TITLE 22. EXAMINING BOARDS

PART 34. TEXAS STATE BOARD OF SOCIAL WORKER EXAMINERS

CHAPTER 781. SOCIAL WORKER LICENSURE

The Texas State Board of Social Worker Examiners (board) proposes amendments to §§781.102, 781.203, 781.204, 781.316, 781.404, 781.603, and new 781.223 concerning the licensure and regulation of social workers.

BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE

The proposed amendments to the rules eliminate the Advanced Practitioner specialty recognition, as the Association of Social Worker Boards (ASWB) will no longer offer the examination for the Advanced Practitioner recognition. The proposed amendments also modify what is required at the termination of the client relationship, clarify requirements for supervision towards licensure, and modify processes for complaints filed outside the board’s jurisdiction. The new section defines requirements for technology assisted services. These amendments and the new rule are intended to streamline complaint processing by giving the executive director greater discretion, allow for greater flexibility in supervision by allowing a greater use of technology based supervision while still maintaining confidentiality safeguards, and update the ethical obligations of social workers.

SECTION-BY-SECTION SUMMARY

This summary considers only those sections which were substantially changed in language, meaning, or intent.

The amendments to §781.102 and §781.316 will remove existing language relating to the Advanced Practitioner specialty recognition.

The amendment to §781.203 details more specific guidelines when a service provider terminates the client relationship and to facilitate the appropriate transfer of services.

The amendments to §781.204 detail more specific guidelines for social workers engaging in electronic practice, the location of the client receiving services, and defines the degree of consanguinity and affinity of familial relationships when restricting the borrowing or lending of money or items of value.

The amendments to §781.404 clarify the requirements that board-approved supervisors must follow when providing supervision. Specifically, the amendments allow licensees to receive group supervision exclusively or in combination with individual supervision, and if supervision occurs via audio, web technology, or other electronic supervision techniques, it must occur via HIPAA compliant electronic techniques.

The amendment to §781.603 modifies the process of complaints that clearly do not fall within the board’s jurisdiction.

New rule §781.223 will implement guidelines regarding the use of technology when providing social work services.

FISCAL NOTE

Alice Bradford, Executive Director, has determined that for each year of the first five years the proposed new section and amendments sections will be in effect, there will be no anticipated cost or saving, nor effect on revenue, to local government as a result of the proposed rule changes. There will be a minimal anticipated fiscal cost to state government as a result of lost revenue from no longer collecting fees for the Licensed Master Social Worker- Advanced Practitioner (LMSW-AP) from §718.316.

Since examination fees for the board are not paid to the state, examination fees for the Advanced Practitioner do not affect revenue for the board. Fees under current laws and rules for the board to which eliminating the specialty recognition would apply are as follows.

As set forth in 22 TAC §781.316(a)(6) - $20 for initial application and licensure fee for specialty recognition.

In addition, a $5 Office of Patient Protection (OPP) fee under Occupations Code §101.307 applies to initial social worker licensure applications. A $6 Texas.gov fee under Government Code, §2054.252 applies to initial social worker licensure applications.

In fiscal year 2016, the board received zero initial LMSW-AP applications, one upgrade application, and 153 renewal applications. Thus, an estimated loss of revenue per eligible LMSW-AP upgrade applicant can be expected to be $20, plus the OPP and Texas.gov surcharges. Based upon the current rate of new LMSW-AP applications per year, the department estimates a minimal fiscal loss to state government as a result of lost revenue. The board further used the average initial LMSW-AP application fee of $100, plus the applicable surcharges totaling an initial application rate of $111 as the base rate. These figures would result in an estimated $0 loss in revenue for year one; a $0 loss in revenue for year two; a $0 loss in revenue for year three; a $0 loss in revenue for year four; and an $0 loss in revenue for year five of the rules being in effect, for a total estimated loss of revenue for the Board of approximately $0. However, the board does not anticipate an impact to its ability to meet the costs of administering the program through existing revenue under the current fee structure, even with this loss of revenue due to the new fee waivers.

SMALL BUSINESS AND MICRO-BUSINESS, AND RURAL COMMUNITY IMPACT ANALYSIS

Ms. Bradford has determined there will be no adverse economic effect on small businesses, micro-businesses, or rural communities. This determination was made because the proposed amendments and new rule do not apply to small or micro-businesses or to rural communities.

ECONOMIC COSTS TO PERSONS AND IMPACT ON LOCAL EMPLOYMENT

There are no anticipated economic costs to persons who are required to comply with the sections as proposed.

There is no anticipated negative impact on local employment.

COSTS TO REGULATED PERSONS

Texas Government Code, §2001.0045 does not apply to these rules because the rules are necessary to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the residents of Texas and does not impose a cost on regulated persons.

