Welcome to the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare’s Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Background Clearance Page. 

The purpose of this page is to ensure individuals are aware of Act 73 of 2007 which was signed by Governor Edward G. Rendell on December 18, 2007.  Act 73 amended Title 23, Pa. C.S. Chapter 63 (relating to the Child Protective Services Law), specifically §§ 6344 as it relates to background checks required as a condition of employment.  We recommend that all affected persons, including foster and adoptive parent applicants and their adult household members, as well as child care service employees and administrators, become familiar with both the law and regulation. 

The law requires that as of January 1, 2008, all prospective foster and adoptive parent applicants, as well as household members over the age of 18 must obtain a fingerprint based FBI clearance prior to approval.  This FBI clearance is in addition to the already required child abuse and Pennsylvania State Police criminal history record checks.  The law also requires that as of July 1, 2008, any prospective employees of a child care service and self-employed family day care operators must obtain a fingerprint based FBI clearance prior to approval.  This is also in addition to the already required child abuse and Pennsylvania State Police criminal history record checks. 

FEDERAL (FBI) CRIMINAL HISTORY REPORT

Fee:  $40.00

Money orders are made payable to Cogent Systems.

No cash, personal or business checks are accepted at print locations

Payment may be made online at www.pa.cogentid.com

The fingerprint-based background check is a multiple-step process:

   1. The applicant must register prior to going to the fingerprint site.  Walk in service without prior registration will not be provided at any fingerprinting location.  

Registration is available online 24 hours/day, seven days per week at www.pa.cogentid.com

Telephonic registration is available at 1-888-439-2486 Monday through Friday, 8am to 6pm EST.   During the registration process, all demographic data for the applicant is collected (name, address, SSN, etc.) there is no data entry required at the fingerprint collection site.

   2. The applicant will pay a fee of $40.00 for the fingerprint service and to secure the Criminal History Record.  Applicants may make their payment online at www.pa.cogentid.com using a credit card or debit card.  Money orders or cashiers checks payable to Cogent Systems will be accepted on site for those applicants who do not have the means to pay electronically.  No cash transactions or personal checks are allowed.

            a. Cogent Systems will also establish a billing procedure for these services from an appropriate requesting agency that is willing to pay the applicant’s fee.  Billing may only occur after the requesting agency has completed the Cogent Systems’ Agency Pay Agreement.  To establish a billing account visit the website www.pa.cogentid.com and download an application.  The billing account must be established prior to sending applicants to the fingerprint site.

  3. The applicant proceeds to the fingerprint site of their choice for fingerprinting.  The location of the fingerprint sites and days and hours of operation for each site will be posted on Cogent Systems’ website at www.pa.cogentid.com.  The location of
fingerprint sites may change over time so applicants are encouraged to confirm the site location nearest to their location.

  4. At the fingerprint site the Applicant Livescan Operators (ALO) manage the fingerprint collection process.

  5. The fingerprint transaction begins when the ALO reviews the applicant’s qualified State or Federal photo ID before processing the applicant’s transaction.  A list of approved ID types may be found on the Cogent Systems’ website at www.pa.cogentid.com.  Applicants will not be processed if they cannot produce an acceptable photo ID. 
 
  6.  After the identity of the applicant has been established, all ten fingers are scanned to complete the process.  The entire fingerprint capture process should take no more than three to five minutes.

  7. The applicant’s scanned fingerprints will be electronically transmitted to the Pennsylvania State Police, who in turn submits the fingerprints and demographic information to the FBI as required by federal statute.

  8. DPW will receive the Federal Criminal History Record from the FBI.  DPW’s Background Checks Unit through ChildLine and Abuse Registry will return the Federal Criminal History Record to the applicant.  The Record will be printed on standard 8.5” X 11” paper with the Commonwealth Seal imbedded on the paper. This document constitutes an official Record.  If an applicant presents their Federal Criminal History Record and the Commonwealth Seal is not embedded on the paper, it should be considered as invalid and not an official Record. 

Do not contact Cogent Systems or the fingerprint site after your fingerprints have been submitted.  Cogent Systems does not have the means to give the applicant the status of their background check.  Complete processing of the FBI Criminal History Record should take no longer than 4 – 6 weeks.  If the applicant does not receive the Criminal History Record from DPW in this time frame, they should call (717) 783-6211

  9. The applicant will then provide the Federal Criminal History Record to their prospective employer.

Fingerprint Corrections and Resubmissions

In circumstances where a classifiable fingerprint record was not or cannot be obtained and immediately upon indication, Cogent Systems will take corrective action to re-submit, or re-print the applicant at no cost to the applicant.  This corrective action will be completed at the earliest possible time, and when applicable, that is convenient for the applicant.  Cogent Systems will contact the applicant directly should this occur.   NOTE: Reprinting can be applied to each applicant one time only.  If fingerprinting must take place a third time the applicant must pay the full fee.

Group Fingerprinting Support

Some, not all, fingerprint service sites have the ability to bring portable equipment to your site.  If you are in need of Group Fingerprinting Support, visit www.pa.cogentid.com.  Service sites in your area that have mobile equipment will be listed.  NOTE: Mobile service is at an additional charge.  Mobile services require the visited site to provide broadband internet access and access through any firewall.  The sites that offer mobile services can provide you instructions, in advance of their visit, that would allow fingerprinting to occur at your site.  You must however, plan ahead.  Requirements for hosting a mobile Livescan operation can be found at www.pa.cogentid.com 

We encourage you to utilize this service but you must plan ahead.  Please do not overwhelm the service by sending large groups of applicants to the fixed site locations.  If you must send your large group of applicants to a fixed site, please plan for their arrival to occur over days and weeks, not over hours. 

Confidentiality (Security) of Applicant Information

On-site access to the Livescan equipment, and the data traveling from the equipment, is comprehensively secured and regulated by both Cogent Systems and the regulations governing the use of that data.

The Computer System - The system will be housed within a secured network that is protected by firewall devices configured explicitly to allow only permissible protocols and traffic.  Cogent Systems will ensure that all devices procured under this process continue to adhere to the Commonwealth’s Security requirements.  The proposed systems will be configured to provide a point of defense with controlled access from both inside and outside the network.  The Livescan systems will be configured to support logging and audit capability.  Furthermore, the Livescan solution will support 128 bit encryption.

Inquiries or Questions

All information regarding process, policy, and fingerprinting locations may be found at www.pa.cogentid.com

Fingerprint applicants should contact (717) 783-6211.

Do not contact Cogent Systems or the fingerprint site after your fingerprints have been submitted.  Cogent Systems does not have the means to give the applicant the status of their background check.  Complete processing of the FBI Criminal History Record should take no longer than 4 – 6 weeks.  If the applicant does not receive the Criminal History Record from DPW in this time frame, they should call (717) 783-6211

Fingerprint Services Sites should contact Blake Godard at bgodard@cogentsystems.com