February 25, 2014
Update on the Continuing Education Mandate in NY
State Education Department Has Published Draft Regulations
- Social workers and employers should be familiar with the requirements.
- Public comment period is open until April 20. Regulations expected to be finalized by May.
- NASW-NYC will keep members posted on requirements before the law goes into effect in January 2015. The need to accumulate CE credits begins at that time.
On February 19, 2014, the State Education Department published draft regulations relating to the new mandate for continuing education (CE) for licensed social workers. This follows Governor Cuomo signing into law Chapter 443 of the laws of 2013, which is the statute for the mandate. The law goes into effect on January 1, 2015.
The regulations delineate more specifically than the statute how the law will be implemented, and some of the details of this are presented below. The public will now have 45 days to comment on the draft regulations, or to raise questions or concerns. The specified deadline for commenting is April 20, 2014.
NASW will itself send comments, along with questions and concerns during this period. Any individual or organization that wants to review the draft regulations can do so through the link at the bottom of this page.
The Mandate for All License Holders to Renew Their License
Basically, 36 credit hours will be required over a three year period, and licensees will have to certify that they have obtained these credits upon renewing their license. Documentation requirements relating to the specific educational experiences are specified in the regulations, both for individual license holders and for providers of continuing education. While the documentation will not be submitted upon renewal of the license, it must be on file and the state has the legal right to check this.
The regulations specify what happens when a license holder does not fulfill the requirements, including suspending the license and curtailing one's ability to practice. The requirements to re-activate the license are addressed, involving making up continuing education credits. Licensees who have not been practicing and want to re-active their license will also need to be aware of what is required. NASW-NYC will be seeking clarification on exactly how many CE hours will be needed to deal with these situations.
New License Holders are Exempt for their First Registration Period
As NASW-NYC has pointed out in previous communications to NASW members, new license holders will not be required to obtain continuing education credits in order to renew their license. Only after new license holders renew their license will the requirements for CE go into effect for them, for the subsequent three years. At the following renewal, which will be six years after obtaining the license, CE credits will need to be documented.
The draft regulations go on to address the type of subjects that will be acceptable, as well as what is involved in organizations becoming approved providers of CE. The primary goal of this learning, as cited in the regulations, is to enhance social work practice, skills, and knowledge and the health, safety, and/or welfare of the public.
The following subjects are listed in the regs as appropriate for CE credit. As of this time, no particular subject is required, so the licensee has a range of choices in what to take.
- Theories and concepts of human behavior in the social environment
- Social work practice, knowledge and skills
- Social work research, programs or practice evaluation
- Social work management, administration or social policy
- Social work ethics
- Clinical interventions, evidence based models, and principles of clinical social work practice, psychotherapy, and clinical social work diagnosis
- Client communications and recordkeeping
- Administrative supervision of LMSW and LCSW practice
- Pedagogical methodologies or other topics that contribute to professional practice
- Cross-disciplinary offerings, if related to enhancement of sw practice, skills, knowledge, and the health, safety and welfare of the public, in the following:
- The behavioral sciences
Some credit for CE can also be obtained through:
- Preparing and teaching a course offered by a provider of CE
- Making a technical presentation at a professional conference
- Completing a self-study program, but not more than 12 hours in 3-year registration period
- Authoring a first time article published in peer reviewed journal or chapter in a book, or authoring a book.
The regulations identify conditions for this type of CE and the limit on the number of hours that can be accumulated.
Subjects not considered appropriate for social work CE
The regulations also identify the following subjects that will not count toward fulfilling the mandate:
- Personal development
- Business practices
- Maximizing profits
For CE courses, 50 minutes will qualify as one hour of credit.
Both face-to-face learning experiences and on-line trainings will be acceptable for CE credits, with on-line trainings being both live and self-study. There will be limits on how many hours could be accumulated through self-study. Some amount of CE credit can also be accumulated through teaching and writing.
Providers of CE Must be Approved by SED
The regulations specify that CE providers must be approved by submitting an application and a $900 fee, and the approval period is for three years. The regs delineate the following types of organizations that can be providers.
- Higher education institutions with programs leading to social work licensure in NYS. NASW-NYC will be seeking clarification about institutions outside of the state.
- A national social work organization or other professional organization that fosters good practice in social work. NASW-NYC will inquire if organizations such as medical associations or other non-social work associations might be considered, and if acceptable, under what criteria.
- A NYS social work organization acceptable to the department. NASW-NYC is assumed to fit under this category.
- An entity operated under an operating certificate issued under article 16, 31 and 32 of mental hygiene law or a hospital, health facility, under article 28 of public health law. This related primarily to mental health service providers and health and hospitals. NASW-NYC will be seeking to determine whether organizations in child welfare, aging and other fields might also become providers, and such organizations have already reached out to NASW inquiring about this.
- Psychotherapy institutes registered in New York.
The regulations cite that entities other than the ones listed above might be eligible but do not clarify what the criteria would be. NASW-NYC will be seeking clarification about this.
Issues of concern to NASW-NYC include the Following:
- Whether social workers will have enough access to CE learning opportunities, and at reasonable cost: NASW-NYC plans to expand its CE offerings beginning in 2015, including organizing a major conference (date to be announced), but the total demand for CE offerings is expected to be greater than any one organization's ability to provide them. There will be room for many providers of CE.
- Whether some organizations that would want to offer CE will meet adequate standards for providing training in social work: Other NASW chapters across the country have raised concerns about this in the past, and NASW and the schools of social work have been examining this.
A common question that social workers have been asking is whether they can accumulate CE credits prior to the law going into effect. It is NASW-NYC's understanding that this will not be permitted, and the regs state that credits accumulated in one period (relating to the applicable period of the license registration) cannot be applied to another period.
Once the law goes into effect, if one's license renewal will come up in less than three years, the amount of CE credits needed will be prorated. For example, if the renewal comes up in one year, then only 12 credits will be needed.