BBS Update

August 28, 2014

Jill Epstein, JD
Executive Director

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A. Budget
The 2013-2014 budget for the Board was $8,240,648, with the fiscal year ending on June 30, 2014. The Board’s budget for fiscal year 2014-2015 is $ 9,139,000.

The Board’s loan balance to the General Fund is $10.9 million dollars. This figure reflects the $1.4 million dollar repayment received in 2013-2014. The Board is scheduled to receive an $800,000 dollar loan repayment in 2014-2015. This repayment is reflected in the current fund condition; leaving a General Fund loan balance of $10.1 million dollars at the end of fiscal year 2014-2015.

B. Operations/Personnel
There have been technical challenges with BreEZe gathering the usual statistics and reports.

The additional licensing staff has already made a positive impact on the Board’s licensing backlogs. Since May 27, 2014, the licensing staff has reduced the examination application backlog by nearly four months for LMFT applicants. As of August 25, 2014, the licensing staff is evaluating LMFT examination applications received the week of February 9, 2014. The BBS goal is still get the exam evaluation processing time to 90 days by the end of the year and the goal is to extend the new evaluators’ two-year limited positions. CAMFT raised concern that the backlog could resume in two-years if the positions are not extended or made permanent.

Two positions remain to be filled in the licensing unit, including a management service technician to assist LMFT and LCSW exam evaluations in two year limited term position in the licensing unit. Recruitment is underway for the remaining three positions received this fiscal year. The positions include an additional probation monitor, an enforcement analyst, and a support position.

A video was created for the BBS website to assist ASWs with understanding the licensing process. A video to assist MFT Interns is being planned.

The average time from complaint receipt to closure of the investigation process is 124 days, which is below the goal of 180 days. This does not include cases sent to the Attorney General or other forms of formal discipline. The average number of days to complete the entire enforcement process for cases resulting in formal discipline (intake, investigation by the Board and prosecution by the Attorney General) is 846 days, which is well above the targeted goal of 540 days.

The initial release of the BreEZe system was implemented earlier in 2014. Some of the language in the existing BrEZe displays are not accurate and are confusing for applicants. It was suggested that applicants not rely on the online information and, instead, defer to the paper communications. An August release was expected to include the ability to renew licenses online. However, that was delayed because of more critical fixes and is now expected to launch in November, 2014. CAMFT asked that the BBS post an online tutorial for licensees to assist with this feature and the BBS indicated a commitment to do so.

C. Strategic Plan Update
CAMFT noted that the plan includes goals of establishing a recruitment process for Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) to ensure a diverse pool on which to draw for case evaluations. CAMFT offered assistance with recruiting efforts. CAMFT also expressed a strong desire that SMEs who work on Child Custody Evaluation cases be highly skilled, with strong accountability, as AB 1843 is implemented.

D. Supervision Committee Update
In November 2013, the Supervision Committee was appointed to conduct a holistic review of the current requirements for supervised work experience and requirements for supervisors. The Committee anticipates submitting its recommendations to the Board in 2016. The Committee met in June and CAMFT’s minutes from the meeting can be found here. The consensus of the committee and stakeholders was that changes should be made to the current requirements in order to streamline the “buckets”. The next Committee meeting is scheduled for August 29, 2014.

E. Rulemaking Update

Exam Re-Structure
This proposal would revise Board regulations for clarity and consistency with statutory changes
made by SB 704 (Chapter 387, Statutes of 2011), which restructures the examination process for LMFT, LCSW, and LPCC applicants effective January 1, 2016.

This proposal was originally approved by the Board at its meeting in February 2013, and published in its California Regulatory Notice Register on March 15, 2013. However, the proposal was withdrawn in May 2013, as staff learned of implementation conflicts with the new BreEZe database system. For this reason, the effective date of the restructure was delayed until 2016,per SB 821 (Chapter 473, Statutes of 2013).

The Board voted to revise the regulations for consistency and clarity, as follows: change the names of the exams and describes what the new examinations are designed to assess; clarify the criteria for eligibility to take the law and ethics exam to indicate that the applicant must either hold a current, delinquent or cancelled intern registration OR have an approved examination eligibility (licensure) application; clarify the time frames during which a registrant or applicant must take the California Law and Ethics examination; clarify the waiting periods between exam attempts; changes application abandonment criteria to fit the new application process; incorporate language allowing the Board to accept the national examinations for LMFT and LCSW licensure, if the examinations are determined to be acceptable by the Board; make technical amendments such as removing obsolete language, correcting authority and reference citations, and adding “licensed” to references to marriage and family therapists.

The Board discussed their desire to obtain statistics on pass rates/number of attempts for the Law and Ethics exam. The Board can refine the legislation if future data demonstrates that there are perpetual test-takers who fail the exam multiple times.

The Board is planning a year of outreach about the components of the exam restructure, using a variety of mechanisms.

