Samantha Fletcher, Ph.D., MSW
Executive Director


Victoria M. Rizzo, Ph.D., LCSW-R

NASW-NYS President (2022-2024), Board of Directors
Acting Dean and Professor, School of Social Welfare
University at Albany, State University of New York

Michael Cappiello, LCSW-R
NASW-NYS Past President (2020-2022), Board of Directors

Lauren Keeley, LCSW
NASW-NYS Member

David T. Diglio, LCSW
NASW-NYS Member

 

 

 

 

The work of NASW-NYS is informed by ongoing discussions and feedback from social workers in New York State. NASW-NYS leadership and staff for provide an overview of the report, updates on movement with NYSED, and host a transparent conversation about how we plan to move forward. Just as the report was developed with the input of social workers and members across the state, our advocacy must include feedback and guidance from social workers with direct practice experience.

March 30, 2020 Town Hall on the Modernizing NYS Social Work Licensure and Regulations: Click here to view the recording

September 19, 2022 Town Hall on Interstate Licensure Compact, article 163 diagnosing privilege, and the ASWB exam: Click here to view the recording

 

 

 

 

The social work compact is an interstate occupational licensure compact. Interstate compacts are constitutionally authorized, legislatively enacted, legally binding documents among states. This compact will enable regulated social workers with bachelor's, masters, and clinical licenses to serve clients in every state that joins the compact, rather than going through the licensure process in every state where they want to practice. Like the compact for a drivers license, each Social Wok Licensure Compact member state agrees to mutually recognize the licenses issues by every other member state. ⁠

It is critical bases our comments and advocacy on the feedback from social workers in the field. We are strong together.⁠

Click here to read the compact

Click here to complete the interstate compact survey

Social workers provide the majority of mental and behavioral health services in the country. In New York State there are 61,685 licensed social workers compared to 15,309 licensed psychologists, 9,292 licensed mental health counselors and 1,403 licensed marriage and family therapists (New York State Education Department, 2021). The National Association of Social Workers is the professional organization for social workers across the country. The New York State chapter (NASW-NYS) is responsible for advocating for social work members and nonmembers. During the COVID-19 crisis, social workers have continued to provide essential services in multiple venues including mental health clinics, hospitals, prisons, schools, non-profit organizations, community centers, addiction clinics, private practice, and Universities. Social workers treat the most vulnerable members of our society including children, people with developmental disabilities, people with severe mental health challenges, aging adults, and people directly impacted by COVID-19. The need for social workers will only increase as the pandemic continues and as we move into the endemic phase. Social workers are trained for this type of work and thrive in crisis situations. Currently, New York has one of the most complex set of regulations for social work licensure in the country. Over the last two years, numerous social workers across the state have contacted NASW-NYS for support obtaining their licenses from the New York State Education Department Office of Professions (NYSED). Social workers reported poor customer service, difficulty obtaining their licenses, and multiple obstacles with inter-state reciprocity. In addition, after a thorough review of licensing standards in New York State, NASW-NYS identified additional challenges for social workers. As a result, NASW-NYS is recommending changes to improve the process of licensing the social work workforce. The laws and regulations referenced in each section are available at the end of the section. In addition, they can be found in Appendix B.

Over several months, NASW-NYS gathered data from social workers in the state regarding NYSED’s Office of Professions for Social Work. As of December 2021, 106 social workers completed the survey. Neary 75% of the respondents expressed frustration, concern, or outrage at how the department handled their personal licensure experiences. See case examples in Appendix A. Of the 106 survey respondents, 34% identified customer service as a major concern. It took some social workers six months or longer to receive their licenses after submitting all the required paperwork. Many social workers reported that the office did not respond to calls and took four to six weeks to respond to email requests regarding the status of their license applications, if they replied at all. The data from the survey corroborates information NASW-NYS received from hundreds of social workers across the state over the past two years through email, phone calls, and member meetings.

A second and very significant concern is that social workers moving to New York from other states with years of experience are not granted commensurate licensure. Of the survey respondents, 11% reported difficulty obtaining their licenses in New York even though they hold equivalent licenses in other states. These social workers were told conflicting and confusing information about the requirements to obtain a license, waited months for responses, and sometimes were denied equivalent licensure due to the insurance reimbursement license level (LCSW-R) in New York that does not exist in other states.

There are several recommendations that can be adopted to rectify the customer service issues at NYSED.

(1) The Office of Professions should be appropriated funding from the New York State legislature to hire a Help Desk employee to respond to all the inquiries from social workers seeking licensure. This would solve the problem of social workers not having communication from the office when they are requesting an update on license applications. In addition, this employee could support social workers through the licensure process to ensure all necessary paperwork is filed.

(2) The Office of Professions should implement required, regular training for all employees processing social work licenses on the appropriate laws and regulations as well as the Help Desk employee. A supervisor should be readily available to assist when employees need support in interpreting the social work regulations. This would reduce the number of social workers receiving incorrect information from NYSED employees. Information provided to social workers should be consistent from every employee in the department.

(3) The current system of processing paperwork should be automated and include emails to applicants notifying them that forms are missing incomplete, or incorrect. This will prevent social workers waiting months for their licenses only to be told their paperwork is not complete and the file will not be reviewed until it is complete. (4) In addition to the previous recommendations, the Commissioner should also adopt the changes to regulations outlined in the rest of this report.

Under the Education Law’s current regulations [§7706 (5)(c)], baccalaureate and master level social work students can perform the duties of a licensed social worker under supervision of an approved licensed supervisor. Once students graduate, they are no longer covered under this regulation. This causes numerous students every year to lose job opportunities. It often takes two to four months after graduation for NYSED to process the paperwork required for graduates to sit for the Licensed Master Social Work (LMSW) exam. During this time, master level social workers are not allowed to engage in clinical social work practice preventing them from applying or accepting employment at most organizations.

Master social workers do have the option of applying for a limited permit that allows practice for one year as an LMSW. Applicants must pay $70 for the permit. Not all organizations accept the limited permit. The fee for the LMSW registration is $294. It is recommended that a new regulation be added under Education Law §7706 (5) allowing recent master level social work graduates a 12-month grace period to register with the state and pass the licensing exam. This recommendation is modeled after social work regulations in other states (Georgia, California, Massachusetts) as well as the grace period allotted to graduates of nursing programs in New York. This grace period would allow recent graduates to accept social work positions and continue the same level of practice required for field work education. Under the grace period, new MSW graduates would be allowed to work under the supervision of an LMSW, LCSW, or LCSW-R. This regulation would remove undue stress caused by delays in processing paperwork in the Office of Professions as well as removing the $70 payment for a limited permit.

Education Law:
NYS Social Work: Laws, Rules & Regulations: Article 154

§7706. Exempt persons. (5)(c)
Nothing contained in this article shall be construed to: Prevent or prohibit the performance of activities and services within the scope of practice of licensed master social work or licensed clinical social work as defined in section seventy-seven hundred one of this article by the following:

a. students who are enrolled in a baccalaureate of social work or professional graduate level social work program of study, and which are required to perform as part of the field work component of that program, services provided under the supervision of a field work supervisor approved by the program;

The titles of Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW) and Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) are protected under Education Law, NYS Social Work: Laws, Rules & Regulations: Article 154 § 7702 (2)(3). The title Social Worker is not protected and is often used in job titles that do not require someone with a social work degree to hold the position. Bachelor, master, and doctoral level social workers must complete rigorous academic programs to graduate with their respective degrees. The title of social worker should be reserved for those who have graduated from a social work program at any of the three levels of education.

A new regulation should be added under Education Law §7702 protecting the title of social worker for graduates of a bachelor, master, or doctoral social work degree program. Unlicensed social workers provide a multitude of non-clinical services outlined in Education Law §7702 (1)(an). All social workers are educated and trained through a generalist curriculum that prepares graduates to perform clinical, administrative, advocacy, and policy services. Social workers who choose to work in non-clinical settings or are not eligible for licensure (Bachelor of Social Work, Ph.D., or Doctor of Social Work) should have their titles protected. It is recommended that subdivision three be added to Education Law §7702. Subdivision three should include a provision that the title “social worker” should only be used by individuals who have earned a bachelor, master, and/or doctoral degree from a social work degree program.

Education Law:
NYS Social Work: Laws, Rules & Regulations: Article 154
§ 7702. Authorized practice and the use of the titles "licensed master social worker" and "licensed clinical social worker".

1. In addition to the licensed social work services included in subdivisions one and two of section seventy-seven hundred one of this article, licensed master social workers and licensed clinical social workers may perform the following social work functions that do not require a license under this article, including but not limited to:

a. Serve as a community organizer, planner, or administrator for social service programs in any setting.
b. Provide supervision and/or consultation to individuals, groups, institutions, and agencies.
c. Serve as a faculty member or instructor in an educational setting.
d. Plan and/or conduct research projects and program evaluation studies.
e. Maintain familiarity with both professional and self-help systems in the community in order to assist the client in those services when necessary.
f. Provide advice and guidance and assist individuals or groups with difficult day to day problems such as finding employment, locating sources of assistance, and organizing community groups to work on a specific problem.
g. Consult with other agencies on problems and cases served in common and coordinating services among agencies or providing case management.
h. Conduct data gathering on social problems.
i. Serve as an advocate for those clients or groups of clients whose needs are not being met by available programs or by a specific agency.
j. Assess, evaluate, and formulate a plan of action based on client need.
k. Provide training to community groups, agencies, and other professionals.
l. Provide administrative supervision.
m. Provide peer services.
n. Collect basic information, gathering of demographic data, and informal observations, screening and referral used for general eligibility for a program or service and determining the functional status of an individual for the purpose of determining the need for services.

