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 §§781.402, 781.405, and 781.413, and repeal and new of §§781.505, 781.509, and 781.603, concerning the licensure and regulation of social workers.

BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE

The proposed amendments to the rules eliminate the Advanced Practitioner specialty recognition and clarifies requirements for supervision towards licensure, modify the board processing times for applications, and provide a more detailed timeline for participants in the Alternate Method of Examining Competency program. The new rules modify requirements regarding inactive status, continuing education, and the process for complaints, aligned to recommendations set forth by the Sunset Advisory Commission.

SECTION-BY-SECTION SUMMARY

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

The amendments to §781.402 will provide specific requirements regarding Licensed Master Social Workers practicing towards Licensed Clinical Social Worker requirements, and remove existing language relating to the Advanced Practitioner specialty recognition.

The amendments to §781.405 modifies processing times for applications from 15 working days to 30 working days.

The amendments to §781.413 detail more specific guidelines for participants in the Alternative Method of Examining Competency program.

Section 781.505 is a repeal and new rule and discusses how a licensee can place an active license on inactive status, the requirements when a license is inactive and the requirements to return an inactive license to active status.

Section 781.509 is a repeal and new rule and simplifies the requirements for acceptable continuing education for the purposes of license renewal or satisfaction of disciplinary stipulations.

Section 781.603 is a repeal and new rule to clarify and simplify the complaints process. New subsection (a) discusses the eligibility of a complaint and specifies that it must be on a form prescribed by the board. New subsection (b) discusses allegations not involving violations of §781.205 of this title, concerning sexual misconduct, must be filed within five years of the date of termination of professional services or within five years of a minor client's 18th birthday, whichever is later. New subsection (c) discusses that upon receipt of an eligible complaint, an acknowledgement of receipt will be sent to the complainant. New subsection (d) discusses the review of a complaint by the review team whose members are designated in board policy to determine if the board has jurisdiction over the complaint and to determine the nature of the allegations. New subsection (e) discusses that a notice of an investigation will be sent by staff in writing to the licensee's address of record at the time of the mailing. New subsection (f) states board staff will draft a report to include a recommendation as to whether the investigation has produced sufficient evidence of a violation. New subsection (g) discusses the review of a complaint by the review team and counsel for the board to determine the sufficiency of the evidence. New subsection (h) states that at each board meeting, board staff will provide the board with a list of complaints dismissed for lack of jurisdiction or lack of violation since the previous meeting of the board.

FISCAL NOTE

Alice Bradford, Executive Director, has determined that for each year of the first five years that the rules will be in effect, enforcing or administering the rules does not have foreseeable implications relating to costs or revenues of state or local governments.

GOVERNMENT GROWTH IMPACT STATEMENT

As required by Texas Government Code, Chapter 2001, §2001.0221 relating to government growth impact statements, board staff has determined that during the first five years these provisions would be in effect: the proposed rules neither creates or nor eliminates a government program; implementation of the proposed rules requires neither the creation of new employee positions nor the elimination of existing employee positions; implementation of the proposed rules requires neither an increase nor decrease in future legislative appropriations to the agency; the proposed rules will not increase or decrease any other fees paid to the agency; the proposed rules do not create a new regulation; the proposed rules neither expands, limits, nor repeals an existing regulation; the proposed rules neither increases nor decreases the number of individuals subject to the rule's applicability; and the proposed rules neither positively nor adversely affects this state's economy.

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

Alice Bradford, Executive Director, has also determined that there will be no adverse economic effect on small businesses, micro-businesses, or rural communities required to comply with the sections as proposed. This was determined by interpretation of the rules that small businesses, micro-businesses or rural communities will not be required to alter their business practices in order to comply with the sections. The rules do not impose any additional costs on small businesses, micro-businesses, or rural communities that are required to comply with the rules.

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. The proposal will not affect a local economy. 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.

PUBLIC BENEFIT

In addition, Alice Bradford, Executive Director, has also determined that for each year of the first five years the sections are in effect, the public will benefit from 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 effective licensing and regulation of social workers. Finally, the restructuring of many of the rules should improve comprehension and clarity in the rules.

REGULATORY ANALYSIS

The board has determined that this proposal is not a "major environmental rule" as defined by Texas Government Code, §2001.0225. "Major environmental rule" is defined to mean "a rule, the specific intent to protect the environment or reduce risk 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 that 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 Texas Government Code, §2007.043.

