January 31, 2013

Legislative Update
The BBS is pursuing five (5) pieces of legislation.  To date, none of the bills have been introduced, though all have committed authors.   The legislative proposals include: LMFT and LCSW applicant remediation of spousal/partner abuse or alcoholism coursework;  Extension of effective date of new education requirements for out-of-state LMFT and LPCC applicants;  Clarification of law regarding eligibility for a retired license;  BBS access to child custody evaluator reports for purpose of investigating allegations against child custody evaluator for unprofessional conduct.  (Note:  CAMFT has expressed concerns about allowing the BBS full access to child custody evaluation reports given the avenues that are available to the BBS to get the report and the court process in place to address biased evaluators.)

In addition, the BBS has proposed an Omnibus bill that makes minor, technical, and non-substantive amendments to add clarity and consistency to current licensing law.   One of the proposed changes would add that the scope of practice for LPCCs and LCSWs includes the use, application, and integration of the coursework and experience required by law for licensure.   This would make it consistent with existing law for LMFTs.

Rulemaking Update
Several rulemaking packages have been submitted to Office of Administrative Law for final approval or for public comment period.   Of note are the enforcement regulations package, uniform standards for substance abuse, and requirements for LPCCs to treat couples/families.

Examination Restructure
The examination restructure authorized by SC 704 becomes effective on January 1, 2014.   The BBS needs to revise its regulations so it is  consistent with the examination process.   Proposed revisions include the change of sequence for licensing exams (CA law and ethics exam will need to be taken within the first year of registration with the Board;  Once a registrant has completed all supervised work experience, completed all educational requirements, and passed the law and ethics exam, he/she may take the clinical exam).  In addition, the regulations incorporate language allowing the BBS to accept the national examination for LCSW and LMFT licensure, if the examinations are determined to be appropriate by the BBS.  (The BBS previously voted to accept the Association of Social Work Boards exam and is currently working on a contract with the Association of Social Work Boards to offer its national exam for those seeking licensure with the BBS.  The BBS is also working with the Association of Marital and Family Therapy Regulatory Boards to determine the viability of using its exam for LMFT licensure in California.   The BBS already accepts the National Clinical Mental Health Counselor Examination as the designated exam for California LPCCs.)

Continuing Education
The BBS Continuing Education Provider Review Committee met several times in 2012 to discuss:  current scope of approval authority, review of coursework/content, expired provider approval, self-study vs. online learning, cite and fine of CE providers, CE credit for examination development, CE provider approval through an accrediting body, and continuing competency. 

The outcome of those meetings was presented to the Policy and Advocacy Committee.  The proposal states that continuing education credit could be obtained only from: designated BBS-recognized approval agencies, continuing education providers that have been approved by an approval agency,  BBS- recognized continuing education providers, or accredited or approved post-secondary institution that meets requirements set for in the Code. 

There was discussion about the definition of “self-study” and the rationale for limiting “self-study” to 18 hours per renewal cycle.   The Committee ultimately agreed that it would be more modern to allow licenses to obtain continuing education in the format that best suits that person.   The Committee will recommend that the term “self-study” and references to 18-hour limitation for self-study be removed from the regulations.   It was noted that this puts BBS licenses on the path of continuing competency instead of simply continuing education.   The BBS will recommend that licensees attend one live course, but this will not be required.

If approved by the full BBS Board in February, 2013, the regulation package will be formally submitted to the Office of Administrative Law.   The process could take up to one year and the proposed language will include a delayed implementation date to allow current continuing education providers authorized by the BBS to submit applications to an approval agency.