2. Practice of "licensed master social work" and use of the title "licensed master social worker" and designation "LMSW".

a. Only a person licensed or exempt under this article shall practice "licensed master social work" as defined in subdivision one of section seventy-seven hundred one of this article.
b. Only a person licensed pursuant to subdivision one of section seventy-seven hundred four of this article shall use the title "licensed master social worker" or the designation "LMSW".

3. Practice of "licensed clinical social work" and use of the title "licensed clinical social worker" and designation "LCSW".

a. Only a person licensed or exempt under this article shall practice "licensed clinical social work" as defined in subdivision two of section seventy-seven hundred one of this article.
b. Only a person licensed pursuant to subdivision two of section seventy-seven hundred four of this article shall use the title "licensed clinical social worker" or the designation "LCSW".

The experience requirements to obtain the credentialing for Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) are listed in regulations in the Education Law: New York State Social Work: Laws, Rules & Regulations: Article 154, §7704 (2)(c) as well as Regulations of the Commissioner: Part 74 Social Work, §74.3 Experience requirement for licensure as a licensed clinical social worker, §74.6 Supervision requirements for certain qualified individuals providing clinical social work services, and §74.9 Licensure by endorsement of certain licensed clinical social workers. There are a few problems with the experience requirements needed to obtain the LCSW certification: (1) time constraints for client hours (2) reporting requirements for supervised work, and (3) reciprocity requirements for clinical social workers in other jurisdictions.

(1) Time Constraints for Client Hours. LCSW applicants must complete 2,000 supervised client contact hours working either full-time or part-time within three to six years after licensure as a Licensed Master Social Worker (Education Law, § 7704. Requirements for a license (2)(c) & Regulations of the Commissioner, §74.3. Experience requirement for licensure as a licensed clinical social worker (a)). The sixyear time constraint under this regulation disproportionately impacts family caregivers, who need to take prolonged leave to care for children, people with disabilities, or aging family members. In addition, the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic impacted the work of social workers in New York State. Some did not have access to a supervisor during this time and could not engage in clinical practice. This delay will impact social workers for several years causing barriers to meeting the six-year requirement.
(2) Reporting Requirements for Supervised Work. It is the responsibility of the social work supervisor to verify the LCSW applicants’ clinical experience to the NYSED  (Regulations of the Commissioner, §74.3. Experience requirement for licensure as a licensed clinical social worker (a)(4) & §74.6 Supervision requirements for certain qualified individuals providing clinical social work services (e)). It is difficult for some social workers to find their previous supervisors or obtain the necessary documentation from the supervisors. There is a provision under the Regulations of the Commissioner §74.3 (a)(4) for deceased or unavailable supervisors. This provision does not address all the challenges faced by applicants including supervisors who are unwilling to provide the appropriate documentation.
(3) Reciprocity Requirements for Social Workers in Other Jurisdictions. Each jurisdiction sets its own licensing criteria for licensed clinical social workers. Clinical social workers from other jurisdictions with a minimum of 10 years full time experience have the option of obtaining licensure through endorsement (Regulations of the Commissioner, §74.3. Experience requirement for licensure as a licensed clinical social worker (a)(1) & §74.9 Licensure by endorsement of certain licensed clinical social workers (d)(f)). To obtain this privilege, social workers must submit Licensed Clinical Social Worker Form 4F Certification of Licensed Experience. This process does not account for social workers who are unable to locate a colleague to complete Form 4F or colleagues who refuse to verify the experience.

The following recommendations would address and correct the problematic experience requirements needed to obtain the LCSW certification in New York.

(1) Time Constraints for Client Hours. It is recommended that the six-year time limit be eliminated or increased to nine years. This recommendation is modeled after social work regulations in other states (Georgia, Massachusetts, Florida).
(2) Reporting Requirements for Supervised Work. According to Education Law: Article 130 General Provisions: Subarticle 2, State Management §6508 Assistance by state boards for the professions (2) “[e]ach board, or its committee on licensing, shall select or prepare examinations, may conduct oral and practical examinations and reexaminations, shall fix passing grades, and assist the department in other licensing matters as prescribed by the board of regents (emphasis added). It is recommended that social workers who are not able to acquire the signatures of their supervisors be able to present their case to the State Board for Social Workers. The State Board for Social Workers, which is primarily composed of licensed social workers, has the experience and skill set to determine if social workers have met the requirements for the LCSW.
(3) Reciprocity Requirements for Social Workers in Other Jurisdictions. Refer to description §6508 in number (2). It is recommended that licensed clinical social workers from other jurisdictions who are not able to acquire the signatures of their colleagues be able to present their case to the State Board for Social Workers. This board has the qualifications to determine if social workers from other jurisdictions have met the requirements for the LCSW.

Education Law:
NYS Social Work:Laws, Rules & Regulations: Article 154
§ 7704. Requirements for a license. (2)(c)

To qualify for a license as a "licensed clinical social worker", an applicant shall fulfill the following requirements:

c. Experience: have at least three years full-time supervised post-graduate clinical social work experience in diagnosis, psychotherapy, and assessmentbased treatment plans, or its part-time equivalent, obtained over a continuous period not to exceed six years, under the supervision, satisfactory to the department, of a psychiatrist, a licensed psychologist, or a licensed clinical social worker in a facility setting or other supervised settings approved by the department. Satisfactory experience obtained in an entity operating under a waiver issued by the department pursuant to section sixty-five hundred three-a of this title may be accepted by the department, notwithstanding that such experience may have been obtained prior to the effective date of such section sixty-five hundred three-a and/or prior to the entity having obtained a waiver. The department may, for good cause shown, accept satisfactory experience that was obtained in a setting that would have been eligible for a waiver but which has not obtained a waiver from the department or experience that was obtained in good faith by the applicant under the belief that appropriate authorization had been obtained for the experience, provided that such experience meets all other requirements for acceptable experience;

Regulations of the Commissioner: Part 74 Social Work
§74.3. Experience requirement for licensure as a licensed clinical social worker.

a. An applicant for licensure as a licensed clinical social worker shall meet the experience requirement for licensure by submitting documentation of three years of full-time supervised clinical social work experience in diagnosis, psychotherapy, and assessment-based treatment plans, or the part-time equivalent, or a combination of full-time and part-time supervised clinical social work experience in diagnosis, psychotherapy, and assessment-based treatment plans, completed over a period not to exceed six years, in accordance with the requirements of section 74.6 of this Part. For purposes of this subdivision, the full-time experience shall consist of not less than 2,000 client contact hours over a continuous period of at least 36 months and not to exceed six years.

1. Experience obtained in New York must be obtained as a licensed master social worker (LMSW) or limited permit holder, except the department may, in limited circumstances, accept other experience where an applicant demonstrates that such experience was obtained in an authorized setting and under the supervision of a qualified supervisor. Experience obtained in another jurisdiction must be obtained after the applicant completes the master's degree program in social work required for licensure in licensed clinical social work, as prescribed in section 74.1(c) of this Part, and such experience must be obtained in a setting authorized in such jurisdiction to provide such services and be under the supervision of a qualified supervisor acceptable to the department.
4. The supervisor(s) shall verify the applicant’s supervised experience to the department on forms prescribed by the department. The department may request additional information or clarification in regard to the supervisor’s qualifications or the authority of the setting to provide professional services. In the event a supervisor is deceased or not available, the verification may be submitted by a licensed colleague who attests to the name and qualifications of the supervisor, the dates of supervised experience, client contact hours and supervision hours and other information required by the department to evaluate the applicant’s supervised experience.

Regulations of the Commissioner: Part 74 Social Work
§74.6 Supervision requirements for certain qualified individuals providing clinical social work services.

e. Verification of the experience. The supervisor shall be responsible for maintaining records of the client contact hours in diagnosis, psychotherapy and assessment-based treatment planning and supervision hours provided to the qualified individual. Upon request by the department, such records shall be provided by the supervisor.

Regulations of the Commissioner: Part 74 Social Work
§74.9 Licensure by endorsement of certain licensed clinical social workers.

An applicant seeking endorsement of a license in clinical social work issued by another state, country or territory shall present evidence of:

a. age, the applicant shall be at least 21 years of age;
b. licensure by another jurisdiction in clinical social work;
c. completion of a master’s degree in social work with clinical content that qualified the applicant for licensure as a licensed clinical social worker in the other jurisdiction;
d. completion of supervised experience in clinical social work and psychotherapy that qualified the applicant for initial licensure in the other jurisdiction;
e. passage of an examination acceptable to the department for the practice of clinical social work, as defined in section 74.2 of this Part;
f. at least ten years of experience in clinical social work satisfactory to the State Board for Social Work, within the 15 years immediately preceding the application for licensure by endorsement in New York;
g. completion of coursework in the identification and reporting of suspected child abuse and neglect or the exemption from such coursework, as specified in section 6507(3) of the Education Law;
h. good moral character as determined by the department; and
i. acceptable licensure and discipline status in each jurisdiction in which the applicant holds a professional license.