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@hhsc.state.tx.us. 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 D. LICENSES AND LICENSING PROCESS

22 TAC §§781.402, 781.405, 781.413

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 will implement Texas Occupations Code, Chapter 505.

§781.402.Clinical Supervision for LCSW and Non-Clinical Supervision for [LMSW-AP and] Independent Practice Recognition.

(a) - (b) (No change).

(c) An LMSW who plans to apply for the LCSW may not open an independent social work practice to provide clinical social work to clients.

[(c) An LMSW who plans to apply for the advanced practitioner specialty recognition must:]

[(1) submit one non-clinical supervisory plan for each location of practice to the board for approval by the board or executive director/designee within 30 days of initiating supervision;]

[(2) submit a current job description from the agency in which the social worker is employed with a verification of authenticity from the agency director or his or her designee on agency letterhead. In order for a plan to be approved, the position description must demonstrate that the duties of the position are social work;]

[(3) submit a separate supervision verification form for each practice location to the board for approval within 30 days of the end of each supervisory plan with each supervisor. If the supervisor does not recommend that the supervisee is eligible to examine for advanced practice specialty recognition, the supervisor must indicate such on the non-clinical supervision verification form and provide specific reasons for not recommending the supervisee. The board may consider the supervisor's reservations as it evaluates the supervision verification that the supervisee submits;]

[(4) submit a new supervisory plan within 30 days of changing supervisors or practice location; and]

[(5) upon completing and submitting documentation of the required non-clinical supervision, the LMSW must apply for the advanced practitioner specialty recognition.]

(d) - (f) (No change).

§781.405.Application for Licensure.

(a) - (b) (No Change.)

(c) The department will acknowledge in writing receiving the application and fee within 30 [15] working days of receipt. The letter will include the requested licensing or specialty recognition category; any documented deficiencies in qualifications; and any additional documentation, such as transcripts or supervisory references, required for the examination approval.

(d) The board will mail a letter approving the applicant to sit for the examination within 30 [15] working days after the board office receives all required documentation.

(e) - (i) (No change).

§781.413.Alternate Method of Examining Competency (AMEC) Program.

(a) - (d) (No change).

(e) If the participant is deficient 45 days or more from the due date provided by the department in submitting the professional portfolio and other requirements, the participant is in default of the AMEC program, the documents will not be accepted toward completion of the AMEC program and the participant will be removed from the AMEC program.

(f) If a participant is removed from the AMEC program, the participant must meet the requirements in subsection (a) of this section before the board will consider readmitting the applicant into the AMEC program.

(g) If a participant fails to comply with the requirements of the AMEC program, or is removed from the AMEC program, the participant must wait one year before the board will consider readmitting the applicant in to the AMEC program.

(h) [(e)] The participant must complete the AMEC program in no less than 12 and no more than 24 consecutive calendar months from the date of the board's agreed order unless the board gives prior approval.

(i) [(f)] An AMEC participant remains under the supervision of a board-approved supervisor until the board has reviewed the required documents and issued a final order regarding the board's issuance of a regular license. The board may require continued supervision reports.

(j) [(g)] The board may grant a regular license to an applicant who successfully completes the AMEC participation terms.

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 January 18, 2019.

TRD-201900156

Timothy Martel Brown, LCSW

Chair

Texas State Board of Social Worker Examiners

Earliest possible date of adoption: March 3, 2019

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


SUBCHAPTER E. LICENSE RENEWAL AND CONTINUING EDUCATION

22 TAC §781.505, §781.509

STATUTORY AUTHORITY

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

The repeals will implement Texas Occupations Code, Chapter 505.

§781.505.Inactive Status.

§781.509.Types of Acceptable Continuing Education.

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 January 18, 2019.

TRD-201900159

Timothy Martel Brown, LCSW

Chair

Texas State Board of Social Worker Examiners

Earliest possible date of adoption: March 3, 2019

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


22 TAC §781.505, §781.509

STATUTORY AUTHORITY

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

The new rules will implement Texas Occupations Code, Chapter 505.

§781.505.Inactive Status.

(a) A licensee may request his or her active license be placed on inactive status by submitting to the board the designated form and fee.

(b) A licensee cannot practice while the license is inactive.

(c) Board-approved supervisory authority is relinquished upon moving the license to inactive status.

(d) Inactive licenses remain subject to disciplinary action by the board.

