Update on Social Work Licensing
Recent Changes in Licensing Law Reflect NASW Advocacy Efforts
December 15, 2010
• Issues relating to obtaining the LCSW addressed, including authorized settings and early determination of whether one's experience will count toward the LCSW.
• Most agencies now exempt from complying with the licensing law until 2013; NYS legislature expects exemptions to end at that time.
In this update, we share developments in the laws relating to social work licensing that were first reported in late June, with new information regarding the option to submit a plan for experience and supervision for obtaining the LCSW.
Legislation was signed into law that extends exemptions for agencies to comply with the licensing law until July 1, 2013, and there has been significant legal clarification through legislation about what an authorized setting is for practicing social work.
The State Education department now has greater authority and flexibility in accepting various settings as qualifying for the practice of clinical social work, although the regulations continue to require doing diagnosis and psychotherapy as a primary function for qualifying for the LCSW.
In addition to legislative developments, regulatory changes have reduced the number of hours required for both work experience and hours of supervision for obtaining the LCSW and provides greater flexibility regarding the supervision in terms of individual or group.
Significantly for LMSWs trying to qualify for the LCSW, the State Education Department has implemented a new procedure to allow for a review of one's work setting and supervision as one begins their work towards the LCSW. A plan (referred to as "form 6") may now be submitted before starting out to qualify for the LCSW. In the past many social workers discovered at the time they applied for the LCSW that their three to six years of experience did not qualify them for the clinical license. The opportunity to submit "form six" in advance of obtaining the experience for the LCSW should prove to be helpful to many social workers.
NASW worked hard over the past few years to seek the revisions to the licensing law that have been enacted.
In addition to these developments, SED has also made regulatory changes relating to the "R" privilege.
We present below a more detailed update developed by Karin Moran of the New York State Chapter of NASW. The New York City Chapter is working very closely with our sister Chapter, located in Albany.
Regulatory Changes Related to Social Work Practice
A number of significant changes have recently transpired in relation to social work licensure. In addition to the recently passed legislation finally resolving the corporate practice issue related to social work licensure and the extension and expansion of the state agency exemption, we have worked closely with the staff from the State Education Department (who we thank) on regulatory changes that alter the landscape considerably.
Primarily, the changes reflect our multi-year efforts to alleviate a number of cumbersome barriers to licensure such as prescribed weekly hourly requirements in relation to client contact and supervision, the structure of supervision and difficulty applicants faced when attempting to determine if their particular setting was deemed "appropriate."
Under the new regulations, clinical requirements for licensure as an LCSW no longer require 20 client contact hours per week (full time) or ten client contact hours per week (part time) over the course of 48 weeks per year. Instead, applicants are now allowed to aggregate their clinical experience over the course of no less than three years and no more than six years for a total of 2,000 hours. This is essentially a reduction of 880 hours. Such a provision is in direct response to input from members of the profession and was designed to alleviate a substantial burden on potential applicants while continuing to maintain one of the highest standards for licensure (at the clinical level) in the nation. Please note however, that the scope of what is considered acceptable clinical experience has not changed and still includes diagnosis, assessment based treatment planning and psychotherapy.
Supervisory hours are no longer prescribed at four hours per month (two of which could take place in a group setting), but can now be accrued and aggregated over the period of supervised experience. The aggregated hours must be a minimum of 100 hours distributed appropriately, conducted face to face, and can now be received in the form of individual OR group sessions.
The State Education Department has developed an optional prospective review mechanism, a measure that will allow the LMSW to submit a plan for supervised experience in a specific setting for review and approval by the State Board for Social Work, thus alleviating the potential risk for applicants completing three years of experience, only to learn it was acquired in an unauthorized setting, the scope of work is not sufficient or the supervision not appropriate. Applications can be located on the SED website (form 6) at http://www.op.nysed.gov/prof/sw/lcsw6.pdf
Changes / Clarifications regarding the "R" Privilege
As you are probably aware, once an individual acquires an LCSW they have completed the necessary experience to independently practice clinical social work and seek (and receive, in many instances) third party reimbursement. However, NY State offers an additional privilege (embedded in Insurance Law) mandating that certain providers reimburse individuals possessing an "R" if such contract provides reimbursement to subscribers or physicians, psychiatrists or psychologists for psychiatric or psychological services. Requirements for such privilege can be located at www.op.nysed.gov/prof/sw/lcswprivilege.htm#forms Please note, though, that over the course of altering the regulations iterated above regarding the practice of social work, the SED also proposed a number of regulatory changes regarding the R privilege, most of which have been accepted. A number of these changes were opposed by NASW-NYS (see our comments on such changes at www.naswnys.org/2Chapters%20Emergency%20Reg%20Comments.pdf)
Applicants seeking the "R" privilege are now required to submit a supervisory experience plan prior to commencement of such supervised experience. The form can be located at www.op.nysed.gov/prof/sw/swpr6.pdf. In addition; such applicants must be supervised by an individual holding an R credential as opposed to the longstanding practice and allowance of peer supervision. Such supervision must be two or more hours per month.
Experience for the R privilege remains at 2400 hours over the course of three years, however, effective January 2011, such experience may not commence until the individual has obtained their LCSW.
The application fee for the R privilege has increased from $85.00 to $100.00
While NY State does not offer "reciprocity" from one state to another regarding the licensure of social work, new regulations do offer "endorsements" of a clinical social work licensed issued in another jurisdiction, with standards similar to New York, for applicants seeking licensure in NY State. Such endorsement applicants need to possess "At least 10 years of licensed practice during the 15 years immediately preceding the application for licensure in New York. In addition, the applicant must demonstrate: licensure as a LCSW on the basis of an a master's degree in social work from an acceptable school, post-degree supervised clinical experience, and the passage of a clinical examination in social work acceptable to the department. The applicant must also be of good character, complete coursework in the identification and reporting of suspected child abuse, and submit the application for licensure and fee established in law and regulation."
Should you have questions or comments regarding the regulatory changes, it is advised that you examine the regulations on the SED website. You can also submit questions to the New York City Chapter office and we will make every effort to get back to you within a few days: firstname.lastname@example.org.
For our prior update on licensing from June 2010, click here.