Education Law:
Article 130 General Provisions
Subarticle 2, State Management
§6508 Assistance by state boards for the professions.

2. Each board, or its committee on licensing, shall select or prepare examinations, may conduct oral and practical examinations and reexaminations, shall fix passing grades, and assist the department in other licensing matters as prescribed by the board of regents.

The LCSW-R is a third level of licensing for social workers tied to insurance reimbursement. The reimbursement regulations are in the Regulations of the Commissioner: §74.5 Authorization qualifying licensed clinical social workers for certain insurance reimbursement as well as Insurance Law sections 3221(l)(4)(D) and 4303(n). The reimbursement entitlement includes LCSW-R social workers in New York State employment group policy coverage for mental health services: “Every insurer delivering a group policy or issuing a group policy for delivery, in this state, that provides reimbursement for psychiatric or psychological services or for the diagnosis and treatment of mental health conditions, however defined in such policy, by physicians, psychiatrists or psychologists, shall make available and if requested by the policyholder provide the same coverage to insureds for such services when performed by a licensed clinical social worker, within the lawful scope of his or her practice, who is licensed pursuant to article one hundred fifty-four of the education law” (Insurance Law: § 3221. (1)(4)(D). There are a few problems with the qualifications for the LCSW-R: (1) client contact hour requirement and (2) interstate reciprocity.

(1) Client Contact Hour Requirement. The Regulations of the Commissioner §74.5 (c) state that LCSWs must complete at least 2,400 supervised client contact hours in a minimum of three years. The regulation necessitates that LCSWs must complete at least 400 client hours in any one year to meet the requirements of Insurance Law, section 3221(l)(4)(D) or 4303(n). As written, the Insurance Law does not require a minimum number of hours per year. It only requires at least three years of supervised experience after obtaining the LCSW. Requiring a minimum of 400 client hours a year disproportionately impacts caregivers who must take extended leave to care for a child, person with a disability, or aging adults.
(2) Interstate Reciprocity. Licensed clinical social workers who move to New York from other jurisdictions do not have clear guidelines to qualify for LCSW-R licensing. This level of licensing provides clinical social workers with the broadest coverage of insurance reimbursement. No other state has an additional level of licensing, above the Licensed Clinical Social Worker title, tied to insurance coverage. This results in clinical social workers with decades of experience relocating to New York and receiving instructions that they must now work an additional three years under supervision to receive the LCSWR level of licensure.

The following recommendations would address and correct the problematic qualifications needed to obtain the LCSW-R certification in New York.

(1) Client Contact Hour Requirement. It is recommended that the yearly 400-hour client contact requirement be removed from the Regulations of the Commissioner §74.5 (c). The Insurance Law does not stipulate this requirement and it should not be included in the Regulations of the Commissioner. This would provide equity for LCSWs, who are also caregivers, to complete the required 2,400-hour client contact regulation in their own timeframe.

(2) Interstate Reciprocity. It is recommended that a new regulation be added under the Regulations of the Commissioner §74.5 allowing licensed clinical social workers from other jurisdictions with 10 years full time experience and no professional sanctions be granted the LCSW-R level of licensing. Since no other jurisdiction has a level of licensing written into their insurance law, social workers do not have the ability to meet the New York State guidelines for the LCSW-R. Social workers from other jurisdictions with at least 10 years full time experience are not a threat to public safety. They have the clinical expertise to work in the state of New York and should also have access to full insurance reimbursement.

Please refer to the highlighted portion of the Insurance Law below that substantiates the above narrative in point (1).

Regulations of the Commissioner:
§74.5 Authorization qualifying licensed clinical social workers for certain insurance reimbursement.

c. In order to fulfill the requirements of Insurance Law, section 3221(l)(4)(D) or 4303(n), the licensed clinical social worker shall complete at least 2,400 client contact hours of experience in psychotherapy over a period of not less than three years after licensure as a licensed clinical social worker, with not less than 400 client contact hours in any one year, in accordance with the following criteria:

1. Acceptable setting. The experience shall be completed in a setting acceptable to the department, as described in subdivision (a) of section 74.6 of this Part, which may include a practice owned or operated by the applicant.

2. Supervision of experience. The licensed clinical social worker shall submit for review and approval by the State Board for Social Work, on forms prescribed by the department, a plan for supervised experience that will meet the requirements of this paragraph. The plan shall be submitted to the State Board for Social Work before the licensed clinical social worker commences the supervised experience requirement under this section.

i. The plan for supervision shall specify:

a. individual or group consultation of no less than two hours per month; or

b. enrollment in a program authorized to provide psychotherapy offered by an institution of higher education or by a psychotherapy institute chartered by the Board of Regents.

3. An applicant who started the experience to qualify for insurance reimbursement prior to January 1,2011 may submit any experience obtained prior to licensure as a licensed clinical social worker provided that such experience, in the determination of the department, satisfies the experience requirements for such reimbursement and is obtained after the experience used to satisfy the experience requirements for licensure as a licensed clinical social worker. Experience to qualify for insurance reimbursement commenced on after January 1, 2011 shall be obtained only after licensure as a licensed clinical social worker.

Insurance Law:
§ 3221. (1)(4)(D)
(1)(4) (A) Every insurer delivering a group policy or issuing a group policy for delivery, in this state, that provides reimbursement for psychiatric or psychological services or for the diagnosis and treatment of mental health conditions, however defined in such policy, by physicians, psychiatrists or psychologists, shall make available and if requested by the policyholder provide the same coverage to insureds for such services when performed by a licensed clinical social worker, within the lawful scope of his or her practice, who is licensed pursuant to article one hundred fifty-four of the education law. Written notice of the availability of such coverage shall be delivered to the policyholder prior to inception of such group policy and annually thereafter, except that this notice shall not be required where a policy covers two hundred or more employees or where the benefit structure was the subject of collective bargaining affecting persons who are employed in more than one state.

(D) In addition to the requirements of subparagraph (A) of this paragraph, every insurer issuing a group policy for delivery in this state where the policy provides reimbursement to insureds for psychiatric or psychological services or for the diagnosis and treatment of mental health conditions, however defined in such policy, by physicians, psychiatrists or psychologists, shall provide the same coverage to insureds for such services when performed by a licensed clinical social worker, within the lawful scope of his or her practice, who is licensed pursuant to subdivision two of section seven thousand seven hundred four of the education law and in addition shall have either: (i) three or more additional years experience in psychotherapy, which for the purposes of this subparagraph shall mean the use of verbal methods in interpersonal relationships with the intent of assisting a person or persons to modify attitudes and behavior that are intellectually, socially or emotionally maladaptive, under supervision, satisfactory to the state board for social work, in a facility, licensed or incorporated by an appropriate governmental department, providing services for diagnosis or treatment of mental health conditions; (ii) three or more additional years experience in psychotherapy under the supervision, satisfactory to the state board for social work, of a psychiatrist, a licensed and registered psychologist or a licensed clinical social worker qualified for reimbursement pursuant to subsection (e) of this section, or (iii) a combination of the experience specified in items (i) and (ii) of this subparagraph totaling three years, satisfactory to the state board for social work.

§ 4303. (2)(i)(n)

(2) where the contract provides coverage for physician services benefits for outpatient care provided by a psychiatrist or psychologist licensed to practice in this state, a licensed clinical social worker who meets the requirements of subsection (n) of this section, a nurse practitioner licensed to practice on this state, or professional corporation or university faculty practice corporation thereof.

(i) A medical expense indemnity corporation or health service corporation that provides coverage for physicians, psychiatrists or psychologists for psychiatric or psychological services or for the diagnosis and treatment of mental health conditions, however defined in such contract, shall make available and if requested by all persons holding individual contracts in a group whose premiums are paid by a remitting agent or by the contract holder in the case of a group contract issued pursuant to section four thousand three hundred five of this article, provide the same coverage for such services when performed by a licensed clinical social worker, within the lawful scope of his or her practice, who is licensed pursuant to article one hundred fifty-four of the education law. The state board for social work shall maintain a list of all licensed clinical social workers qualified for reimbursement under this subsection. Such coverage shall be made available at the inception of all new contracts and, with respect to all other contracts, at any anniversary date subject to evidence of insurability. Written notice of the availability of such coverage shall be delivered to the group remitting agent or group contract holder prior to inception of such contract and annually thereafter, except that this notice shall not be required where a contract covers two hundred or more employees or where the benefit structure was the subject of collective bargaining affecting persons who are employed in more than one state. (n) In addition to the requirements of subsection (i) of this section, every health service or medical expense indemnity corporation issuing a group contract pursuant to this section or a group remittance contract for delivery in this state which contract provides reimbursement to subscribers or physicians, psychiatrists or psychologists for psychiatric or psychological services or for the diagnosis and treatment of mental health conditions, however defined in such contract, must provide the same coverage to persons covered under the group contract for such services when performed by a licensed clinical social worker, within the lawful scope of his or her practice, who is licensed pursuant to subdivision two of section seven thousand seven hundred four of the education law and in addition shall have either (i) three or more additional years experience in psychotherapy, which for the purposes of this subsection shall mean the use of verbal methods in interpersonal relationships with the intent of assisting a person or persons to modify attitudes and behavior which are intellectually, socially or emotionally maladaptive, under supervision, satisfactory to the state board for social work, in a facility, licensed or incorporated by an appropriate governmental department, providing services for diagnosis or treatment of mental health conditions, or (ii) three or more additional years experience in psychotherapy under the supervision, satisfactory to the state board for social work, of a psychiatrist, a licensed and registered psychologist or a licensed clinical social worker qualified for reimbursement pursuant to subsection (i) of this section, or (iii) a combination of the experience specified in paragraphs (i) and (ii) totaling three years, satisfactory to the state board for social work. The state board for social work shall maintain a list of all licensed clinical social workers qualified for reimbursement under this subsection.