REGULATORY ANALYSIS

The board has determined this proposal is not a "major environmental rule" as defined by Government Code §2001.0225. "Major environmental rule" is defined as "a rule the specific intent of which is to protect the environment or reduce risks to human health from environmental exposure and that may adversely affect in a material way the economy, a sector of the economy, productivity, competition, jobs, the environment, or the public health and safety of a state or a sector of the state." The proposal is not specifically intended to protect the environment or reduce risks to human health from environmental exposure.

TAKINGS IMPACT ASSESSMENT

The board has determined the proposal does not restrict or limit an owner’s right to his or her property that would otherwise exist in the absence of government action and, therefore, does not constitute a taking under Government Code §2007.043.

PUBLIC BENEFIT

In addition, Ms. Bradford has determined that for each year of the first five years the sections are in effect, the public will benefit from the adoption of the sections. The public benefit anticipated as a result of enforcing or administering the sections is to continue to ensure public health and safety through the licensing and regulation of social workers.

PUBLIC COMMENT

Comments on the proposal may be submitted to Alice Bradford, Executive Director, Texas State Board of Social Worker Examiners, Mail Code 1982, P.O. Box 149347, Austin, Texas 78714-9347, or by email to lsw@dshs.texas.gov. When emailing comments, please indicate "Comments on Proposed Rules" in the subject line. Comments will be accepted for 30 days following publication of the proposal in the Texas Register.

SUBCHAPTER A. GENERAL PROVISIONS

22 TAC §781.102

STATUTORY AUTHORITY

The amendments are proposed under Texas Occupations Code §505.201, which authorizes the board to adopt rules necessary for the performance of its duties.

The amendments affect Texas Occupations Code, Chapter 505.

§781.102.Definitions.

The following words and terms, when used in this chapter, shall have the following meanings, unless the context clearly indicates otherwise.

(1) - (45) (No change.)

(46) LMSW-AP--Licensed Master Social Worker with the Advanced Practitioner specialty recognition for non-clinical practice. This specialty recognition will no longer be conferred after September 1, 2017. Licensees under a board-approved supervision plan for this specialty recognition before September 1, 2017 will be permitted to complete supervision and examination for this specialty recognition.

(47) - (55) (No change.)

(56) Supervisor, board-approved--A person meeting the requirements set out in §781.402 of this title (relating to Clinical Supervision for LCSW and Non-Clinical Supervision for [LMSW-AP and] Independent Practice Recognition), to supervise a licensee towards the LCSW, [LMSW-AP or] Independent Practice Recognition, or as a result of a board order. A board-approved supervisor will denote having this specialty recognition by placing a "-S" after their credential initials, e.g., LBSW-S, LMSW-S or LCSW-S.

(57) Supervision--Supervision includes:

(A) - (D) (No change.)

[(E) non-clinical supervision of a Licensed Master Social Worker who is providing non-clinical social work service toward qualifications for the LMSW-AP; this supervision is delivered by a board-approved supervisor;]

(E) [(F)] supervision of a probationary Licensed Master Social Worker or Licensed Baccalaureate Social Worker providing non-clinical services by a board-approved supervisor toward licensure under the AMEC program;

(F) [(G)] board-ordered supervision of a licensee by a board-approved supervisor pursuant to a disciplinary order or as a condition of new or continued licensure.

(58) - (62) (No change.)

The agency certifies that legal counsel has reviewed the proposal and found it to be within the state agency's legal authority to adopt.

Filed with the Office of the Secretary of State on October 16, 2017.

TRD-201704149

Tim Brown

Chair

Texas State Board of Social Worker Examiners

Earliest possible date of adoption: November 26, 2017

For further information, please call: (512) 776-6972


SUBCHAPTER B. CODE OF CONDUCT AND PROFESSIONAL STANDARDS OF PRACTICE

22 TAC §§781.203, 781.204, 781.223

STATUTORY AUTHORITY

The amendments and new rule are proposed under Texas Occupations Code §505.201, which authorizes the board to adopt rules necessary for the performance of its duties.

The amendments and new rule affect Texas Occupations Code, Chapter 505.

§781.203.General Standards of Practice.

This section establishes standards of professional conduct required of a social worker. The licensee, following applicable statutes:

(1) (No change.)

(2) shall terminate a professional relationship when it is reasonably clear that the client is not benefiting from the relationship. If continued professional services are indicated, the licensee shall take reasonable steps to facilitate transferring the client by providing the client with the name and contact information of three sources of service [to an appropriate source of service];

(3) - (9) (No change.)

§781.204.Relationships with Clients.

(a) - (j) (No change.)

(k) Electronic practice may be used judiciously as part of the social work process and the supervision process. Social workers engaging in electronic practice, providing services to clients located in the State of Texas, must be licensed in Texas and adhere to provisions of this chapter.

