HARRISBURG, Pa., April 29, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Department of Human Services (DHS) today announced the average number of days that it takes to process child abuse clearances decreased from 26 days in January to 4 days, well below the 14 days required by statute. These clearances were expanded under the auspices of the new amendments to the Child Protective Services Law (CPSL) that went into effect on December 31, 2014.
"Pennsylvania children will be safer than ever before," said Acting Secretary Ted Dallas. "The Department reached the 14 days to process envisioned in the law on April 3, 2015. As of today, we are processing clearances in an average of four days."
Laws passed in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal increased the number of individuals that must obtain background clearances before working or volunteering with children. When new clearance requirements went into effect on December 31, 2014, DHS was challenged to respond to a surge in the number of applications it received; an increase of approximately 115 percent when comparing January and February 2014 with the same time period of this year.
"While this marks an important milestone in implementing these new laws, we know there is still a lot of work to be done. This is especially true as we approach an expected increase in applications in July 2015 when the volunteer component of the law goes into effect," said Dallas.
To decrease the average number of days that it takes to process clearances, DHS took four steps to improve performance at ChildLine, the bureau that processes background checks:
- Increased ChildLine staff. DHS added 10 permanent positions and 23 temporary positions at ChildLine to assist with the backlog of clearances and future volume;
- Enhanced IT systems. DHS made changes to the IT systems that are used at ChildLine to make them more user-friendly and enhance efficiency. These changes are being rolled out in two phases, the first of which occurred in March and the next one scheduled for July;
- Improved staff efficiency. The OCYF Chief of Staff was temporarily reassigned to ChildLine to review its policy and procedures and to ensure that all employees were doing their fair share of the work and meeting productivity targets; and
- Encouraged online reporting and applications. DHS encouraged individuals who need clearances to complete applications electronically. Online applications can be processed much more quickly than via mail, and 64 percent of the time receive an auto-clear result, with a return email to the cleared applicant.
For more information please visit www.KeepKidsSafe.pa.gov. Child abuse can be reported electronically or by calling 1-800-932-0313.
MEDIA CONTACT: Kait Gillis, DHS, 717-425-7606
SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Human Services