The number of people experiencing mental health crisis has grown exponentially during the COVID-19 pandemic. In much the same way that medical professionals are the face of the workforce combatting the physical impact of this virus, social workers and other mental health providers are the face of the workforce combatting the mental health impact of this worldwide tragedy. Social workers are trained for this type of work and are here to answer the call.

It is imperative that social workers in New York have the ability to navigate the licensing process quickly and easily. Currently, there are barriers at NYSED that cause delays in processing licenses for social workers. We strongly urge Governor Hochul and the New York State legislature to implement the recommendations laid out above. With 800,000 deaths in the United States to date, the mental health impact of COVID-19 will be felt for years to come. Social workers need to be able to meet the needs of New Yorkers without the stress of processing licensing paperwork.

The following case examples were gathered following a survey done by the National Association of Social Workers in 2021. It is still on-going, but a representative has spoken to the below individuals and asked their permission to share their stories in an attempt to advocate for change at NYSED. These are only a handful of situations that are representative of the larger problem at the Office of Professions. Further details can be provided upon request, but at this time we are working to maintain confidentiality to avoid retaliation towards individual social workers. See below for a summary of complaints results.

NYSED Customer Service
Case 2 addresses how NYSED handles disciplinary issues unprofessionally.
Case 3 addresses how difficult it is to get clear, consistent information from NYSED in a timely manner.
Case 4 describes poor customer service and difficulty getting answers on an application.
Case 5 addresses disciplinary proceedings handled poorly.
Case 6 addresses poor customer service in processing a temporary permit.
Case 7 addresses difficulty communicating with NYSED for state reciprocity.
Case 9 addresses poor customer service when communicating with NYSED.
Case 10 addresses poor customer service when communicating with NYSED.
Case 11 addresses difficulty obtaining licensure for employment.
Case 15 addresses poor responses and concerns about interpretations of social work law.

Post Master’s Degree Practice
Case 1 addresses the barriers to obtaining post-master’s licensure due to testing.
Case 6 addresses the difficulty in obtaining a temporary permit to practice.
Case 8 addresses applying for disability accommodations for testing.
Case 12 addresses difficulty passing ASWB Exam for licensure.

Experience Requirements for Clinical Licensure
Case 7 addresses difficulty getting reciprocity from North Carolina.
Case 14 addresses difficulty getting reciprocity from Massachusetts.
Case 15 addresses difficulty getting reciprocity for high level social worker.

LCSW-R
Case 13 addresses the 400-hour minimum requirement for LCSW-R licensure

Case 1

I am an Educated Health Care Professional. I have both my LMSW and CASAC credentials. It took three attempts to pass my LMSW and now again I have taken and failed my LCSW three times. I work full time and have dedicated hundreds of dollars and countless hours upon hours to do the work to study, and learn the material. I have done the work. I have studied and prepared over and over again. I have purchased and participated in various study packets, Bootcamp’s, workshops and materials that have been offered to assist in passing. I am extremely frustrated and disappointed that the process is so very difficult and so expensive to gain my LCSW when I have done the work over and over to pass. It should not be this challenging and cost prohibitive. The cost has been far too expensive all while continuing to work and pay to keep my CEU’s updated and current. The time deprivation has caused me far more feeling “burnt out” then the work I am passionate about doing will ever be. So disappointing. -Anonymous LMSW, CASAC

Case 2

To whom it may concern,

In March 2020 I received a letter from the NYS Department of Education Office of Professional Discipline stating that there was sufficient evidence that I had committed professional misconduct. Upon my inquiry of the information provided in this letter, which stated that I could obtain an attorney at my own expense and take this to trial or settle this matter outside of court without having to go through the time, expense and uncertainty of a formal disciplinary hearing. I was informed that I was receiving a technical violation for being arrested and convicted of driving under the influence in 2016. I was informed by the Office of Professional Discipline that I was to submit proof that I completed an outpatient treatment and “possibly” be responsible for a fine of $500.00.

The outpatient I attended and completed submitted the requested documentation and I did not hear anything from the office of professional discipline again until May of 2021. I received three identical letters, each mailed to the different addresses I resided in over the past 12 months. The letters indicated the same information that the initial letter indicated that I received back in March of 2020. It stated that there was sufficient evidence that I committed professional misconduct and advised me of my right to be represented by an attorney or that a settlement could be reached without having to go through the time, expense, uncertainty of a formal disciplinary hearing.

Again, I contacted the same person that I contacted the previous year, as these three letters were from him as well, and left him a detailed message inquiring about his receipt of my certificate from my counselor and also that I did not want to go to trial. I think it is important to add that I felt extremely intimidated by these letters. I am familiar with the powerlessness I hold in situations involving systems of power as a result of my mistakes and I feel that this was preyed on in this matter. I have paid a great deal for this mistake and taken the measures for my life not to be interrupted by it today so receiving these letters was alarming and of course I wanted to make it go away.

Furthermore, the next several weeks consisted of attempted phone calls I made to this individual and he called me back from a different phone number then the one indicated on the letter. This individual left me a voicemail stating that he needed my completion certificate and that he never received it and again told me that I was “probably” going to be responsible to pay $500.00 to the board of education for a technical violation for my arrest and conviction back in 2016. When I attempted to call him back on that same number, 631-478-0890, the number was disconnected. So, I continued to call him on the primary number that he had listed on these letters, but I did not speak to an actual person for several weeks.

When I finally spoke to him on the phone, he was calling me again from the disconnected phone number. He inquired about my financial situation, work status and how long it would take me to get him the $500.00. He told me that I could have up to 45 days to pay the $500.00 with an option of giving him three separate money orders totaling $500.00. When I tried to explain that I was struggling financially and needed all the time I could have, he said that he would ask his supervisor to decrease the fine to $250.00 but could make no guarantees. He also inquired if I could get him the money sooner if the fine was decreased to $250.00. He told me that he needed my completion certificate and usually the fine must be paid within 15 days of his receipt of it but I told him that was just not possible. I had already asked my counselor to send him the certificate a second time and he claimed that he still did not have it.

On June 14th, he called me again from the disconnected phone number stating that he received my certificate and that his supervisor agreed to drop the fine to $250.00 and I would be receiving a technical violation that would not appear as a public record. He also told me I would be receiving another letter in the mail and had 30 days to pay this fine. I have until July 16th to pay $250.00 and if I do not pay, I do not know what will happen to my license. Valuing all that I have worked to restore in my life today, I am not willing to take any risks and I am doing what they are telling me I have to do. I reached out to the NASW after I received those three letters this year and was not able to get this man on the phone. I felt confused, afraid and did not understand why I could not speak with someone to take care of this issue. I am still confused, afraid and I do not understand why things are being handled this way and that is why I am sharing my experience with the NYS Board of Education Office of Professional Discipline. I do fear retaliation as none of this makes sense but if I can help someone not have to go through what I am going through then I will use my voice in any way I can. -Anonymous LMSW

Case 3

A few years ago, I was trying to get experience for my LCSW-R counted toward this licensure level and due to breaks in this experience to care for my young children it took a while to accumulate this experience. My experience bridged a period where both the rules regarding who can provide the LCSW-R experience changed, and a previous supervisor was no longer able to sign-off on my forms. I needed guidance from NYSED on how to handle these issues.

I tried to reach NYSED by phone, but the phone message said to send an email. When I sent an email, I got back a form response that was not specific to my questions, nor did it answer my questions. NYSED later implemented a contact form on their webpage to be used instead of contacting them via phone or email that once again had NYSED respond with a similar form email that did not address my specific questions. On occasion a NYSED staff member would try to answer my questions, but these responses were often vague, and they did not respond to followup questions. Through the vague responses I was able to piece together a strategy and fortunately NYSED accepted my experience and granted me my LCSW-R. This process took months of backand-forth that could have been resolved in a simple phone call.

I remember when I was applying for my LCSW it was possible to call the board on the phone and have questions answered about credentialing. That this ability to contact my state board has become so challenging is frustrating it is a shame and leads to lessening the quality of the field if one cannot get guidance in a prompt and clear manner. One should be able to reach out to the board directly about licensing and other issues and get a constructive response in a timely manner.

