Overview of Requirements of Pennsylvania and Canon Law
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania requires all active clergy (including supply), lay employees, vestry members, and volunteers to obtain clearances in order to continue their positions. The law also requires that employees and volunteers be considered mandated reporters of suspected child abuse. All current clergy and employees must be in compliance with these policies, and clearances need to be renewed every 60 months.
In addition to Pennsylvania law, all active clergy (including supply), lay employees, vestry members, volunteers, and key holders, and teenage assistants (14-17 years) in the Diocese of Bethlehem must complete Safe Church Trainings. These trainings must be renewed every 36 months. Safe Church Training is done online. If you do not have an account for Safe Church Training, please send an email to Paula Lapinski including your name, parish and email address.
In the Diocese of Bethlehem we are committed to establishing and maintaining safe environments for children in our congregations and church buildings. All parishes are required to adhere to the Diocesan Policies for the Protection of Children and Youth from Abuse adopted by Diocesan Council, which are available for download.
Diocesan Policies (updated June 2022).
Please see the chart below to determine what training and clearances you are required to take based on your role within your parish to be compliant with Pennsylvania and Canon law. Below that chart are the details on how to complete those trainings and clearances. You can also download a printable copy of all Safe Church requirements.
1) Complete all required Safe Church courses online.
All required modules must be completed on the Praesidium Academy website. Safe Church Training must be completed every 36 months.
If you have not yet registered, please email Paula Lapinski your name, parish, and email. She will register you with Praesidium Academy and they will send you a welcome email to create your own password. Your username will be your email, so each person will need their own email address to register.
Please consult this chart to ensure you are completing the correct modules.
Please note that items 2-4 must be redone every 60 months in accordance with Pennsylvania law.
Background checks cannot be done on minors.
2) Obtain a Pennsylvania Child Abuse History Clearance.
This can be done through the online portal or you can submit a paper form to:
ChildLine and Abuse Registry
Pennsylvania Department of Human Services
PO Box 8170
Harrisburg, PA 17105-8170
Keep in mind that as clergy and lay employees, you cannot register for clearances and background checks as a volunteer. You are considered an employee.
3) Obtain a Pennsylvania State Police Criminal Record Check.
This can be done through the online portal or you can submit a paper form for employees and clergy or paper form for volunteers to:
Pennsylvania State Police
Central Repository – 164
1800 Elmerton Avenue
Harrisburg, PA 17110-9758
Keep in mind that as clergy and lay employees, you cannot register for clearances and background checks as a volunteer.
4) Obtain an FBI Criminal Background Check.
Go to the IdentoGO website and enter the service code:
For clergy and lay employees: 1KG756
For vestry members and all other volunteers: 1KG6ZJ.
You will then be able to schedule an appointment at a fingerprinting site near you, and learn what you’ll need to bring in order to facilitate processing.
Note for vestry members, volunteers, and other unpaid positions: If you are a continuous resident of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania for the last 10 years, you may fill out this form in lieu of obtaining an FBI background check. (This does not include clergy or lay employees.)
For more information about obtaining child abuse clearances and state/FBI background checks, visit PA’s DHS website.
5) Keep documents on file in appropriate location.
Copies of your Child Abuse History Clearance, State Police Criminal Records Check, and FBI Criminal Background check must be stored in the diocesan office, as well as a secure location at your parish. You may email copies to Paula Lapinski, or send them via mail to:
The Episcopal Diocese of Bethlehem
333 Wyandotte Street
Bethlehem, PA 18015
Lay Employees, Vestry Members, and all others:
Copies of your Child Abuse History Clearance, State Police Criminal Records Check, and FBI Criminal Background check must be stored in a secure location at your parish. A print out of your transcript from Praesidium Academy should be provided to the parish as well.
If you have any questions or run into any issues, please contact Paula.