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) adopts amendments to §§781.402, 781.405, 781.413, and the repeal of and new §781.603, concerning the licensing and regulation of social workers. The amendments to §§781.402, 781.405, 781.413, and the repeal of and new §781.603 are adopted without changes to the proposed text as published in the February 1, 2019, issue of the Texas Register (44 TexReg 465). Therefore, these sections will not be republished.

The proposed repeal of and new §781.505 and §781.509, published in the February 1, 2019, issue of the Texas Register, are withdrawn and do not appear in this rulemaking.

BACKGROUND AND JUSTIFICATION

The amendments to the rules eliminate the Advanced Practitioner specialty recognition and clarify 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 the process for complaints, aligned to recommendations set forth by the Sunset Advisory Commission.

COMMENTS

The 30-day comment period ended March 3, 2019.

During this period, the board received comments regarding the proposed rules from one association, the National Association of Social Workers-Texas Chapter. A summary of comments relating to the rules and the board's responses follows.

§781.205

Comment: A commenter proposes a comment relating to sexual misconduct, and states that the rule continues to put providers in the position of maintaining records well past the time required and recommended by liability experts. "Older complaints are extremely hard to prove and leave providers open to false allegations. If there is a legal conviction, wouldn't the board take action based on the conviction? Having a shorter time limit would encourage clients to report and would provide more timely protection to the public."

Response: The board appreciates the comment but cannot make a change at this time because this rule is not included in this rulemaking. The current record retention policies are necessary to protect the citizens of Texas.

§781.402

Comment: A commenter supports the changes.

Response: The board appreciates the supportive comment.

§781.405

Comment: A commenter did not support the change because it prolongs the processing of paperwork which is a critical factor in the issues surrounding board effectiveness. The commenter was not in favor of extending paperwork acknowledgement times.

Response: The board appreciates the comment but declines to keep the current fifteen working day requirement. The board's current goal is to process an application within two weeks, but it is not always practical to respond within fifteen days. A thirty-working day period response time is more reasonable.

§781.413

Comment: A commenter supports the changes.

Response: The board appreciates the supportive comment.

§781.505

Comment: A commenter supports the changes.

Response: The board appreciates the supportive comment, but the board withdraws the proposed rule for further discussion of the proposed rule.

§781.509

Comment: A commenter supports the changes.

Response: The board appreciates the supportive comment, but the board withdraws the proposed rule for further discussion of the proposed rule.

§781.603

Comment: A commenter supports the changes.

Response: The board appreciates the supportive comment.

SUBCHAPTER D. LICENSES AND LICENSING PROCESS

22 TAC §§781.402, 781.405, 781.413

STATUTORY AUTHORITY

The amendments are adopted under the following sections of the Texas Occupations Code, which authorize the board to adopt rules: §505.201, to establish the board's procedures; and §505.204, to standardize information concerning complaints made to the board; and §505.356, to establish rules regarding alternative methods of examining competency.

The agency certifies that legal counsel has reviewed the adoption and found it to be a valid exercise of the agency's legal authority.

Filed with the Office of the Secretary of State on May 6, 2019.

TRD-201901323

Timothy Martel Brown, LCSW

Chair

Texas State Board of Social Worker Examiners

Effective date: May 26, 2019

Proposal publication date: February 1, 2019

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


SUBCHAPTER F. COMPLAINTS AND VIOLATIONS

22 TAC §781.603

STATUTORY AUTHORITY

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

The agency certifies that legal counsel has reviewed the adoption and found it to be a valid exercise of the agency's legal authority.

Filed with the Office of the Secretary of State on May 6, 2019.

TRD-201901325

Timothy Martel Brown, LCSW

Chair

Texas State Board of Social Worker Examiners

Effective date: May 26, 2019

Proposal publication date: February 1, 2019

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


22 TAC §781.603

STATUTORY AUTHORITY

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

The agency certifies that legal counsel has reviewed the adoption and found it to be a valid exercise of the agency's legal authority.

Filed with the Office of the Secretary of State on May 6, 2019.