As a contrast to NYSED, I’ve recently had contact with the Pennsylvania and California state boards as I had clients moving to these states and I was asking if I could get temporary approval to offer teletherapy to my clients in their respective states until their insurance adjusted, and they found new providers. Both of these boards responded via email in less than 24 hours with the pertinent information specific to my question. NYS should be able to offer the same level of accessibility as these two states and at the same level they had provided in the past as the goal is to provide the best possible care to clients and to elevate the profession. -Anonymous LCSW-R

Case 4

My experience has been horrible as has older social worker. My experience as follows:

1. Application process very cumbersome.

2. There does not appear to be away to check the progress of your application for LCSW. You are not allowed to call. All my information was submitted in sept. I sent an email. No one responded. Sent a second email, received it was checked in 10/04. Must give 6 to 8 weeks before I can ask if completed. I had a question for them regarding my MSW was done as advanced standing, with credits credited to me from my BSW I asked if they would use a looked back on my undergraduate for my LCSW do to this. They didn’t answer. I asked because a friend of mine who applied for their LCSW was told that they didn’t have a DSM class in their graduate work and would have to take a semester of the DSM from a local university, pass it, submit it and then they would make the decision if they could then sit for the exam. So, I asked him the question because I need to know if they need my undergraduate transcript to be submitted in order to make that decision.

3. I emailed last night the status of my application and was told they are still working on applications from august, but the website says they are working on applications I believe from November. They stated it would be another 4 to 6 weeks. I think this is ridiculous. If they are going to require me to take a class, I need to know so I can register.

4 Most of the people who do answer the call are rude and not helpful I am helping you to understand the process. No one can ask a question. I also think when you ask for an update, they should give an update not it will be another 4 to 6 weeks.

5. They had no problem processing my $274 or so application fee, within 12 hours of submitting it on line. Payment should be made after the process is complete.

6. Lastly, I graduated 1989. Language and testing questions are far different than the way they were written in my era. I think this is very biased for the older SW. Most people my age who were beginning to raise families were not grandfathered in because we were too busy raising children and working. So, we missed out. Most older workers are failing the exam due to this process.

I appreciate anything you are able to do to advocate for Social Workers. Thank you.

-Anonymous seeking LCSW

Case 5

I have been an LCSW-R and private practitioner for many years. In August I got a call from the NYSED Office of Professional Discipline that they had received a complaint about my care of a specific client, (First complaint I have ever received) I was not told the nature of the complaint or who made it. I knew right away who had made the complaint and the nature of it, as this was a case in which the father of the child has interfered with 2 previous counselors prior to myself, both of whom had resigned from the case. At first the person told me that if my involvement in the case was court-ordered, they would not investigate further. The client/child's attorney faxed some legal papers over that indicated that despite a petition from the child's father asking that I be removed as the child's therapist, which the judge denied. This was not considered sufficient to not investigate further. I was then given 30 days to produce the entire file for review. I called my malpractice insurance, and they hired an attorney in NYC for me (everything is by video). It took me weeks to gather the entire file, which turned out to be 337 pages. I then spent $278 to get it scanned and put on a thumb drive. My attorney had been on vacation for Jewish holidays and asked for an extension of time for her to review the file, but this was denied. She forwarded the file, and about 3 weeks later, the investigator scheduled an interview with me and my attorney. Meanwhile, I felt a great deal of stress and I decided to back out of the case, which caused both the mother and son great upset. The interview was only about 30 minutes and the investigator said that I should have provided the mother with potential referrals at our last session. I just got a letter that indicated no issues were uncovered that would require discipline, etc. I still don't know what information is given to the complainant. I have heard from the mother and the child's attorney that the mother has taken the child to another counselor, and that dad is trying to interfere again. Dad has a huge chip on his shoulder about the mom divorcing him and continually tells the child about how bad his mother it. I feel that this whole process caused me a lot of stress, as well as the client and his mother, while Dad has no consequences. I am still not clear about why I couldn't be told the nature of the complaint, even though I could guess. These situations between separated/divorced parents must be common. It feels like it could have been handled better/differently. -Anonymous LCSW-R

Case 6

Getting my temp LMSW permit this summer was extremely stressful because I had to push back starting my job (which I had already lined client up for) several weeks (after spending the summer unemployed, waiting for my temp permit to come in) because it took NYSED weeks longer than expected to get back to me. I submitted my paperwork with enough time to allow them to process it, but when it did not come in fast enough, I had no effective way to contact NYSED about it, and no way to check the progress or if they had even received the application. I filled out the form and did not hear back. A friend of mine gave me a tip to call my state senators office and let them know that I hadn’t been able to start practicing because I was waiting on NYSED to process my temp permit, and because of this, important service was being delayed to my clients because I had to wait on my temp permit. I called the state senator’s office on Friday afternoon, they said they would get back to me on Monday. On Monday morning I explained my situation to the representative from the state senator’s office and by the end of the day, I had my temp permit number posted on the NYSED verification list. This leads me to believe that the NYSED processing system is so completely inefficient if it can delay incredibly important paperwork for weeks and then get it done in less than a day once asked by my state senator’s office. This issue not only affected my income and my ability to financially support myself, but it affected the lives of my clients, who also had to wait for services until I was able to get my permit to provide them. I am now a fully licensed LMSW, but the temp permit process was horrible! -Anonymous LMSW

Case 7

During the pandemic, my husband was finishing up his master’s degree and we had an inkling that to find the kind of job he was seeking we would likely have to move from North Carolina to another state. Although we were open minded about where we could live happily, New York made the top of our list since it is where I am originally from and there are many job opportunities in his field here. About a year before our official move, I started looking into what it would take to get my license in this state.

For some background, I graduated with my masters in 2016 and immediately started working full time doing direct clinical work, getting my full license just over 2 years later (October 2018). I emailed both the North Carolina Social Work board and the New York State Office of Professions to find out how to proceed. The NCSW board got back to me within 24 hours and told me that I am free to work with North Carolina clients regardless of where I am located as long as the client is in North Carolina. They also recommended I check with New York to make sure this was not an issue because New York would have jurisdiction. It took about two months to get a response email from NY and I was very disappointed that the answer I received was incomplete as if they did not take the time to read my whole message. I was recommended to fill out some paperwork to get my license in New York but received no guidance on whether or not I could continue to work with my North Carolina clients remotely. Next, I tried calling and was told that I could not work in the state of New York with any clients unless I have a NY license. I would also have to get a provisional license because I have been working less than 10 years, despite the fact that I completed a nationally accredited graduate program, took the same test as everyone else, and have completed more clinical hours than would have been required if I had been working in New York State. Knowing I was moving, I have been working through Betterhelp which only allows fully licensed clinicians, so going back to a provisional license was not an option.

To add to my frustration, my husband and I had put off starting a family until I completed the licensure process (and then due to covid) because I don't want to work full time while raising very young children. The idea of having to start this process over again, delay our plans, and change jobs was one that I could not stomach. I decided if I could not find a way to continue working in this field I would rather take a number of years off and then consider going back than jump through these hoops or working full time when I didn't need or want to.

As a social worker I find it offensive and inequitable that full time work is basically a necessity to get your license in NY due to the time requirements. This field is dominated by women, who also bear most of the caregiving responsibilities for children and elderly parents. I can't help but wonder how many women have been pushed out of the field for this reason. Additionally, to move forward I would have to pay a number of fees for the privilege of pursuing licensure, which I already paid in another state. These costs on top of paying student loans, continuing education costs, and other expenses related to my job, it seemed like working part time would not actually be worth what it cost just for the privilege of working. It felt very unfair and frustrating that people outside of my field were essentially saying that I was not competent enough to work with New York residents and that North Carolina could not be trusted to judge my qualifications.

After a few months a number of people told me that what I was told by New York didn't make sense. I tried calling again and this time got a different answer. I was told that I could continue to work with my North Carolina clients, and I could complete a different set of paperwork to prove that I have been working up to this point. This paperwork required I have a supervisor or colleague attest to my time working. This was better news, but the person I spoke to did not sound very confident in this information. I also found it frustrating that the board would take a colleague's word for the time I have worked but not mine even If I could provide proof of employment and all the documents the NCSW board requires for licensure.

In the end I decided the best way to proceed for now is to continue working for Betterhelp with only North Carolina residents. It is a shame that New York State seems to be working very hard to keep professionals out even in a time of high demand for therapists. This job demands so much of us, and for the education required, does not pay as well as it should in many cases. We are professionals and deserve to be treated as such. Clearly, North Carolina has figured out a way to run their licensure process in a fair and clear way. It is staffed by other social workers who understand the profession and want to retain good social workers. New York's board was slow to respond, incompetent, and I still don't trust I recieved the correct information because I did not once speak to someone with a social work degree. If it turns out they misled me, I would be the one paying the price.

I would strongly suggest the state create a separate licensing board that understands the ins and outs of our diverse profession. Adequate staffing to respond to inquiries accurately would be essential for me to feel comfortable going through the process of getting licensed. I love what I do, but I will not sacrifice the other important things in my life to jump through hoops created by people that have never had to see what it is like to jump through them themselves. It worries me that the post covid world has created more opportunities for people to move to new states (and we certainly have seen this trend all over the country) and many social workers will choose to change careers rather than obtain licenses in each new state they live in. I would love to see a national licensure process become an option so social workers can be first responders in crises without worrying and they can feel free to live how and where they want without sacrificing their careers. -Anonymous seeking New York Licensure

Case 8

Registering with a disability through the ASWB for LMSW licensing is a process that exacerbates disparities among individuals with disabilities in the social work profession. As an individual with severe Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Tic Disorder, I know that my obsessions, compulsions and tics will heighten in high stress scenarios (e.g. during exams). As a result, I have sought testing accommodations throughout my academic career for extended time and alternative testing locations. Many of my social work peers also sought accommodations for disabilities, psychiatric, physical, neurological and developmental. Our lived experience has only strengthened our intervention skills and ability to engage in empowerment practice with clients. I truly believe we are an asset to the profession, and that is what we are told.

