Criminal Background Checks: Act 153 of PA

Clearance Requirements for VU Student  Volunteers

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, in an effort to protect minors, enacted ACT 153 of the Pennsylvania Child Protective Services Law (CPSL) in 2014.  In compliance with this Act, Villanova University requires that employees and volunteers who have direct contact with minors, as defined by law, undergo three criminal background checks.  The information provided on this page is applicable to student volunteers only. 

A limited number of undergraduate student workers may have direct contact with minors as part of their work responsibilities. If this is the case, the undergraduate student worker must complete the clearance process as a Villanova employee and not as a student volunteer. The law that mandates these clearances does not accept clearances obtained for volunteer purposes to be used in the employment context. 

Questions regarding employment-related checks should be directed to Human Resources.  Please visit the Human Resources website for additional information or contact them via e-mail at

Villanova University cherishes the service provided by our community members. Volunteering is a part of the Villanova tradition and culture.  We want to continue to serve the community and offer opportunities for students to serve.  We do not want students to face hardship or choose not to volunteer because of the cost of the background checks. 

Therefore, if you are volunteering in a program or activity involving the participation of minors that is registered through the University Compliance Office Online Registration System or that is sponsored or officially recognized by Villanova University, the University will cover the cost of obtaining the FBI clearance once during your years as an undergraduate or graduate student as described in the Criminal Background Check Process section below.  This new process is possible due to the VU Department of Public Safety becoming a site authorized to provide fingerprint services to its faculty, staff and students as of July 2018.  We ask that you follow the process outlined below if you would like for the University to cover the cost of your FBI clearance.

Clearance Requirements for VU Student Volunteers

Any Villanova University volunteer who will have direct contact with minors while participating in a Villanova-sponsored or facilitated program or activity designed primarily to serve minors will need to complete three (3) criminal background checks, except as noted below. Direct volunteer contact is defined as both the care, supervision, guidance, or control of minors and the routine interaction with minors.

If you have been a continuous resident of Pennsylvania for ten (10) years or more, you do not have to complete the FBI fingerprinting clearance, but instead can submit a signed affidavit affirming that you are not disqualified from service in the program or under Pennsylvania Law.  Please note that off-site programs or activities involving minors may have additional requirements that must be met.

The following two sections provide more detailed information regarding the three (3) criminal background checks and instructions on how to obtain them.

Criminal Background Check Clearances Required Under Act 153 of 2014

Pennsylvania State Police Access to Criminal History (PATCH)

  • Cost: Free*
  • Sent: Electronically or mailed if record indicated
  • Timeframe: Immediate to 6 weeks depending on response

Pennsylvania Department of Human Services Child Abuse History Clearance  

  • Cost: Free*
  • Sent: Electronically and Mailed (if selected)
  • Timeframe: Up to 14 days from receipt of application

FBI Fingerprinting

  • Cost: $22.60**
  • Sent: Mailed
  • Timeframe: (unknown at this time)

*A volunteer may only receive the PATCH and Child Abuse background checks free of charge once every 57 months and only upon online certification of volunteer (unpaid) status.

**A volunteer may obtain the FBI clearance at any IdentoGO site of their choosing and will be responsible for the costs associated with the clearance. Villanova University has established a process through its Department of Public Safety (an IdentoGO site since July 2018) wherein it will pre-pay for the clearance on behalf of the student volunteer.  The instructions on how to obtain the FBI clearance through this process are below. 

If you have lived outside the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in the last 10 years, you are required to complete all three criminal background checks.  If you have been a continuous resident of Pennsylvania for the last 10 years, in lieu of the FBI Fingerprinting, you can complete a PA Resident-Volunteer Affirmation form which swears and affirms that you have: (1) been a PA resident for the last 10 years, (2) filed requests for PATCH and Child Abuse History Clearances, (3) have not been named as a perpetrator of a founded report of child abuse as defined by PA law and (4) have not been convicted of any crime that precludes you from volunteering.  

Background check certifications are valid for 60 months from the date issued.   The three criminal background checks obtained as a volunteer can be used at Villanova and other volunteer organizations provided they are valid.  Similarly, background checks obtained for employment purposes can be used for volunteer positions.

The reverse however, is not true.  The law does not allow criminal background checks obtained as a volunteer to be used for employment purposes.

In addition to the background check clearances, please note that volunteers must also meet education and training requirements in order to participate in programs and activities involving minors.  Please review the Education section of this website to learn in greater detail about the education and training requirements. 

Student volunteers may complete the following background checks on their own or meet with their Program Director to complete. As of July 25, 2015 both the Pennsylvania State Police Access to Criminal History (PATCH) and the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services Child Abuse History Clearance are free to obtain for all volunteers. Please note: A volunteer can only receive background certifications free of charge once every 57 months.

Pennsylvania State Police Access to Criminal History (PATCH) ( You will be required to submit your social security number.

  • Click on the New Record Check (Volunteers Only) button on the main logon page to run your free volunteer check.
  • Read the online instructions carefully, then mark and accept the Volunteer Acknowledgement Section.
  • Complete the information on the Personal Information screen and click Next.
  • Please make sure that once you have completed the criminal background check that you print  the certification form with the logo in the background.  Click here for an example of the PA State Police Response for Criminal Record Check.
    • Double click on the control number.
    • Double click on the blue hyper link “Certification Form” near the center of the page.
    • If the request returns a response of Record, you will not be able to print a certification form.  A record response will be mailed to the address provided.
  • If you are unable to print the results at this time you will need to document the Control Number, your name as it appears on the request, and the date of the request.  This information is necessary in order to retrieve your record check at a later date for printing.
  • Please upload a copy of the clearance results to your Novasis account for further review.  See Uploading Clearance Results for additional instructions.