TRD-201901326

Timothy Martel Brown, LCSW

Chair

Texas State Board of Social Worker Examiners

Effective date: May 26, 2019

Proposal publication date: February 1, 2019

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


PART 35. TEXAS STATE BOARD OF EXAMINERS OF MARRIAGE AND FAMILY THERAPISTS

CHAPTER 801. LICENSURE AND REGULATION OF MARRIAGE AND FAMILY THERAPISTS

On January 26, 2019, the Texas State Board of Examiners of Marriage and Family Therapists (board) deferred action on the proposed amendments to §801.18, §801.262, and §801.268; new §801.263, §801.264 and §801.266; and the repeal of §§801.263 - 801.267 to allow further consideration of Sunset Advisory Commission recommendations and public comment.

The board adopts amendments to §801.18, §801.262, and §801.268; new §801.263, §801.264, and §801.266; and the repeal of §§801.263 - 801.267 concerning continuing education in regard to the licensing and regulation of marriage and family therapists.

New §801.263 and §801.264 and the amendment to §801.268 are adopted with changes to the proposed text as published in the December 14, 2018, issue of the Texas Register (43 TexReg 8006). These rules will be republished. Previously the board organized supervisors' renewal requirements under §801.143, which became effective on March 7, 2019, published in the March 1, 2019, issue of the Texas Register (44 TexReg 1131). The board removes redundant language regarding supervisors' renewal requirements from §801.263(d). The amendments to §801.18 and §801.262; new §801.266; and the repeal of §§801.263 - 801.267 are adopted without changes. Therefore, these sections will not be republished.

BACKGROUND AND JUSTIFICATION

Texas Government Code, §2001.039, requires that each state agency review and consider for readoption each rule adopted by that agency. All sections of Chapter 801 have been reviewed, and the board has determined that the reasons for adopting the sections continue to exist in that rules concerning the licensing and regulation of marriage and family therapists are still needed. However, changes are needed as described in this preamble and are the result of the comprehensive rule review undertaken by the board and the board's staff.

In general, each section was reviewed and proposed for readoption in order to ensure appropriate subchapter, section, and paragraph organization; to ensure clarity; to improve spelling, grammar, and punctuation; to ensure the rules reflect current legal and policy considerations; to ensure accuracy of legal citations; to eliminate unnecessary catch-titles; to delete repetitive, obsolete, unenforceable, or unnecessary language; to improve draftsmanship; and to make the rules more accessible, understandable, and usable.

COMMENTS

The 30-day comment period ended January 14, 2019.

During this period, the board received comments regarding the proposed rules from five individuals and two associations, including Texas Counseling Association (TCA), and Texas Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (TAMFT). A summary of comments relating to the rules and the board's responses follows.

Comment: Regarding proposed rule §801.18(a)(9), concerning repeal of the $50 annual continuing education sponsor fee, two individual commenters oppose this action. One individual commenter questions why the board wants to remove this income source, how the board will handle complaints against continuing education providers (CEPRs), how the board will ensure CEPRs adhere to minimum requirements, wonders if the board's proposed repeal is in response to a board member who forgot to renew his or her CEPR approval, and opines a CEPR "free for all" does not protect licensees.

Response: The board disagrees. After a lengthy discussion, the board has determined the language is sufficient to ensure ample and quality continuing education is available for its licensees. The fees collected are not a significant source of income for the state.

The second individual commenter states most professions require a minimum registration standard with fee for CEPRs because this "automatically separate{s} the 'wheat from the chaff'"; "mandates...minimum quality control and accountability to both the CE provider and...licensees"; and "provide{s} additional revenue stream." The second commenter opines a number of possible adverse effects if the fee is repealed, reports "the LPC Board agreed to revisit this issue," and reminds the board of its responsibility to protect the public.

Response: The board agrees there is a responsibility of the board to protect the public. The board does not agree that these amendments will have an adverse impact on the public. The fees collected are not a significant source of income for the state.

Comment: Regarding proposed rules in Subchapter K (§§801.262 - 801.268), concerning Continuing Education Requirements, TCA opposes the proposed modifications to Subchapter K and is very concerned the proposed changes "will not protect the public, will limit the Board's ability to ensure some measure of quality in continuing education, and will not necessarily reduce the time to assess the qualifications of CE providers." TCA recommends the board "reinstate the requirement that a percentage of CE hours be earned in face-to-face settings." TCA reports "The Texas State Board of Examiners of Psychologists rules require that at least half of the required CE hours be delivered by designated entities" and opines "This model insures a reasonably high quality of CE providers while reducing the amount of staff time spent on oversight."

