Volunteer Background Check (Clearances)– Instructions and Process

(Effective 7/25/15)

Governor Wolf recently signed Act 153 of 2015 into law, which created changes for Volunteer background checks (clearances).

Download the Volunteer Packet

What has changed?  

  • Renewal of clearances is now required every 5 years.
  • There is no cost for PA Criminal and PA Child Abuse clearances.

Please navigate to the following page for more information and links to the backgroind check websites.

PA Dept of Human Services

All school volunteers who, through the course of their volunteer position, are responsible for the welfare of a child or have direct contact with children, are required to obtain and renew the following background checks:

  • Pennsylvania Criminal Background Check
  • Pennsylvania Child Abuse Clearance
  • FBI Criminal Background Check if the volunteer has not lived inside the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania within the past ten (10) years.
  • A Volunteer is exempt from the FBI Criminal Background Check if the volunteer meets the following requirements:
  1. The prospective volunteer has been a Pennsylvania resident for the past ten (10) years; and
  1. The prospective volunteer affirms, in writing, that he/she is not disqualified from service under the Pennsylvania Child Protective Services Law and/or has not been convicted of an offense similar in nature to the crimes listed under the Pennsylvania Child Protective Services Law. This is done by completing the Bethlehem Area School District Volunteer Statement attached.


When do volunteers need to have their clearances?

New volunteers must have their clearances before starting any volunteer activity.


How often must I renew my clearances?

It is the responsibility of the volunteer to get their clearances renewed every 5 years. Volunteers are responsible for keeping track of when it is time to reapply for renewal of their clearances.


What is the cost of clearances?

  • PA State Police Clearance: FREE*
  • PA Child Abuse Clearance: FREE*
  • FBI Fingerprint Clearance: $28.75

* The website for these clearances should indicate “free” when you apply as a volunteer. The “Free” clearances are for volunteer positions only and cannot be used for employment purposes.


Who pays for the cost of the FBI Fingerprint clearance?

 Each volunteer is responsible for paying the cost if the FBI clearance is needed.


Helpful Tips:

  • When completing the clearance applications, the process may indicate a social security number is optional. If you choose not to provide a social security number, please be aware it will take longer for your results to be completed.
  • For the PA Child Abuse Clearance, you will be asked for a Keystone ID#. The Keystone ID is a number you must create. It must be 6-10 characters in length and must include one (1) capital and one (1) number.

How Does A Volunteer Receive the Clearance Results?

PA State Police Clearance: After completing the on-line application, the results are ready almost immediately, and you will be able to print them out. If they are not ready, visit the site daily to check for your results in order to print them out.

(Note: You will not receive the results through regular mail unless you have applied through a paper process.)


PA Child Abuse Clearance: After completing the on-line application, you will receive an email indicating your results are ready. Log-in using the same password you created when applying. You will be able to access and printout the results.

(Note: You will only receive the results through regular mail if you request the results to be mailed to you or you apply through a paper process.)


FBI Fingerprint Clearance, if needed: After you are fingerprinted at the UPS store, you will be asked if you want to pay $1.00 for a receipt confirming you were fingerprinted. You want to get the receipt because it has a number on it that allows Human Resources to access and print out the results. Only Human Resources can access the official results of the FBI Fingerprint Clearance. Each school will work with BASD’s Human Resources Department to obtain the results. You can provide the receipt directly to the BASD Human Resources Department or the school where you are volunteering.

(Note: You will receive an “Unofficial” copy of the results in the mail. The school where you are volunteering cannot accept this copy. It is for your records only.)


Is a volunteer required to apply for clearances on-line?

No, volunteers are not required to apply on-line.

A paper submission can be made for the Pennsylvania State Criminal Background Check and Pennsylvania Child Abuse History Clearance. Please call Human Resources at 610-861-0500, x60239 for the forms. You can also go to the BASD website, go to “Human Resources” and click on “How to Apply” to obtain the forms.

For the FBI Clearance, you may call Cogent at 1-888-439-2486 from 8 a.m. – 6 p.m. Monday through Friday to register. When prompted, select Pennsylvania Department of Education.


Where do I submit my clearance results?

When you have all of the required clearances, they are to be given to the principal or administrator at the location you will be volunteering along with the completed Volunteer Application. A copy will be made of the clearances, and you will receive your originals back. Keep them in a safe place for future use, if needed.


What should I do if I have children in different schools, and I want to volunteer at each school?

You are to complete the Volunteer Application form and the BASD Volunteer Statement for each school. You must also provide that school with your clearances.


If a volunteer has questions about the process or how to submit clearance results, who should the volunteer contact?

Call MaryBeth Duchesneau in Human Resources at 610-861-0500, ext. 60239


All volunteers who will have student contact for 10 or more hours per week, SEE PAGE 3, Number 6 of the VOLUNTEER PACKET for more information, must have a TB test report on file in the Nitschmann office. 

You must contact the school where you submitted your TB report and have them fax it to the Nitschamnn office care of Jan Rhiel.  If you submitted it to Nitschmann they should have it on file.


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