MCAP’s volunteer attorneys, known throughout Montgomery County as “MCAPs,” represent hundreds of child victims each year. They all say it is the most rewarding work they do! In addition to the mandatory training “The Art of Representing Children” required of all MCAPs, there are several clearances our volunteers need complete before they can start taking cases. As MCAP’s first Compliance Coordinator, part of my job is to help our employees and volunteers complete that process.
First enacted in 1975, amended in 2014 and again in 2019, the Child Protective Services Law (CPSL) has undergone substantial review and amendments. The CPSL was enacted to prevent children from “suffering further injury and impairment” and “encourage more complete reporting of suspected child abuse.” (23 Pa.C.S. §6302). The law requires anyone having direct contact with children to obtain special clearances – even those in volunteer positions. This means that all MCAP volunteers are required to obtain updated clearances every 60 months from the date of the oldest clearance. In addition to MCAP registration forms, the required state clearances include:
The last item, “Recognizing and Reporting Child Abuse,” is a 3-hour online video training course provided by the University of Pittsburgh and approved by the PA Department of Human Services and Department of State to meet mandated reporting training requirements. The course is designed for completion by various youth-service professionals – from MCAPs to teachers, coaches, and school counselors – and provides information and instruction on Pennsylvania child protection laws and mandated reporting. It also gives an overview of the PA Child Welfare System including indicators of abuse, the effects of child abuse, and why and how to report child abuse. This training is open to anyone with an interest in protecting children. If you would like to be a mandated reporter, please see https://www.reportabusepa.pitt.edu/.
Our MCAPs are given the essential task of ensuring the safety and wellbeing of Montgomery County’s most vulnerable children through legal advocacy. With the various compliance measures mentioned above, we are ensuring our volunteer advocates are vetted and well-prepared for their life-saving job.
If you are already an MCAP and are due to update your clearances, you’ll be hearing from me soon! Or you can reach out to me for assistance at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you!