Similarly, TAMFT notes "tremendous...concern...over the language for Continuing Education" and "respectfully ask{s} the...Board to reconsider...oversight for CEU {continuing education unit} credits." TAMFT reports "Many of our members have gone to great lengths to make sure the CEU's they provide offer the upmost in quality education to further enhance MFT's field of study. Changing these requirements have the risk of our licensees ultimately being delivered a product that is inferior."

In addition, two individual commenters oppose changes to continuing education processes (collecting CEPR renewal forms and fees, maintaining a registration of approved CEPRs, assuring presenters are duly credentialed, ensure CEPRs adhere to the minimum requirements, reviewing complaints against CEPRs). One of the commenters notes "concern...the board will no longer monitor CEU providers" and "fear{s} this...will decrease the quality of training and the ongoing competency of marriage and family therapists."

Response: After a lengthy discussion, the board has determined the language is sufficient to ensure ample and quality continuing education is available for its licensees. The fees collected are not a significant source of income for the state.

Comment: Regarding proposed rule §801.263(a) and (b), requiring an LMFT to complete 30 clock hours of continuing education (CE) each renewal period and an LMFT Associate to complete 15 clock hours each renewal period, TCA recommends reinstatement of "the requirement that a percentage of CE hours be earned in face-to-face settings" (referring to the proposed repeal of §801.264(1)(E) which limited courses "in which real-time interaction with a facilitator(s) is not possible" to "no more than 12 hours per renewal period") and suggests requiring at least 18 hours of CE in a face-to-face setting for an LMFT and at least 6 hours of CE in a face-to-face setting for an LMFT Associate.

Similarly, TAMFT requests the board to require "that direct face to face hours still be at least half of a licensees CEU hours."

Also, an individual commenter expresses "concern...that the repeal of the limit on non-interactive study for CEUs may decrease the quality of training received by licensees and thus decrease the competency of providers serving the Texas public" and request "the board require at least half, if not the majority, of CEU hours be earned in face-to-face settings."

Response: The board disagrees. After a lengthy discussion, the board has determined the language is sufficient to ensure ample and quality continuing education is available for its licensees.

Comment: Regarding proposed rule §801.263(d), requiring a supervisor to complete at least three hours of clinical supervision continuing education each renewal period, an individual commenter suggests moving the requirement that a supervisor complete the jurisprudence exam each renewal period to maintain supervisor status from §801.143(i) to §801.263(d).

Response: The board disagrees and for clarity for the supervisor, it remains under §801.143.

Comment: Regarding proposed rule §801.264, concerning Types of Acceptable Continuing Education, TCA recommends "at least half of the required CE hours be delivered by designated entities," such as "a national, state, or local mental health professional association; public school districts; regional service centers for public school districts, state or federal agencies; or mental health professional programs or centers which host accredited mental health training programs, at regionally accredited institutions of higher education."

An individual commenter asks "the board {to} consider...requiring...at least half of the required CEU hours be received from pre-approved providers," opining that "Doing so ensures the quality of CEU providers while also leaving room for private practitioners' ability to flourish as CEU providers as well as licensees' discretion regarding their selection of CEU providers."

Another individual commenter requests changing "professional counseling" to "marriage and family therapy" to fix typo in subparagraph (1), adding "graduate-level transcript" in subsection (3) for clarity, and transposing paragraphs (4) and (5) for logical organization.

Response: The board makes a technical correction, changing "professional counseling" to "marriage and family therapy" in §801.264(1).

Concerning the other comments, the board disagrees. After a lengthy discussion, the board has determined the language is sufficient to ensure ample and quality continuing education is available for its licensees.

Regarding proposed §801.268(a), concerning Reporting and Auditing of Continuing Education, the board made a technical correction, changing "of no less than 30 hours" to "as required in §801.263 of this title (relating to Requirements for Continuing Education)" to accommodate the varied number of hours required in §801.263 for each license type.

SUBCHAPTER B. THE BOARD

22 TAC §801.18

STATUTORY AUTHORITY

The amendment is adopted under the following sections of the Texas Occupations Code, which authorize the board to adopt rules: §502.152, to establish the board's procedures; §502.153, to set fees reasonable and necessary to cover the costs of administering this chapter; §502.1565, to comply with Chapter 53, Consequences of Criminal Conviction; §502.158, to standardize information concerning complaints made to the board; §502.202, to establish methods by which consumers and service recipients are notified of the name, mailing address, and telephone number of the board for the purpose of directing complaints to the board; §502.204, concerning the investigation of a complaint filed with the board; §502.2541, to administer a jurisprudence examination; §502.2545, to administer a waiver of examination for certain applicants; and §502.258, to provide for the issuance of a temporary license.