However, I was disheartened to register for my licensing exam only to be met with more obstacles. After seeking jobs in forensic social work, I quickly learned I would not be hired without a license. So, I began the process to register, only to be met with the difficult decision whether or not to register quickly (allowing faster employment in my chosen field) without accommodations, or take extended time (putting off employment) to register with accommodations. Ultimately, I decided it was not worth the risk of failure and thus had to change my immediate career goals as well as pay a $30 disability fee because I “changed my mind”. This in itself is abhorrent but it’s not the full extent of the ableism of NYSED and the ASWB.

I, like many of my peers seeking licensure am 26+, not in school, and not yet employed. Therefore, I do not have health insurance. Yet to register for accommodations I need a qualified professional that I’ve had a treatment history with, to fill out paperwork. Without health insurance this has cost me $350 out of pocket, in addition to the $30 disability penalty (as I call it), on top of $545+ registration fees and test prep materials. In short, I need health insurance to get my license with accommodations, but I can’t get a job with health insurance without my license.

People with disabilities face economic disparities, which the ASWB is exacerbating my delaying licensure, and thus employment, as well as adding financial burden for accommodation-seekers (especially the many without insurance at the time of graduation). This is the opposite of disability justice, a topic that is a hallmark of the social work profession. Accommodations are not advantages in any sense of the word. Extended time, test readers, medical devices, paper test booklets etc, are NOT measures of our social work skills. Yet only those with disabilities must jump through hoops to pass the exam with dignity and equity. Gatekeeping and proving “worthiness for services” continues to be a dark mark of the social work profession, and I am saddened to report that the ASWB and NYSED are openly engaging in this antiquated practice.

I highly recommend that NYSED and the ASWB allow for alternative testing accommodations at the request of the individual without the unjust, costly, and lengthy process of “proving one’s disability”. Any fees associated with accommodation seeking should be waived or reimbursed by the ASWB. The ASWB should be able to simply request records from an individual’s undergraduate or graduate disabilities center if they must require proof of disability. But the ASWB is not the authority on disabilities nor who is worthy of accommodations. -Anonymous seeking LMSW

Case 9

I submitted all the new information they requested for my LCSW application in April, and since then, they never followed up with me. I tried to give them some time, because on their site it says if you contact them about the application prior to giving them six weeks, it will take longer. I contacted them in July through their site, and then started emailing them a month ago. When I didn’t get a response two weeks later, I called and was told my information was received in April, but they never updated it, and asked me to check back in one week, as the woman responsible for doing that will get to it in a few days. My new information was sitting on a desk at NYSED collecting dust since April. No response from them since then, and I got caught up in a film project, so I haven’t had the chance to call them back yet.

Prior to submitting the new information, I had another issue where I had to get some of my supervision hours from a psychiatrist prior to getting an LCSW supervisor, and the psychiatrist never told me he was not board certified, even though he’s the main psychiatrist for the only inpatient mental health unit in my county, and NYSED didn’t say anything to me about having to be board certified until long after they got documentation, so that was another mess.

One reason I took so long to call them was that when I called about the prior issue, the woman completely ruined my day by the way she spoke to me, and said that I’m not supposed to call them, that I’m supposed to email them instead. I felt awful after that call. I don’t mind following the rules, but when I do, I don’t get answers. -Anonymous seeking LCSW

Case 10

In June 2019 I met an LCSW candidate who had at that time been waiting six months for permission to sit for her exam--she had applied for her LCSW exactly when she had become eligible with supervision and clinical hours. Based on her experience, I applied in September 2019--the State cashed my check 😉 -- I knew I should be eligible to sit for the LCSW exam in March 2021 and wanted to avoid the delay.

As of September 2019, I began calling and emailing with the NYS LCSW licensing board periodically to determine what they still needed from me other than supervision and clinical hours.

On 12/12/2019 I was told (unfortunately by phone so no written record) that, no they didn't need my transcript, just Form 2 filled out and submitted by the graduate school from which I graduated. No problem contacted UT Austin that day and they mailed Form 2 to NYS on 12/13/2019. SWBD received it.

I reached out to SWBD on 3/14/2020, 9/22/2020, no replies. Finally, when all my clinical hours and supervision hours were submitted in April 2021, they told me I still needed to send my transcripts! Ugh. Transcripts sent. I was told it would take 4 - 6 weeks for transcripts to be reviewed by the education board. Nine months later they are not even replying to any of my messages.

I know I can't be the only person this is happening to. Why is the state making it so difficult for social workers to become licensed? It would be so much easier to just quit social work and become an unregulated life coach. -Anonymous seeking LCSW

Case 11

I can never get a higher person to speak with in the department. I work for the NYC DOE and no pandemic extensions were provided. Pearson vue was closed and when they opened, they were backlogged on testing site availability. Why is it that out of NYS you don’t need a license to work in the schools but meanwhile In NYS we do?

I am now terminated from my position and NYSED only provided teachers with extensions. NYSED is requesting license however we need to take the exam in order to achieve it. No support was provided and now they want social workers to do more in the field with the pandemic.

Who supports us? -Anonymous seeking LMSW

Case 12

I earned my master’s degree in social work in June 2017 from Touro College. I been working as a Social Worker with the elderly population for 4 years and 3 months. Since January 2018 I have been trying to pass my ASWB LMSW test and keep failing. I have tried private tutors, ASWB exam candidate books, and have bought numerous study materials and study books. I attended LMSW exam prep classes, LMSW boot camp, and still have failed the test in the end. I have failed the ASWB LMSW exam 6 times and spent thousands of dollars trying to pass this test and in purchasing study materials and tutors. I have contacted the ASWB many times requesting a change such as grandfathering or issuing the LMSW license to those who have taken the test several times and already work in the field and are unable to pass. Everything I study and prepare for the test is not even on the test. They asked you to study Social Work to pass the test then you take the test and what you study is not even on the test. They might have 2 or 4 concepts of what I study on the test and the rest is like a foreign language. I have been told to keep retaking the test. the only way I will get my LMSW license.

The test is extremely difficult, and I don't think a test should define my future. I consider myself a competent social worker. I think the NYSED Office of Professions should consider those unable to pass after a certain amount of time and issue them a license or come up with a better plan such as an appeal. For example, they could have the test candidate write an essay about Social Work, medication and diagnosis etc. and then get their license. There should be options not everyone is good at passing standardized test. I obtained my MSW degree to better myself and with hopes and dreams of passing my LMSW test and becoming a licensed Social worker. I consider myself a competent Social Worker and my work and my passion for the social work profession speaks volume of myself. I am very passionate about helping others and making a difference in the world.

I think the ASWB test is not designed for everyone. Most of the time the language they use on the test feels like a foreign language I never learned in school. I am requesting the ASWB to make changes to the test and for NYSED to issue a license based on my work experience and the number of times failed after taken the test. I believe there should be options for people like me. Having my NY LMSW license would open so many doors for me and I would be able to make an even bigger impact on people lives. Specifically as a mother of two special needs children, obtaining my LMSW will help me obtain the right certification to help my two children thrive in life, obtain my dream job and continue to advocate and help clients.

I have been trying for years in advocating and requesting for a change when it comes to the NY ASWB exam and license such. I even wrote to NY department of education, former governor Cuomo, and other organizations requesting a change, but no change has been made. Many years ago, they had the grandfathered clause in NY why can't they do that again for those unable to pass. -Anonymous seeking LMSW

Case 13

I graduated from SUNY Albany in May 2012 and obtained my LCSW in January 2017. My last supervisor submitted my experience record to the Office of the Professions in October 2020.

I waited for a response until 2/17/21 about the status, often calling to check that it was received and being sent for review. They stated it was not sent for review because I did not have 36 months of experience. I did not receive another response to my question, so I had to assume it was because I left my job mid-month on 7/17/2019. At this point I had accumulated another 6 months of experience, so I had my current supervisor submit paperwork for 9/1/20-2/28/21.

My only response from the Office of the professions is that I did not have the minimum of 400 hours in a 12-month period. It took almost a full year to get direct and clear documents telling me what I would need to do to earn LCSW-R licensure, which required the 400 hours in a 12-month period. I was working part-time (see below for Personal testimony) at Freedom First Psychological Services during COVID-19 restrictions and as such only accumulated 129 client contact hours in the year. All of my clients are children, and most cannot sustain a 45-minute session hour so I often do 30 minute sessions to accommodate and to continue to work on their goals. The Office of Professions has yet to answer my question or receive a response from David Hamilton about why none of the last year is being counted towards my experience record. There is a part-time equivalent listed in the LCSW page here, but not on the LCSW-R page. I believe there should be a part-time equivalent and I should be approved for the LCSW-R license because I have completed all education and experience requirements above and beyond. If I am required to meet 200 or 400 hours in a calendar year, I will be unable to achieve this important milestone and serve my clients in the best care possible as I have a full-time job and cannot work a minimum of 20 hours a week for my secondary job in the evenings or weekends.

