Thank you for volunteering with the Office of Science Outreach! Youth safety is the most important part of any program. See below for details on how to get your publicly available background clearances and relevant policies and procedures.
What do I need to volunteer?
When you sign up for an event, OSO staff will let you know what types of trainings and clearances you may need. However, this should help clarify the situation.
Public Events (Exploration-U, Haunted-U, Ask A Scientist, Open Mic Night, etc.)
For public events where children are attending with a parent/guardian, no clearances or special trainings are necessary.
Guest Speakers & Workshop Leaders (ENVISION Workshops, Think Outside the Beaker, Science-U Guest Presenters, etc.)
For registered events with children where you'll be in contact with them but they are not under your sole supervision, you must take mandated reporter training and send the certificate to the event organizer (or firstname.lastname@example.org if you're not sure who the event organizer is.) See "Building a Safe Penn State: Reporting Child Abuse" Training below.
Mentors (ENVISION, Science-U, etc.)
If you are a mentor who will be supervising children, paid or volunteer, you are legally required to have three publicly available clearances AND mandated reporter training. These are the same three clearances necessary to be a teacher and are absolutely necessary to ensure legal compliance and the safest possible environment for children at our programs. See below for details.
Building a Safe Penn State: Reporting Child Abuse
This training must be completed every year. (The training certificate expires 365 days after the date the training was completed.) The training must be completed in order to learn how to recognize child abuse and how to properly report child abuse. This is a 1 hour online training. Provided below are the directions for completing the training.
- Go to the Learning Resource Network (LRN) page at http://lrn.psu.edu/
- Log in: If you are not a PSU employee, click "Volunteer/Other". You will then be able to login with your existing LRN username/password or create an account. If you are a PSU employee, click "Faculty, Staff, & Wage". You will be able to either login with your PSU Access Account or create an LRN username/password if you do not have an Access Account. (If this does not work, please see troubleshooting tips below.)
- Once you have logged in, search for "Building a Safe Penn State: Reporting Child Abuse" in the upper right-hand corner. The training should appear.
- If you HAVE taken the training in past years, click "Request", NOT "Launch". This will make sure that a new instance of the training opens. If you have NOT taken the training before, simply click "Launch".
- Once you have completed the training, send your certificate of completion to email@example.com
If you suspect that a child has been or is at risk of being abused or neglected, anyone can report by using ChildLine either at this link for an e-form or by calling 1-800-932-0313. Penn State employees, volunteers, and contractors must also follow AD72 and complete all steps outlined therein.
Publicly Available Clearances
Individuals (employees or volunteers) who will have extended contact with youth, such as mentors, directors, and instructors must obtain the following publicly available background clearances as required by Pennsylvania state law and Penn State University Human Resources policies.
- Pennsylvania State Police Criminal Background Check (SP4-164)
- Pennsylvania Child Abuse History Clearance Form (CY-113)
- Federal (FBI) Fingerprint Background Check (Criminal History Report)
Employment and volunteering with the Eberly College of Science outreach program is contingent upon completion of these clearances and it is suggested that individuals start the process as soon as an offer of employment or volunteer position has been received and accepted. See below for detailed instructions on obtaining clearances.
Learn More about the Office of Science Outreach Here
Contact us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a call at (814) 865-0083
Office of Science Outreach, 201 Ritenour Building, University Park, PA 16802