The agency certifies that legal counsel has reviewed the adoption and found it to be a valid exercise of the agency's legal authority.

Filed with the Office of the Secretary of State on May 6, 2019.

TRD-201901310

Jennifer Smothermon, M.A., LPC, LMFT

Chair

Texas State Board of Examiners of Marriage and Family Therapists

Effective date: May 26, 2019

Proposal publication date: December 14, 2018

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


SUBCHAPTER K. CONTINUING EDUCATION REQUIREMENTS

22 TAC §§801.262 - 801.264, 801.266, 801.268

STATUTORY AUTHORITY

The amendments and new sections are adopted under the following sections of the Texas Occupations Code, which authorize the board to adopt rules: §502.152, to establish the board's procedures; §502.153, to set fees reasonable and necessary to cover the costs of administering this chapter; §502.1565, to comply with Chapter 53, Consequences of Criminal Conviction; §502.158, to standardize information concerning complaints made to the board; §502.202, to establish methods by which consumers and service recipients are notified of the name, mailing address, and telephone number of the board for the purpose of directing complaints to the board; §502.204, concerning the investigation of a complaint filed with the board; §502.2541, to administer a jurisprudence examination; §502.2545, to administer a waiver of examination for certain applicants; and §502.258, to provide for the issuance of a temporary license.

§801.263.Requirements for Continuing Education.

(a) An LMFT must complete 30 clock hours of continuing education which is acceptable to the board each renewal period as described in §801.262 of this title (relating to Deadlines).

(b) An LMFT Associate must complete 15 clock hours of continuing education which is acceptable to the board each renewal period as described in §801.262 of this title.

(c) All licensees are required to complete six hours of ethics each renewal period.

§801.264.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 the education provided is related to the practice of marriage and family therapy;

(2) ensures 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 or certificate of attendance displaying the licensee's name, topic covered, date course was taken, and hours of credit earned;

(4) maintains all continuing education records and documentation for at least three years; and

(5) provides participants a mechanism for evaluation of each continuing education activity.

§801.268.Reporting and Auditing of Continuing Education.

(a) At the time of renewal, the licensee must report completion of approved continuing education as required in §801.263 of this title (relating to Requirements for Continuing Education).

(b) The board will conduct random audits of a licensee's compliance with the continuing education requirements. A licensee selected for audit must submit continuing education documentation upon request. Individual continuing education certificates of attendance may not be submitted unless the licensee is requested to do so by the board.

The agency certifies that legal counsel has reviewed the adoption and found it to be a valid exercise of the agency's legal authority.

Filed with the Office of the Secretary of State on May 6, 2019.

TRD-201901311

Jennifer Smothermon, M.A., LPC, LMFT

Chair

Texas State Board of Examiners of Marriage and Family Therapists

Effective date: May 26, 2019

Proposal publication date: December 14, 2018

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


22 TAC §§801.263 - 801.267

STATUTORY AUTHORITY

The repeals are adopted under the following sections of the Texas Occupations Code, which authorize the board to adopt rules: §502.152, to establish the board's procedures; §502.153, to set fees reasonable and necessary to cover the costs of administering this chapter; §502.1565, to comply with Chapter 53, Consequences of Criminal Conviction; §502.158, to standardize information concerning complaints made to the board; §502.202, to establish methods by which consumers and service recipients are notified of the name, mailing address, and telephone number of the board for the purpose of directing complaints to the board; §502.204, concerning the investigation of a complaint filed with the board; §502.2541, to administer a jurisprudence examination; §502.2545, to administer a waiver of examination for certain applicants; and §502.258, to provide for the issuance of a temporary license.

The agency certifies that legal counsel has reviewed the adoption and found it to be a valid exercise of the agency's legal authority.

Filed with the Office of the Secretary of State on May 6, 2019.

TRD-201901312

Jennifer Smothermon, M.A., LPC, LMFT

Chair

Texas State Board of Examiners of Marriage and Family Therapists

Effective date: May 26, 2019

Proposal publication date: December 14, 2018

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