(e) No continuing education is required while a license is inactive.

(f) To return an inactive license to active status the licensee must submit:

(1) a reactivation form designated by the board;

(2) a reactivation fee as set forth in this chapter;

(3) proof of completion of jurisprudence exam, no more than six months prior to submitting a request for inactive status; and

(4) proof of completion of continuing education for the licensee's current two-year renewal period.

(g) Neither continuing education nor fees will be prorated.

(h) To regain board-approved supervisory authority the licensee must reapply meeting all current requirements.

§781.509.Types of Acceptable Continuing Education.

To be acceptable for the purposes of license renewal or satisfaction of disciplinary stipulations the education must be received from a continuing education provider that:

(1) ensures that the education provided is directly related to the practice of social work;

(2) ensures that the individual(s) presenting the information have the necessary experience and knowledge in the topic(s) presented;

(3) verifies attendance of participants and provides participants with a letter, certificate, or transcript that displays the licensee's name, topic covered, date(s) or academic period course was taken, and the number of hours of credit earned;

(4) provides participants with a mechanism for evaluation of each continuing education activity; and

(5) maintains all continuing education records and documentation for at least three years.

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 January 18, 2019.

TRD-201900160

Timothy Martel Brown, LCSW

Chair

Texas State Board of Social Worker Examiners

Earliest possible date of adoption: March 3, 2019

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


SUBCHAPTER F. COMPLAINTS AND VIOLATIONS

22 TAC §781.603

STATUTORY AUTHORITY

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

The repeal will implement Texas Occupations Code, Chapter 505.

§781.603.Complaint Procedures.

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 January 18, 2019.

TRD-201900161

Timothy Martel Brown, LCSW

Chair

Texas State Board of Social Worker Examiners

Earliest possible date of adoption: March 3, 2019

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


22 TAC §781.603

STATUTORY AUTHORITY

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

The new rule will implement Texas Occupations Code, Chapter 505.

§781.603.Complaint Procedures.

(a) To be an eligible complaint for board action, a complaint must be submitted to the board office on a form prescribed by the board.

(b) Allegations not involving violations of §781.205 of this title (relating to Sexual Misconduct) must be filed within five years of the date of termination of professional services or within five years of a minor client's 18th birthday, whichever is later.

(c) Upon receipt of an eligible complaint, the department will send acknowledgement to the complainant.

(d) Eligible complaints shall be reviewed by the review team whose members are designated in board policy to determine if the board has jurisdiction over the complaint and to determine the nature of the allegations.

(1) Complaints outside of the jurisdiction of the board will be dismissed.

(2) Jurisdictional complaints will be reviewed by the review team to determine if the complaint states an allegation, which, if true, constitutes a violation of the Act or board rules in this chapter.

(A) Complaints that do not state a violation of the Act or board rules of this chapter will be dismissed.

(B) Complaints that state a violation of the Act or board rules of this chapter will be investigated by the department.

(3) Complaints under the jurisdiction of another agency will be referred to that agency.

(e) Licensees will receive notice of an investigation in writing. Notice to a licensee is effective and service is complete when sent by certified or registered mail to the licensee's address of record at the time of the mailing.

(f) Following completion of the investigation, board staff will draft a report. This report will include a recommendation as to whether the investigation has produced sufficient evidence to establish by a preponderance of the evidence there was a violation of the Act or board rules in this chapter.

(g) The review team and counsel for the board will review the complaint's case file, including the investigation report and all evidence, to determine if there is sufficient evidence to demonstrate by a preponderance of the evidence a violation of the Act or board rules of this chapter occurred.

(1) A complaint for which the team and counsel determines the preponderance of the evidence indicates a violation of the Act or board rules of this chapter occurred will result in the department issuing a Notice of Violation to the respondent proposing disciplinary action based on the penalty matrix set by board policy and will be given an opportunity to request an Informal Settlement Conference.

(2) A complaint for which the review team determines the preponderance of evidence indicates a violation of the Act or board rules of this chapter did not occur shall be dismissed.

(h) At each board meeting, board staff shall provide the board with a list of complaints dismissed for lack of jurisdiction or lack of violation since the previous meeting of the board.

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 January 18, 2019.

TRD-201900162

Timothy Martel Brown, LCSW

Chair

Texas State Board of Social Worker Examiners

Earliest possible date of adoption: March 3, 2019

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