Pennsylvania Department of Human Services Child Abuse History Clearance (

  • Please make sure that you know where you have resided and whom you have resided with since 1975. You will need this information to complete the on-line form.
  • Please also note that once you go into the site, it will ask you for a Keystone ID. You will need to create this login. It will later ask you to create a password, among a series of security questions.
  • Click on Create Clearance Application.
  • This clearance is free for volunteers starting on July 25, 2015.  Please make sure you select VOLUNTEER as the purpose for the application.
  • This site will send results electronically to the email address you have provided. You can request a paper copy sent to your home address.
  • Click here for an example of the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services Child Abuse History Clearance.
  • Print the results once they are available and upload a copy to your Novasis account for further review. See Uploading Clearance Results for additional instructions.

FBI Fingerprinting ( 8/30/2018)

Below is the new process VU student volunteers will need to follow for Villanova University to cover the associated costs for the FBI clearance check ($21.35).

  • Student volunteers will need to obtain an Authorization (Coupon) Code and Site Code from their Program Director prior to registering.
  • The registration process is completed online at
  • You will be prompted to enter a Service Code to begin enrollment. 
  • Student volunteers will register under the Department of Human Services (DHS). The Service Code for DHS volunteers is 1KG6ZJ
  • On the next screen select Schedule or Manage an Appointment.
  • The next few screens will collect essential information such as name, date of birth, address, etc. You will need to complete all required information. You must indicate you have an Authorization (Coupon) Code. Please note that you are now able to request that your clearance results be mailed to your local address at Villanova University which may expedite your receipt and, in turn, your ability to provide the results to your Program Director or upload them to your Novasis account as explained in the Uploading Clearance Results section below. 
  • You will be prompted to select a required proof of identification to bring with you when being fingerprinted.  The site will provide a list of acceptable documents.  VU Public Safety has requested that applicants bring a driver’s license or state ID card, if possible.
  • On the Location selection screen in the "Search for an Enrollment Center by Postal Code, City and State, or Airport Code” field you will enter the Site Code provided to you by your Program Director.  Please note that you cannot copy and paste the code into this field. With this code you will be able to walk in to VU Public Safety to have your FBI fingerprints done.
  • Select the Garey Hall location and click Next.
  • Enter your Authorization (Coupon) Code and click Next.
  • On the Appointment Date and Time screen, check the box for Walk In and then Submit.
  • Please print your Service Summary Report or record your Universal Enrollment Identification number (UEID).  The UEID will assist VU Public Safety in retrieving your registration.
  • Once the registration is complete you will receive a confirmation email.   
  • Take the confirmation email or your UEID along with the preferred method of identification you selected during the registration process and your Authorization Code to VU Department of Public Safety for fingerprinting (Monday-Friday from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m.).
  • The fingerprint scan process takes approximately 10-15 to complete and will require your picture to be taken.  
  • Registrants will receive their results in the mail. Please note that you are now able to request that your clearance results be mailed to your local address at Villanova University which may expedite your receipt and, in turn, your ability to provide the results to your Program Director or upload them to your Novasis account as explained in the Uploading Clearance Results section below. 
  • Once the results are obtained, upload a copy to your Novasis account for further review and keep the original.  See section on Uploading Clearance Results for additional instructions.  Please do not upload a copy of your FBI confirmation email.

For printable instructions on registering for the FBI clearances along with screenshots, please click here.

Uploading Clearance Results

Student volunteers have the ability to upload clearance results directly to their Novasis account. Clearance results will need to be scanned or saved as separate files to your computer.

  1. Go to the Student and Financial Aid Menu in Novasis.
  2. Click on PA153 Pennsylvania Background Check Information.
  3. Choose the icon next to the corresponding clearance name you wish to upload.
  4. Click on Browse and select the file name for upload.  Note: Only pdf, tif, jpeg, doc, docx, and txt type documents are permitted.
  5. Click the Upload button.
  6. Continue uploading clearance results as available.
  7. Upon successful upload of all documents, refresh the screen to see an updated status of your documents.
  8. Once the screen is refreshed a red flag will appear next to the name of each clearance uploaded.
  9. After the clearance has been reviewed and accepted, the red flag will change to a green checkmark.  This process may take several days. 

Student volunteers have the ability to view the status of the clearances at any time by returning to the PA153 Pennsylvania Background Check information screen in their Novasis account.  A red flag indicates that clearance results were submitted and awaiting review.  The presence of a green checkmark indicates that clearance results have been reviewed.  Once all three clearances have a green checkmark a student may begin volunteering. It is important that students check to see that all clearances have been accepted.

If a volunteer experiences trouble uploading, copies of the clearance results can be delivered to the University Compliance Office at 204 Tolentine Hall.

Changes to the VU Student Volunteer  Reimbursement Process

The Authorization (Coupon) Code process described above does not involve the outlay of any money by the student volunteer for the FBI clearance.  Instead, the University pays for these codes.  As such, the University will no longer reimburse students for the costs associated with this clearance.

We understand however, that some student volunteers may have already self-paid for their FBI clearance.  Thus, VU students who pay for the clearance on or before September 14, 2018 will be eligible to submit these costs for reimbursement as follows:

  • Student volunteers must upload their FBI clearance results through their Novasis account by no later than October 14, 2018.
  • Once the clearance results are reviewed by the University Compliance Office, student volunteers will receive an email with detailed instructions on how to request reimbursement including the deadline for submission.
  • The reimbursement will be credited to your student account.


The last possible day for VU student volunteers to submit for reimbursement for the cost of their FBI clearance through the Bursar’s Office is November 13, 2018.