10-Hour Rule: How to Avoid Volunteers Slipping Through the Cracks
Positions that take a hands-on role with children, such as Pennsylvania teachers, require rolling background checks to maintain the safety of students and staff. You might already know that volunteers need some form of clearance, but it isn’t always obvious where to draw the line.
Schools have a hard-enough time monitoring the backgrounds of their contracted employees. How can they possibly keep up with the plethora of parent and community volunteers? With the state cracking down, it’s more important to understand the 10-hour rule now more than ever.
10-Hour Rule: Out with the Old, In with the New
Schools never used to require that volunteers obtain background checks. As long as a parent or volunteer was working under the guidance of someone with teacher clearances, they had nothing to worry about.
Things have changed, and the state is enforcing the new regulations. Now, anyone who works with children (under 18) must provide required background screenings for any work clocking over 10 hours. That’s why it’s dubbed the “10-hour rule.”
But this doesn’t apply to one-off events – it's cumulative. How can schools possibly monitor all of their volunteers when they’re already failing to collect clearances for contracted employees?
The 10-hour rule means that volunteers must obtain
· A criminal history report from the Pennsylvania State Police (PSP)
· Child Abuse History Clearance from the Department of Human Services (DHS)
· A federal fingerprinting background check from the FBI if the volunteer has lived out of Pennsylvania anytime within the last ten years
Remember that the term “volunteer” applies to a broad range of positions including parent chaperones, tutors, coaches, and many other jobs.
Do Volunteers Really Need Teacher Clearances?
Short answer: yes, but it depends.
In general, anyone who takes a volunteer position that involves interaction with children as part of their routine needs specific teacher clearances from the Department of Human Services (DHS) and Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) (Keep Kids Safe n.d.).
In many cases, volunteers are responsible for taking care of children in lieu of a parent or guardian. Without adequate background checks, students are at risk for abuse and schools are at risk for fines, lawsuits, and PR nightmares.
At least two Pennsylvania schools in Lancaster and Penn Hill already came up short in this respect with by failing to obtain background checks on their contracted bus drivers. In fact, a few of the bus drivers had criminal convictions that should have prohibited them from working in the position (DePasquale, 2016 and 2018).
A similar situation happened at Pennsylvania State University in 2017 when an audit report showed that the school was not running background checks on individuals working in their youth outreach program (DePasquale, 2017).
How Workforce Management Can Help Pennsylvania Teachers and Volunteers
Workforce management can take the headache out of tracking every volunteer’s hours and making sure your organization stays within the 10-hour rule. With the state of Pennsylvania enforcing the regulations on the books, there’s no reason to take any chances.
Application Validation’s ProVerify™ Scholastic Solution can help keep monitor volunteers with customized screening and automatic tracking.
Eugene A. DePasquale (2017), Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Department of the Auditor General, Pennsylvania State University Performance Audit Report, retrieved from
Eugene A. DePasquale (2016), Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Department of the Auditor General, Penn Hills School District Audit Report, retrieved from
Eugene A. DePasquale (2018), Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Department of the Auditor General, School District of Lancaster Audit Report, retrieved from
Keep Kids Safe, Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (DHS) n.d. Volunteers: frequently asked questions. Retrieved from