(l) - (m) (No change.)

(n) The licensee or relatives to the fourth degree of consanguinity or affinity of the licensee may not borrow or lend money or items of value to clients or relatives to the fourth degree of consanguinity or affinity of clients.

(o) - (q) (No change.)

§781.223.Technology in Social Work Practice.

When social workers use technology to provide services, they are subject to all rules and statutes, including this chapter and Occupations Code, Chapter 505, as if providing face to face services.

The agency certifies that legal counsel has reviewed the proposal and found it to be within the state agency's legal authority to adopt.

Filed with the Office of the Secretary of State on October 16, 2017.

TRD-201704150

Tim Brown

Chair

Texas State Board of Social Worker Examiners

Earliest possible date of adoption: November 26, 2017

For further information, please call: (512) 776-6972


SUBCHAPTER C. THE BOARD

22 TAC §781.316

STATUTORY AUTHORITY

The amendments are proposed under Texas Occupations Code §505.201, which authorizes the board to adopt rules necessary for the performance of its duties.

The amendments affect Texas Occupations Code, Chapter 505.

§781.316.Fees.

(a) The following are the board's fees:

(1) - (5) (No change.)

(6) additional license fee for [AP or] Independent Practice specialty recognition--$20 biennially;

(7) - (21) (No change.)

(b) - (c) (No change.)

The agency certifies that legal counsel has reviewed the proposal and found it to be within the state agency's legal authority to adopt.

Filed with the Office of the Secretary of State on October 16, 2017.

TRD-201704156

Tim Brown

Chair

Texas State Board of Social Worker Examiners

Earliest possible date of adoption: November 26, 2017

For further information, please call: (512) 776-6972


SUBCHAPTER D. LICENSES AND LICENSING PROCESS

22 TAC §781.404

STATUTORY AUTHORITY

The amendments are proposed under Texas Occupations Code §505.201, which authorizes the board to adopt rules necessary for the performance of its duties.

The amendments affect Texas Occupations Code, Chapter 505.

§781.404.Recognition as a Board-approved Supervisor and the Supervision Process.

(a) (No change.)

(b) A person who wishes to be a board-approved supervisor must file an application and pay the applicable fees as describedin §781.316 of this chapter.

(1) - (2) (No change.)

(3) The board-approved supervisor must have completed a supervisor's training program accredited by [acceptable to] the board.

(4) - (11) (No change.)

(12) A board-approved supervisor who wishes to provide supervision towards licensure as an LCSW or towards specialty recognition in Independent Practice (IPR) or Advanced Practitioner (LMSW-AP), which is supervision for professional growth, must comply with the following.

(A) Supervision toward licensure or specialty recognition may occur in one-on-one sessions, in group sessions, or in a combination of one-on-one and group sessions. Session may transpire in the same geographic location, or via audio, web technology or other electronic supervision techniques that comply with HIPAA and Texas Health and Safety Code, Chapter 611, and/or other applicable state or federal statutes or rules.

[(A) Supervision toward licensure or specialty recognition may occur in one-on-one sessions; in a combination of individual and group sessions; or in board-approved combinations of supervision in the same geographical location, supervision via audio and visual web technology, and other electronic supervision techniques.]

(B) - (H) (No change.)

(13) (No change.)

(c) (No change.)

The agency certifies that legal counsel has reviewed the proposal and found it to be within the state agency's legal authority to adopt.

Filed with the Office of the Secretary of State on October 16, 2017.

TRD-201704151

Tim Brown

Chair

Texas State Board of Social Worker Examiners

Earliest possible date of adoption: November 26, 2017

For further information, please call: (512) 776-6972


SUBCHAPTER F. COMPLAINTS AND VIOLATIONS

22 TAC §781.603

STATUTORY AUTHORITY

The amendments are proposed under Texas Occupations Code §505.201, which authorizes the board to adopt rules necessary for the performance of its duties.

The amendments affect Texas Occupations Code, Chapter 505.

§781.603.Complaint Procedures.

(a) - (g) (No change.)

(h) If the allegations clearly do not fall within the board's jurisdiction, the executive director will [may] consult with [both] the attorney for the board and the lead investigator; [as well as the board chair or his/her designee, and] if all agree, the executive director [may close the complaint and] will present the case(s) [case] to the Ethics Committee at the committee's next meeting for closure. The Ethics Committee retains the right to request full disclosure of any case closed and order a comprehensive hearing of the complaint.

(i) - (s) (No change.)

The agency certifies that legal counsel has reviewed the proposal and found it to be within the state agency's legal authority to adopt.

Filed with the Office of the Secretary of State on October 16, 2017.

TRD-201704152

Tim Brown

Chair

Texas State Board of Social Worker Examiners

Earliest possible date of adoption: November 26, 2017

For further information, please call: (512) 776-6972