I have dedicated myself to the profession of helping people and counseling has been my goal since I was 16 years old. When I finally became a counselor at Parsons Child & Family Center it wasn’t all what I expected. Working a 40-hour week trying to meet a minimum of 35 clients a week and having a caseload of over 100 was exhausting to say the least, but I did it. I was an excellent therapist and put my heart and soul into my work - until 2018.

I became severely burned out by the evening hours and long days, of helping clients with problems big and small, and coordinating with collaterals and parents left and right. In the span of a week, I didn’t sleep well at all and by the end of that week my supervisor granted me some much needed time off. Unfortunately, the damage was already done and I ended up in the hospital. When I returned home a week later, I was on disability leave for 2 months and my family faced significant financial hardship. I decided to return to work part-time in January 2019 because it was what I really wanted to do, and I was so close to earning my LCSW-R licensure. I worked part-time until July 2019 when I finally realized I couldn’t handle working in an outpatient clinic setting like that any longer and I took a job with Fidelis Care insurance doing case management over the phone.

But I missed counseling badly and after a few months break, I returned to private practice with Freedom First Psychological Services, PLLC in January 2020. Even throughout the pandemic and transitioning to telehealth services I love my jobs. I wouldn’t change a thing except now I’m being denied something I work the past 9 years to achieve, my LCSW-R licensure in New York State. I honestly believe the Office of Professions doesn’t want clinicians to achieve this licensure. They seem to be putting up every barrier they can to make it this elite club with overly strict standards and exclusivity. I am a White cisgendered female, the majority demographic for social workers I believe if my graduate school classes were any representation. If I can’t make it in this profession, what is that to say for other races, genders, ages, etc. They are poorly run with horrible response times and outdated paperwork.

I cannot work full-time as a clinician anymore. I know that from my experience. But I still have a lot to offer, and my clients can attest that they see the benefit from working with me. To deny a good hardworking clinician the opportunity to have full reimbursement from insurance is an absolute shame. I hope you will consider my case and do what is right for me and all social workers who are struggling to get LCSW-R approval now and in the future -Anonymous seeking LCSW-R

Case 14

To obtain the advanced clinical license in NY, applicants must have worked 10 years within the past 15 years. I have that experience but did not qualify because I obtained my LICSW in Massachusetts (advanced clinical) in 2009 and did not have 10 years of experience since that license was issued due to military moves. I have many additional years of experience with the entry level social work license in Massachusetts.

Subsequent to that decision of ineligibility, I was required to submit forms completed by my supervisors in 2000, 2001, 2005, 2006, 2007 to verify not only their supervision of me (these same forms were required and approved of by Massachusetts for my licensure there), but also the supervision they received before being awarded their own professional licenses. The supervisors were required to provide the settings where they received supervision, including the names and license numbers of the people who supervised them (one of my supervisors was nearing retirement in 2008 and had been licensed for decades at that point and did not have the information required on the forms for me in 2021).

In addition to the economic impact this policy has had on my household income, it has resulted in diminished self-esteem and a sense of uselessness. While I strive to make the best of the situation, it boggles my mind that Massachusetts licensed me to provide services to military members and their families as a MFLC (Military & Family Life Consultant) for 4 years, where I received professional accolades, and I was further licensed to provide Family Advocacy services at Ramstein Air Base in Germany, yet New York says I am not qualified to provide social work services as a MFLC in NY, which requires the advanced professional license. -Former applicant for LCSW in New York

Case 15

In over 20 years of social work practice, I have never encountered such a complete mess of an organization as NYSED's Social Work Regulatory Board. I have held a clinical social work licenses in 3 states prior to NY and have no problems getting myself licensed and able to practice in any of them.

I actually took the time to pull up the NY State regulations and statutes and highlighted them for Mr. Hamilton to make my point but was completely ignored. Mr. Hamilton is intentionally taking the narrowest of interpretations of what is Insurance Law not Clinical Practice regulations to prevent any clinical experience outside of NY State from counting towards licensure, even though the regulation itself states otherwise. This is not only acting like a massive disincentive for experienced clinical social workers to come practice in NY because we will have to take lower payment rates from insurance companies that we are already are at the top of reimbursement rates of, but it is also forcing us into a period of redundant supervision that is completely unnecessary.

This does nothing for the constituents of NY state that utilize social work services, it does not help the social workers of NY state gain fair access to insurance reimbursement, the only entity in NY state that is benefiting from Mr. Hamilton’s policies is the Insurance Industry of NY state.

I believe the problem lies with the Regulatory Board of Social Work at NYSED, the way it is making social work policy and how it is being run by Mr. Hamilton. Mr. Hamilton has no clinical education, Mr. Hamilton has no clinical experience, Mr. Hamilton is not a PhD of social work. Mr. Hamilton is an LMSW, a generalist practitioner, and he is responsible for creating and implementing the very definition of clinical practice for social workers in the state of New York, and has been for almost 20 years. -Anonymous LCSW

 

 

Education Law: Article 130 General Provisions

Education Law:
Last Updated November 21, 2014

Article 130 General Provisions
Subarticle 2, State Management
§6508 Assistance by state boards for the professions.

2. Each board, or its committee on licensing, shall select or prepare examinations, may conduct oral and practical examinations and reexaminations, shall fix passing grades, and assist the department in other licensing matters as prescribed by the board of regents.

Education Law: NYS Social Work: Laws, Rules & Regulations: Article 154

Education Law:
Current as of 2020

NYS Social Work: Laws, Rules & Regulations: Article 154
§ 7702. Authorized practice and the use of the titles "licensed master social worker" and "licensed clinical social worker".

1. In addition to the licensed social work services included in subdivisions one and two of section seventy-seven hundred one of this article, licensed master social workers and licensed clinical social workers may perform the following social work functions that do not require a license under this article, including but not limited to:

a. Serve as a community organizer, planner, or administrator for social service programs in any setting.

b. Provide supervision and/or consultation to individuals, groups, institutions, and agencies.

c. Serve as a faculty member or instructor in an educational setting.

d. Plan and/or conduct research projects and program evaluation studies.

e. Maintain familiarity with both professional and self-help systems in the community in order to assist the client in those services when necessary.

f. Provide advice and guidance and assist individuals or groups with difficult day to day problems such as finding employment, locating sources of assistance, and organizing community groups to work on a specific problem.

g. Consult with other agencies on problems and cases served in common and coordinating services among agencies or providing case management.

h. Conduct data gathering on social problems.

i. Serve as an advocate for those clients or groups of clients whose needs are not being met by available programs or by a specific agency.

j. Assess, evaluate, and formulate a plan of action based on client need.

k. Provide training to community groups, agencies, and other professionals.

l. Provide administrative supervision.

m. Provide peer services.

n. Collect basic information, gathering of demographic data, and informal observations, screening and referral used for general eligibility for a program or service and determining the functional status of an individual for the purpose of determining the need for services.

2. Practice of "licensed master social work" and use of the title "licensed master social worker" and designation "LMSW".

a. Only a person licensed or exempt under this article shall practice "licensed master social work" as defined in subdivision one of section seventy-seven hundred one of this article.

b. Only a person licensed pursuant to subdivision one of section seventy-seven hundred four of this article shall use the title "licensed master social worker" or the designation "LMSW".

3. Practice of "licensed clinical social work" and use of the title "licensed clinical social worker" and designation "LCSW".

a. Only a person licensed or exempt under this article shall practice "licensed clinical social work" as defined in subdivision two of section seventy-seven hundred one of this article.

b. Only a person licensed pursuant to subdivision two of section seventy-seven hundred four of this article shall use the title "licensed clinical social worker" or the designation "LCSW".

§ 7704. Requirements for a license. (2)(c)
To qualify for a license as a "licensed clinical social worker", an applicant shall fulfill the following requirements:

c. Experience: have at least three years full-time supervised post-graduate clinical social work experience in diagnosis, psychotherapy, and assessment based treatment plans, or its part-time equivalent, obtained over a continuous period not to exceed six years, under the supervision, satisfactory to the department, of a psychiatrist, a licensed psychologist, or a licensed clinical social worker in a facility setting or other supervised settings approved by the department. Satisfactory experience obtained in an entity operating under a waiver issued by the department pursuant to section sixty-five hundred three-a of this title may be accepted by the department, notwithstanding that such experience may have been obtained prior to the effective date of such section sixty-five hundred three-a and/or prior to the entity having obtained a waiver. The department may, for good cause shown, accept satisfactory experience that was obtained in a setting that would have been eligible for a waiver but which has not obtained a waiver from the department or experience that was obtained in good faith by the applicant under the belief that appropriate authorization had been obtained for the experience, provided that such experience meets all other requirements for acceptable experience;

§7706. Exempt persons. (5)(c)

Nothing contained in this article shall be construed to: Prevent or prohibit the performance of activities and services within the scope of practice of licensed master social work or licensed clinical social work as defined in section seventy-seven hundred one of this article by the following:

a. students who are enrolled in a baccalaureate of social work or professional graduate level social work program of study, and which are required to perform as part of the field work component of that program, services provided under the supervision of a field work supervisor approved by the program;

Insurance Law

Insurance Law:
Current as of January 1, 2021

§ 3221.

