June 30, 2010
With Important New Legislation and Regulations,
Licensing Enters Next Phase
Governor Paterson has signed into law legislation passed by the New York State Senate and Assembly that extends exemptions from the licensing law, and in a separate development, emergency regulations went into effect on June 29 that change requirements for obtaining the LCSW.
Every social worker and social work employer having anything to do with the LMSW and the LCSW should be aware of these developments and be ready to track developments over time. The most recent legislative and regulatory developments are highlighted below.
Two Aspects to the Legislation
A. New Exemptions and What will be Expected
The first part of the legislation is that exemptions from the requirements for complying with the licensing law has been extended until July 1, 2013.
This means that the following State agencies and the non-profits that they fund and regulate will not be required to employ licensed professionals for three years. This includes OMH, OMRDD, and OASAS, which are all part of the Department of Mental Hygiene, and the Office of Children and Family Services. In addition, three additional State agencies are now exempted: the Department of Health, the State Office for the Aging, and the Department of Correctional Services.
In order to assure that these agencies are ready to come into full compliance with the licensing statute in 2013, these agencies must provide workforce data to the Commissioner of Education by October 1, 2010. By July 1, 2011, a personnel utilization report and a detailed plan of action will be required, and this will become the basis of further regulatory and legislative change, if needed.
NASW expects to participate in a task force of stakeholders convened by the State Education Department (SED) over this period of time to review the workforce data and plans for compliance.
B. Resolving Corporate Practice Restrictions
The legislation also grants the State Education Department authority to waive restrictions on non-profits that have legally prohibited them from employing licensed social workers. This will affect the ability to employ both LMSWs and LCSWs, and may allow SED greater discretion in authorizing settings for LMSWs to qualify for the LCSW.
SED is now expected to issue regulations so that this part of the legislation can be implemented. NASW will follow the development of these regulations and keep members and employers posted of issues that might affect them.
New State Regulations Relate to Obtaining the LCSW and the “R” Privilege
SED has moved to implement what are considered emergency regulations, and they are in effect as of June 29. They will become permanent in September following a public comment period.
This means that changes could be made in the coming months that alter what has just been adopted on a temporary basis, but the changes adopted on June 29 clearly reflect SED’s position. It is also worth noting that the following changes are likely to apply to social workers who have been in the process of obtaining the LCSW prior to June 29. In addition, SED may need to re-open applications that they denied in the past, and apply the new requirements. All of this will require further clarification from SED and NASW will keep members posted.
While the experience requirement continues to be diagnosis, treatment planning and psychotherapy, the regulations do the following:
1) Reduce the total number of client contact hours (over a minimum of three years) required to obtain the LCSW from 2,880 to 2,000. On a weekly basis for full time work this is a reduction from 20 hours to 14. For someone working part time over six years to qualify for the LCSW, this would mean a minimum of seven hours per week.
2) Adjust the total hours of required in-person supervision from 144 hours to a minimum of 100 hours, to reflect the reduction in client contact hours. Also, supervision may either be individual or in a group; until now only 50% of all supervision in groups is allowed.
3) Offer prospective review of the setting and supervisor for an LMSW seeking the clinical license. Many social workers have experienced applying for their LCSW after believing that they met all of the requirements only to be denied on the basis that their setting or supervisor was not acceptable. SED will allow LMSWs to submit a plan at the beginning of their efforts to obtain their LCSW and to find out early on whether their situation will be acceptable.
4) Simplify the process by which LCSWs qualify for the “R” credential for 3rd part reimbursement.
NASW remains especially concerned about which settings become authorized for obtaining the LCSW, and will continue to address this with SED.
The proposal of rulemaking is here: http://www.dos.state.ny.us/info/register/2010/jun30/pdfs/rulemaking.pdf
The full regulatory text is here: http://www.regents.nysed.gov/meetings/2010Meetings/June2010/0610ppca1.pdf
NASW will provide additional information when it becomes available. Members are advised to go the website of the Office of the Professions to access new applications and any documents that they will post relating to the developments highlighted here.
The LMSW Exam Remains a Focus
NASW will continue to closely examine the impact of the LMSW exam, which includes the passage rate, how social workers prepare for the exam, and the lack of data reflecting whether there are differences among groups of social workers in the experience of the exam.
The lack of data about the exam is especially noteworthy, as is the fact the exam is validated for its use across the United States, but not specifically in New York. Obtaining clarification about these issues will be on NASW’s agenda in this fall.
Over the next several months, and for the next three years when the exemption period ends, NASW will be playing a leadership role in addressing the issues relating to the developments emerging out of the legislation and regulations highlighted here. Click here to read the NASW-NYC Issues Paper on the LMSW