November 19, 2014

Jill Epstein, JD
Executive Director


 

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A. Budget
The 2014/2015 budget for the Board is $9,139,000. As of September 30, 2014, the Board has spent $2,108,156, reflecting 23% of the total budget.

A $1 million dollar loan repayment is scheduled for fiscal year 2014-2015. Once this repayment is received the outstanding loan balance to the General Fund will be $9.9 million dollars.

B. Operations/Personnel
Through the work of four full time staff members, the LMFT unit reduced its backlog from nearly 9 months to 4.5 months since May 19, 2014. As of November 10, staff was processing MFT exam evaluation applications from June 25, 2014. The BBS goal is still get the MFT exam evaluation processing time to 90 days by the end of the year and down to 30 days by the end of the fiscal year (June). A Management Services Technician (MST) was hired to assist the licensing unit processing applications for the Marriage and Family Therapists and Licensed Clinical Social Work examination eligibility. This is a limited, 2-year position and CAMFT raised concern about backlogs developing again in two years. The BBS noted that they will be tracking statistics to demonstrate “ongoing need” to make the limited, 2-year positions permanent. If the “bucket” legislation (see below) ultimately passes, staff evaluators can be cross-trained so staff can evaluate any exam application.

A 2013-2014 year end summary was provided. The Board of Behavioral Sciences, with a staff of 55, marked its 69th year providing regulatory oversight to Licensed Clinical Social Workers, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists, Licensed Educational Psychologists, Licensed Professional Clinical Counselors, and Continuing Education Providers. The Board licensing population increased 19% (16,022 licensees and registrants) since last fiscal year (2012/2013). The fiscal year ended with 15908 MFT Interns and 29908 LMFTs. 2708 MFT Standard Written exams and 1916 MFT Clinical Vignette exams were administered in the 2013-2014 year.

The November 8, 2014 release of BrEZe now allows registrants and licensees to renew online and check a school’s pass rate report. 150 people renewed online in the first week. The availability of the online renewal will be posted on the BBS website and via an email blast and the BBS asked CAMFT and others to promote this feature to members. BBS will continue to issue paper notifications and will continue processing paper renewals. (It was noted that licensees must have a birth date and Social Security number registered with BBS in order to access this online feature. The BBS can help licensees remediate this to use the online system. Registrants will need to mark “active” on the renewal form.) CAMFT asked that the BBS modify the website to better direct licensees and registrants to the online tutorial and to the online renewal links.

C. Strategic Plan Update
CAMFT noted that the Board met with Office of Professional Examination Standards (OPES) in November to discuss subject matter expert requirements, per the Strategic Plan goal 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. The BBS agreed that there needs to be an adequate number of evaluators in this area (possibly 5-8) who have requisite knowledge and expertise.

D. Discussion and Possible Action Regarding Changes to Current Supervised Work Experience Requirements for LCSW, LMFT and LPCC
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 has met four times 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”. Because of the known impacts that current requirements are having on applicants, the Committee asked staff to prepare a draft proposal pertaining only to the hours of experience and associated categories to take to the Board for consideration as possible Board-sponsored legislation in 2015. The Supervision Committee will continue to meet to review other topics pertaining to supervision, such as supervisor qualifications and responsibilities.

The Board then discussed the proposal, which includes the following changes to the current LMFT requirements to help streamline the process:

Removes all categories (“buckets”) except for the following:

Minimum of 1,750 hours of Direct Counseling with Individuals, Groups, Couples or Families (58% of the total 3,000 hours)
Maximum of 1,250 hours of Non-Clinical Experience (42% of the total hours). May be gained performing any combination of the following activities:

Direct Supervisor Contact
Administering and Evaluating Psychological Tests
Writing Clinical Reports
Writing Progress or Process Notes
Client-Centered Advocacy
Workshops, Seminars, Training, Conferences

Changes for LMFT applicants only:
• Keeps the limitation on Trainees obtaining a maximum of 750 hours of “Direct Counseling and Direct Supervisor Contact.”

• Removes the incentive for double-counting hours performed providing conjoint treatment of couples or families toward the total hours required in the category of “Diagnosing and Treating Couples, Families or Children.”

• No longer allows personal psychotherapy obtained by the applicant to count towards supervised experience. (It was noted that this would need to be communicated to registrants and educators immediately. It was also noted that educators should require or encourage students to get psychotherapy for their personal and professional development.)

If this becomes a bill in 2015, it would take effect January 1, 2016 and would change how experience is evaluated immediately. Although the requirements are not changing in a way that would impact most applicants’ ability to qualify, a phase-in is necessary. The language includes a grace period that would ensure that no applicant is disenfranchised by the change in requirements by needing to earn additional hours. Specifically, an individual who submits an application for examination eligibility between January 1, 2016 and December 31, 2017, may alternatively qualify under the experience requirements that were in place on January 1, 2015. The BBS make a new form available for registrants to track hours if this bill passes.

CAMFT strongly supports this proposed legislation and encouraged the Board to review other supervision issues going forward.