(1)(4)(D) (1)(4) (A) Every insurer delivering a group policy or issuing a group policy for delivery, in this state, that provides reimbursement for psychiatric or psychological services or for the diagnosis and treatment of mental health conditions, however defined in such policy, by physicians, psychiatrists or psychologists, shall make available and if requested by the policyholder provide the same coverage to insureds for such services when performed by a licensed clinical social worker, within the lawful scope of his or her practice, who is licensed pursuant to article one hundred fifty-four of the education law. Written notice of the availability of such coverage shall be delivered to the policyholder prior to inception of such group policy and annually thereafter, except that this notice shall not be required where a policy covers two hundred or more employees or where the benefit structure was the subject of collective bargaining affecting persons who are employed in more than one state.

(D) In addition to the requirements of subparagraph (A) of this paragraph, every insurer issuing a group policy for delivery in this state where the policy provides reimbursement to insureds for psychiatric or psychological services or for the diagnosis and treatment of mental health conditions, however defined in such policy, by physicians, psychiatrists or psychologists, shall provide the same coverage to insureds for such services when performed by a licensed clinical social worker, within the lawful scope of his or her practice, who is licensed pursuant to subdivision two of section seven thousand seven hundred four of the education law and in addition shall have either: (i) three or more additional years experience in psychotherapy, which for the purposes of this subparagraph shall mean the use of verbal methods in interpersonal relationships with the intent of assisting a person or persons to modify attitudes and behavior that are intellectually, socially or emotionally maladaptive, under supervision, satisfactory to the state board for social work, in a facility, licensed or incorporated by an appropriate governmental department, providing services for diagnosis or treatment of mental health conditions; (ii) three or more additional years experience in psychotherapy under the supervision, satisfactory to the state board for social work, of a psychiatrist, a licensed and registered psychologist or a licensed clinical social worker qualified for reimbursement pursuant to subsection (e) of this section, or (iii) a combination of the experience specified in items (i) and (ii) of this subparagraph totaling three years, satisfactory to the state board for social work.

Current as of January 1, 2021

§ 4303. (2)(i)(n)

(2) where the contract provides coverage for physician services benefits for outpatient care provided by a psychiatrist or psychologist licensed to practice in this state, a licensed clinical social worker who meets the requirements of subsection (n) of this section, a nurse practitioner licensed to practice on this state, or professional corporation or university faculty practice corporation thereof.

(i) A medical expense indemnity corporation or health service corporation that provides coverage for physicians, psychiatrists or psychologists for psychiatric or psychological services or for the diagnosis and treatment of mental health conditions, however defined in such contract, shall make available and if requested by all persons holding individual contracts in a group whose premiums are paid by a remitting agent or by the contract holder in the case of a group contract issued pursuant to section four thousand three hundred five of this article, provide the same coverage for such services when performed by a licensed clinical social worker, within the lawful scope of his or her practice, who is licensed pursuant to article one hundred fifty-four of the education law. The state board for social work shall maintain a list of all licensed clinical social workers qualified for reimbursement under this subsection. Such coverage shall be made available at the inception of all new contracts and, with respect to all other contracts, at any anniversary date subject to evidence of insurability. Written notice of the availability of such coverage shall be delivered to the group remitting agent or group contract holder prior to inception of such contract and annually thereafter, except that this notice shall not be required where a contract covers two hundred or more employees or where the benefit structure was the subject of collective bargaining affecting persons who are employed in more than one state.

(n) In addition to the requirements of subsection (i) of this section, every health service or medical expense indemnity corporation issuing a group contract pursuant to this section or a group remittance contract for delivery in this state which contract provides reimbursement to subscribers or physicians, psychiatrists or psychologists for psychiatric or psychological services or for the diagnosis and treatment of mental health conditions, however defined in such contract, must provide the same coverage to persons covered under the group contract for such services when performed by a licensed clinical social worker, within the lawful scope of his or her practice, who is licensed pursuant to subdivision two of section seven thousand seven hundred four of the education law and in addition shall have either (i) three or more additional years experience in psychotherapy, which for the purposes of this subsection shall mean the use of verbal methods in interpersonal relationships with the intent of assisting a person or persons to modify attitudes and behavior which are intellectually, socially or emotionally maladaptive, under supervision, satisfactory to the state board for social work, in a facility, licensed or incorporated by an appropriate governmental department, providing services for diagnosis or treatment of mental health conditions, or (ii) three or more additional years experience in psychotherapy under the supervision, satisfactory to the state board for social work, of a psychiatrist, a licensed and registered psychologist or a licensed clinical social worker qualified for reimbursement pursuant to subsection (i) of this section, or (iii) a combination of the experience specified in paragraphs (i) and (ii) totaling three years, satisfactory to the state board for social work. The state board for social work shall maintain a list of all licensed clinical social workers qualified for reimbursement under this subsection.

Regulations of the Commissioner: Part 74 Social Work

Regulations of the Commissioner: Part 74 Social Work
Current through December 31, 2020
§74.3. Experience requirement for licensure as a licensed clinical social worker.

a. An applicant for licensure as a licensed clinical social worker shall meet the experience requirement for licensure by submitting documentation of three years of full-time supervised clinical social work experience in diagnosis, psychotherapy, and assessment-based treatment plans, or the part-time equivalent, or a combination of full-time and part-time supervised clinical social work experience in diagnosis, psychotherapy, and assessment-based treatment plans, completed over a period not to exceed six years, in accordance with the requirements of section 74.6 of this Part. For purposes of this subdivision, the full-time experience shall consist of not less than 2,000 client contact hours over a continuous period of at least 36 months and not to exceed six years.

1. Experience obtained in New York must be obtained as a licensed master social worker (LMSW) or limited permit holder, except the department may, in limited circumstances, accept other experience where an applicant demonstrates that such experience was obtained in an authorized setting and under the supervision of a qualified supervisor. Experience obtained in another jurisdiction must be obtained after the applicant completes the master's degree program in social work required for licensure in licensed clinical social work, as prescribed in section 74.1(c) of this Part, and such experience must be obtained in a setting authorized in such jurisdiction to provide such services and be under the supervision of a qualified supervisor acceptable to the department.

4. The supervisor(s) shall verify the applicant’s supervised experience to the department on forms prescribed by the department. The department may request additional information or clarification in regard to the supervisor’s qualifications or the authority of the setting to provide professional services. In the event a supervisor is deceased or not available, the verification may be submitted by a licensed colleague who attests to the name and qualifications of the supervisor, the dates of supervised experience, client contact hours and supervision hours and other information required by the department to evaluate the applicant’s supervised experience.

 

§74.5 Authorization qualifying licensed clinical social workers for certain insurance reimbursement.

c. In order to fulfill the requirements of Insurance Law, section 3221(l)(4)(D) or 4303(n), the licensed clinical social worker shall complete at least 2,400 client contact hours of experience in psychotherapy over a period of not less than three years after licensure as a licensed clinical social worker, with not less than 400 client contact hours in any one year, in accordance with the following criteria:

1. Acceptable setting. The experience shall be completed in a setting acceptable to the department, as described in subdivision (a) of section 74.6 of this Part, which may include a practice owned or operated by the applicant.

2. Supervision of experience. The licensed clinical social worker shall submit for review and approval by the State Board for Social Work, on forms prescribed by the department, a plan for supervised experience that will meet the requirements of this paragraph. The plan shall be submitted to the State Board for Social Work before the licensed clinical social worker commences the supervised experience requirement under this section.

i. The plan for supervision shall specify:

a. individual or group consultation of no less than two hours per month; or

b. enrollment in a program authorized to provide psychotherapy offered by an institution of higher education or by a psychotherapy institute chartered by the Board of Regents.

3. An applicant who started the experience to qualify for insurance reimbursement prior to January 1,2011 may submit any experience obtained prior to licensure as a licensed clinical social worker provided that such experience, in the determination of the department, satisfies the experience requirements for such reimbursement and is obtained after the experience used to satisfy the experience requirements for licensure as a licensed clinical social worker. Experience to qualify for insurance reimbursement commenced on after January 1, 2011 shall be obtained only after licensure as a licensed clinical social worker.

 

§74.6 Supervision requirements for certain qualified individuals providing clinical social work services.

e. Verification of the experience. The supervisor shall be responsible for maintaining records of the client contact hours in diagnosis, psychotherapy and assessment-based treatment planning and supervision hours provided to the qualified individual. Upon request by the department, such records shall be provided by the supervisor.

§74.9 Licensure by endorsement of certain licensed clinical social workers.

An applicant seeking endorsement of a license in clinical social work issued by another state, country or territory shall present evidence of:

a. age, the applicant shall be at least 21 years of age;

b. licensure by another jurisdiction in clinical social work;

c. completion of a master’s degree in social work with clinical content that qualified the applicant for licensure as a licensed clinical social worker in the other jurisdiction;

d. completion of supervised experience in clinical social work and psychotherapy that qualified the applicant for initial licensure in the other jurisdiction;

e. passage of an examination acceptable to the department for the practice of clinical social work, as defined in section 74.2 of this Part;

f. at least ten years of experience in clinical social work satisfactory to the State Board for Social Work, within the 15 years immediately preceding the application for licensure by endorsement in New York;

g. completion of coursework in the identification and reporting of suspected child abuse and neglect or the exemption from such coursework, as specified in section 6507(3) of the Education Law;

h. good moral character as determined by the department; and

i. acceptable licensure and discipline status in each jurisdiction in which the applicant holds a professional license.