Uniform Standards for Discipline of Substance Abusing Licensees
This is a regulatory proposal that the Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) and the Legislature have asked all healing arts licensing boards to run. It creates uniform standards for discipline that the boards must abide by in cases of licensee or registrant substance abuse. The Board has considered and approved these regulations several times, most recently at its March 6, 2014 meeting. However, DCA has now requested additional amendments in order to gain its approval, which is required for the regulations to continue to move forward. The amendments remove the option to deviate from the Uniform Standards in certain substance abuse violation circumstances when the licensee does not rebut that the violation is a substance abuse violation. A rebuttal, however, is not defined. Board Counsel noted that a rebuttal is “credible evidence for a fact-finder”. CAMFT will be reviewing the proposed regulations during the comment period.

The Board voted to make the changes and approved text for 15-day period and delegated to Executive Officer to make any non-substantive changes to pursue the rulemaking.

Continuing Education
This proposal would make a number of changes to the Board’s continuing education program. These proposed changes are based on the recommendations of the Board’s Continuing Education Committee, which was formed in 2011 in response to a number of concerns raised about continuing education.

The final proposal was submitted to OAL, who required several changes to the proposed text. The 15-day public comment period for these changes ended on July 18, 2014. The revised proposal is now awaiting the signature of the DCA director, then to OAL for final consideration. It is expected to be decided by September 19, 2014.

LPCC Treatment of Couples and Families
This proposal clarifies requirements for LPCCs to treat couples and families and outlines a process by which LPCCs and PCC Interns would receive Board confirmation that they have met the requirements to treat couples and families. The final proposal was approved by the Board at its meeting in May 2014. Staff is developing materials that are required for submission of the proposal to OAL for publication, which will begin the 45-day public comment period.

F. Legislation
AB 1629 (Bonita): The bill would make costs incurred for certain services provided by violence peer counselors reimbursable to crime victims through the California Victim Compensation Board. This bill
raised some scope issues and issues about settings. It could appear to authorize unlicensed psychotherapy services. Because of the late date of this language, a request was made for a rule waiver to get the amendments. That request was denied.

BBS has provided options for possible fixes; however the bill could now only be fixed via urgency legislation in 2015 if it is signed by the Governor. The author’s office has committed to running urgency legislation.

The Board recommended that urgency legislation clarifies that the supervisor is a BBS-approved supervisor. The Board also noted that the topic of peer counselors should be discussed in the upcoming BBS Exempt Committee.

The Board voted to oppose, unless amended, with a detailed letter.

The Board reviewed the status of legislation it has sponsored:

AB 1843 (Jones and Gordon): Child Custody Evaluators: Confidentiality. This bill seeks statutory authority to access a child custody evaluation report for the purpose of investigating allegations that one of its licensees, while serving as a child custody evaluator, engaged in unprofessional conduct in the creation of the report.

CAMFT had previously expressed concerns and indicated an strong interest in ensuring that subject matter experts be seated on the review panel and that the reports are kept confidential.

This bill was signed by the Governor and will go into effect on January 1, 2015.

AB 2213 (Eggman): LMFT and LPCC Out-of-State Applicant Requirements. The BBS Out-of-State Education Committee worked to create new out-of-state requirements that better accommodate license portability, while still maintaining consumer protection. The resulting proposal makes changes to the practicum requirements for out-of-state applicants, as well as allows them to remediate certain coursework through continuing education, instead of requiring all coursework to be from a graduate program.

This bill at the Governor’s desk.

SB 1466 - Omnibus Legislation: This bill makes minor, technical, and non-substantive amendments to add clarity and consistency to current licensing law.

This bill is at the Governor’s desk.

The Board discussed other bills of interest. It was noted that AB 186, a bill requiring a Board within DCA to issue a temporary license to an applicant who is a spouse of a military member stationed in California and who is already eligible for an expedited license, has been expanded to also make veterans eligible for expedited review. At its meeting on June 26, 2014, the Board took an “oppose unless amended” position on this legislation.

G. Association of Social Work Boards National Examination
California has the second largest number of social workers in the country. The Association of Social Work Boards is a 501(c)(3)organization of social work regulatory boards that provides support and services to the social work regulatory community to advance safe, competent, and ethical practices. California will be re-joining the Association in 2016 when LCSWs in California will be required to take the national exam.
The national exam is offered at 230 centers in North America. 36,000 exams were offered in 2013. The exam consists of 170, multiple-choice questions. The pass rate in 2013 was about 77%.

H. 2015 Board Meeting Dates
February 25-26, 2015, Sacramento, CA
April 23, 2015 Disciplinary Hearings, Sacramento, CA
May 20-21, 2015, Southern California
August 26-27, 2015, Sacramento, CA
October 22, 2015 Disciplinary Hearings, Sacramento
November 18-19, 2015, Southern California

I. Future Agenda
CAMFT, again, asked to for the Board to consider fees that interns must pay to maintain their registration number while waiting for their applications to be evaluated.