Dear FCFI Members,
The May 2015 monthly report of the CLA (Christian Law Association) had this article in it. (See below) I would recommend that all of you get CLA’s monthly newsletters, PO Box 8600 Mason, OH 45040. Phone: 888-CLA-1969 or web site: www.Christianlaw.org. However, we will keep you up to date.
The day of us as churches not running a background check on volunteers and staff is over. I would recommend everyone, including yourself, have a background check in your file. Before long, every state will have a background check law. FCFI has already begun and will continue to run background checks on all ministers.
Important update for Pennsylvania ministries, and legal advice for ministries in all 50 states
Recently, the state of Pennsylvania enacted twenty-three new laws regarding child abuse, reporting laws, and background checks. One of the most significant changes these laws implement is that, as of July 1, 2015, every organization, including churches, will have the responsibility of running “clearances,” essentially a variety of state background checks, on every prospective volunteer who will have direct contact with children.
An organization’s failure to comply with these laws can be subject to penalties up to one year in prison or $2,000.00. Every Pennsylvania ministry should take the time to review these new laws and ensure that their ministry is in compliance with all reporting and background check laws. The state of Pennsylvania has established a website at keepkidssafe.pa.gov that provides significant information regarding these new laws.
Although requiring volunteer background checks by law is not common in other states, it has long been the position of our attorneys that every ministry should require complete background checks for any volunteer who has contact with children. We have unfortunately seen many lawsuits against ministries when something terrible happens involving a church volunteer and the church had failed to ever run a background check on the individual. In fact, our attorneys would recommend that every ministry run background checks every two or three years for all volunteers. Keeping these records will greatly assist in limiting a ministry’s liability should a volunteer ever cause a significant problem.
If your ministry has any questions regarding compliance with Pennsylvania’s new laws or regarding background checks in general, Christian Law Association members can call the CLA office at 888-CLA-1969 and speak with one of our attorneys.
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