCOUNT
    • Once your Keystone ID is created, go back to URL above and select INDIVIDUAL LOGIN
    • Fill out the information requested and submit form.
    • You will be notified by email when your Pennsylvania Child Abuse History Clearance report is ready. Save and print your report.
  3. If you have been a resident of Pennsylvania for 10 years or more, complete:
  4. If you have been a resident of Pennsylvania for less than 10 years, complete:
    • The fingerprint-based FBI criminal background checks*
* The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services is utilizing Cogent Systems to process fingerprint-based FBI criminal background checks. The fingerprint based background check is a multiple step process. For more information and to begin the registration process, go to www.pa.cogentid.com//index_dpw.htm. For question about your FBI Clearance, please contact the FBI/Adam Walsh Unit at 717-783-6211 or 1-877-371-5422. 

Present Your Clearance Documents
At Volunteer Check-in present the following documents. You are required to present these documents once per FTC season. Representatives of Pennsylvania FIRST Robotics will photocopy compliance documents for our records.
  • Your three Pennsylvania Child Protection compliance documents (results from 1 and 2 and either 3 or 4 above)


Instructions for Event Volunteers who reside outside of Pennsylvania

Obtain Your Clearances
Information on the Pennsylvania requirements can be found at http://www.dhs.state.pa.us/findaform/childabusehistoryclearanceforms/index.htm

If you will be volunteering for 30 days or less in a calendar year:
  1. Complete all screenings in accordance with the Child Protection laws of your state
  2. Complete the Disclosure Statement Application for Nonresident Volunteers (Swear and Affirm statement)

If you will be volunteering for 31 days or more in a calendar year, complete:
    1. Complete the PA State Police Request for Criminal Record Check
      • Browse to https://epatch.state.pa.us/Home.jsp 
      • Select New Record Check (Volunteers only)
      • Fill out the information requested and submit form
      • Save and print your Pennsylvania State Police Criminal Record Check
    2. Complete the PA Child Abuse History Clearance
      • Online Form: https://www.compass.state.pa.us/cwis/public/home
      • Select CREATE INDIVIDUAL ACCOUNT
      • Once your Keystone ID is created, go back to URL above and select INDIVIDUAL LOGIN
      • Fill out the information requested and submit form.
      • You will be notified by email when your Pennsylvania Child Abuse History Clearance report is ready. Save and print your report.
    3. The fingerprint-based FBI criminal background checks*
    * The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services is utilizing Cogent Systems to process fingerprint-based FBI criminal background checks. The fingerprint based background check is a multiple step process. For more information and to begin the registration process, go to www.pa.cogentid.com//index_dpw.htm. For question about your FBI Clearance, please contact the FBI/Adam Walsh Unit at 717-783-6211 or 1-877-371-5422. 

    Present Your Clearance Documents
    At Volunteer Check-in present the following documents. You are required to present these documents once per FTC season. Representatives of Pennsylvania FIRST Robotics will photocopy compliance documents for our records. 
    1. Your Pennsylvania Child Protection compliance documents
      • volunteering 30 days or less
      • volunteering 31 days or more:
        • Pennsylvania State Police Criminal Record Check
        • Pennsylvania Child Abuse History Clearance Report
        • Results from your  fingerprint-based FBI criminal background check