The Board voted to direct staff to pursue this legislative proposal.

E. Legislation
Proposed 2015 Omnibus Bill

Each year, the Board sponsors an omnibus bill, which makes minor, technical, or noncontroversial changes to Board licensing laws. These changes must be unopposed, and are meant to correct such things as spelling/grammar errors, or inconsistent or confusing language.

Included in the changes are proposed amendments to update the Board’s licensing law to remove references to the Board “approving” continuing education providers since, under the new continuing education regulations, the Board will no longer be approving CE providers.
The Board voted to direct staff to pursue the proposed 2015 Omnibus bill and changes to the references to CE providers in other regulations.

Proposed Enforcement Legislation
Business and Professions Code (BPC) Section 4990.30 sets the process by which a Board licensee or registrant may petition for reinstatement or modification of penalty if his or her license or registration has been revoked, suspended, or placed on probation. As the Board’s licensing population increases, the Board’s Enforcement Unit is receiving an increasing number of requests to petition for termination of probation or modify penalty from licensees and registrants who are not in compliance with the terms of their probation. These requests utilize the valuable time and resources of staff, attorneys, and Board members, even though they will ultimately be rejected for noncompliance.

The proposed amendments outline criteria under which the Board may deny a request to petition to terminate probation or modify penalty, including: the petitioner has failed to comply with the terms/conditions of the disciplinary order; there is an ongoing investigation of the petitioner; the petitioner has a subsequent arrest or conviction while on probation; and/or the petitioner’s probation is currently tolled.

In addition, the Board discussed proposed amendments to allow the Board to take disciplinary action on its licensees and registrants regardless of the status of a license or registration. These amendments would clarify that the Board has jurisdiction to investigate and/or take disciplinary action even if the status of a license or registration changes or the license or registration expires. This would address retired and inactive licenses and avoid the situation where the Board cannot proceed with any disciplinary action once a registrant needs a new registration number (after six years).

The Board voted to direct staff to pursue the amendments.

AB 1629
This bill makes costs incurred for certain services provided by violence peer counselors reimbursable to crime victims through the California Victim Compensation Board. It was signed into law by the Governor in late September, and becomes effective on January 1, 2015.

This bill was amended late in the legislative session, to require a violence peer counselor eligible for reimbursable services to be supervised by a Board licensee. The Board had several concerns about this language; including that it does not make clear that a violence peer counselor may not practice psychotherapy in a private practice unless licensed. At its August 28, 2014 meeting, the Board took an “oppose unless amended” position on this bill.

The author’s office has committed to making clarifying amendments in the next legislative session. Currently, they are working with Legislative Counsel to draft language that would clarify that any services falling under the scope of practice of the Board’s licensing acts must be performed by a licensee or registrant of the Board. Staff is planning to bring this draft language to the January 2015 Policy and Advocacy Committee meeting for further discussion.

The Board could require that this change be considered as an “urgency measure”.

F. Rulemaking Update
Exam Re-Structure

The proposal has been submitted to OAL and will be published in its California Regulatory Notice Register on November 14, 2014. The public hearing for this proposal will be held on December 29, 2014.

Uniform Standards for Discipline of Substance Abusing Licensees
The public comment period has ended, and the proposal has been submitted to DCA and the State and Consumer Services Agency (SCSA) for review. Once approved by these entities, staff will submit it to OAL for final approval.

Continuing Education
The Continuing Education regulations were approved by the Office of Administrative Law (OAL) and filed with the Secretary of State on September 16, 2014.

LPCC Treatment of Couples and Families
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.

G. Consideration of Additional Board-recognized Approval Agencies
The new Continuing Education regulations allow the Board to delegate the authority to approve CE providers to “board-recognized approval agencies” that have expertise and have established stringent requirements for approving CE providers. The regulations allow the Board to recognize entities as approval agencies if they can demonstrate that they meet certain criteria. CAMFT and the California Psychological Association (CPA) have applied.

CAMFT presented an overview of their program infrastructure and program details.

The Board voted to approve CAMFT as an additional Board-recognized approval agency, with approvals effective July 1, 2015.

The Board reviewed the CPA application. The Board had questions and tabled further discussion until CPA is available to present in person to provide additional information.

H. Standing Board Committees
The Board discussed establishing Standing Board Committees (in addition to the Policy and Advocacy Committee) that align with strategic goals instead of establishing Ad Hoc Committees to address specific topics. While the Policy and Advocacy Committee covers Legislation and Regulation, other strategic goals that could align with Standing Board Committees would be: Licensing, Examination, Enforcement and Organizational Effectiveness.

Staff will bring back proposals in February, 2015.

I. Future Agenda
Board members suggested an agenda item on policies and procedures regarding citations and fines. AAMFT-CA asked for guidance on what amounts to inappropriate sharing of exam content.

J. Change in Meeting Dates
The Board meeting for August, 2015 was moved to August 27-28 and the Board meeting for November, 2015 was moved to November 19-20

K. Adjourn
The meeting adjourned at 2:50 p.m.