Board of Social Work
ASWB testing update
April 27, 2020
The Board of Social Work has granted the authority to the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) to extend the testing expiration dates and deadlines as needed to accommodate for the testing site closures and the inevitable backlog as the tests resume. Please see the information below from the ASWB as it pertains to Pearson VUE testing. For candidates impacted by closures related to COVID-19:
- Our initial focus is on those whose appointments were canceled/rescheduled by Pearson VUE and state approval to test expires before May 1, 2020.
- Candidates still eligible to test after April 30, 2020 are already finding it difficult to get appointments in May, June and possibly beyond. We anticipate that will continue to be an issue even after Pearson VUE resumes testing and begins to clear the backlog.
- Remember, Pearson VUE administers exams for many, many clients so all are trying to get test dates. On top of that, we’re entering graduation season which equals high volume testing every year.
- Our next focus is registrations expiring after April 30, 2020, beginning with those expiring in May, then June, and so forth as necessary. With authorization to extend approvals on behalf of your board, ASWB will have the flexibility to extend registrations where necessary through 12/31/2020. Other than deciding to extend through 12/31/2020, we have not defined a parameter for this since there’s no way to know when the backlog will clear. It is likely that that will vary depending on location. We want to be as flexible as possible, address candidate needs expeditiously, ease the burden on our membership, and avoid updating registrations more than once.
We’re updating the information above as the situation evolves. Initially we were focused on those canceled through April 15.
There is some good news. Although testing has been suspended until May 1 in Pearson VUE-owned test centers in the United States and Canada, a subset of these centers has been opened on a limited schedule for testing essential service providers. Essential service providers now include social workers in addition to nurses and emergency medical responders among other health care workers. Availability is first come, first served. ASWB candidates must schedule their appointments as explained in the FAQs about testing for essential services (https://home.pearsonvue.com/essential-services-faqs).
Accelerated Temporary License
April 20, 2020
Pursuant to Governor Northam’s Executive Order No. 57 (effective April 17, 2020), a clinical social worker with an active license issued by another state may be issued an accelerated temporary license by endorsement as a health care practitioner of the same type for which such license is issued in another state upon submission of an application and information requested by the applicable licensing board and the board's verification that the applicant's license issued by another state is active in good standing and there are no current reports in the United States Department of Health and Human Services National Practitioner Data Bank. Such temporary license shall expire ninety (90) days after the state of emergency ends. During such time the practitioner must seek a full Virginia license or transition patients to Virginia-licensed practitioners.
Health care practitioners with an active license issued by another state may provide continuity of care to their current patients who are Virginia residents through telehealth services. However, if they want to acquire new patients, they must apply for full licensure in Virginia or an Accelerated Temporary License as indicated above.
You can access the applications here: Temporary Licensed Clinical Social Worker Application
Update from Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB)
March 23, 2020
Please read an update from ASWB about Pearson Vue testing.
March 19, 2020
The Office of Civil Rights (OCR) in the US Department of Health and Human Services is relaxing its enforcement of HIPAA regulations governing telehealth during the COVID-19 National Emergency. Please read the notice at this link.
Because this is a federal announcement, we are not in a position to answer questions or offer clarification on this issue.
COVID-19 Update from the Board on test centers, CE and more
March 18, 2020
We have received additional questions, and felt the need to provide some clarification on the following issues:.
1. Starting Tuesday, March 17, 2020 Pearson VUE-owned test centers in all U.S. and Canada locations will suspend test delivery until April 16, 2020. Please visit ASWB's website at www.aswb.org regularly for future updates. The Board will let you know that you have been approved to test, but we will not register you to test until the ASWB testing sites are up and running. We will then send you an email to let you know that you are officially approved to test through ASWB and can begin the registration process with ASWB.
For those of you still waiting to test, please follow ASWB's guidance. The time that the testing sites are down will not count against the two years you have to take and pass the exam, since the exam was not available.
2. Although you have a year extension to complete your CEs, you still must renew your license by June 30, 2020.
3. There are no restrictions on the number of continuing education hours that can be obtained online or in person.
4. Along with the Board of Social Work's guidance document on Technology-Assisted Therapy and the Use of Social Media (140-3), the Board of Psychology also has a useful guidance document and many of the same principles apply which can be found here. These documents are just guidance as the Regulations do not prohibit telehealth. Just please remember that the standards of practice apply regardless of the modality. More guidance on this issue will be forthcoming with respect to HIPPA compliance and reimbursement.
5. Virginia Code § 54.1-3706 at the Laws and Regulations page requires that "In order to engage in the practice of social work, it shall be necessary to hold a license." Additionally, Virginia Code § 54.1-3701 at the Laws and Regulations page outlines exemptions to the licensure requirements, such as working in an exempt setting, or the activities or services of a student pursuing licensure. At this point in time the Governor's Executive Order 51 does not waive the licensure requirement if you do not fit into one of the exempt categories.
The safest course of action is to pursue licensure in Virginia. If you have a valid license in another jurisdiction, you may obtain a license in Virginia via the endorsement process, which has a turn-around time of less than 30 days (usually a week if it is a complete application). You can find out more about this process by visiting the Board of Social Work forms page to find the appropriate application and forms.
That being said, the Board remains more concerned with continuity of care rather than unlicensed practice. So, if you have an established client relationship with a Virginia resident, the Board does not plan to discipline you for unlicensed practice during the time of the Emergency Order. For example, if you are a Maryland LCSW and a Virginia resident comes to your practice in person, and now cannot or will not come to your office due to the recommendation to quarantine, then the Board would not pursue disciplinary action against the Maryland licensee for practicing telehealth with that established client in Virginia. However, you may not add new clients without a license during this time of emergency.
It should also be noted that if a complaint were made to the Board for unlicensed practice, we would be obligated to investigate. The safest course of action at this time, is to hold a Virginia license. If this information changes and the Governor waives the licensure requirement, we will certainly update the Board of Social Work website at that time.
COVID-19 Information from the Board of Social Work
March 16, 2020
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Board has received many questions from anxious Licensees and Supervisees in Social Work. We are sharing the answers we have at this time, and promise to continue to send out emails and simultaneously update our website as we learn more. At this point we have received the most questions regarding telehealth and Continuing Education (CE) requirements for renewal.
In response to telehealth, any licensee or Supervisee in Social Work can practice telehealth within Virginia. You will need to contact another state to determine their rules and whether that state would allow for you to practice into that state without a license from that state, as we cannot offer guidance on another state's laws and regulations. Virginia's laws and regulations are silent as to whether Supervisees in Social Work may provide telehealth services, but it is not prohibited at this point. Please see the Guidance Document 140-3 at the link provided for more information https://www.dhp.virginia.gov/social/social_guidelines.htm.
As to those concerned about completing the CE requirements for renewal, the Board will grant a one-year extension to all licensees. As a result, unless you are newly licensed and not required to complete continuing education requirements this year, each LCSW will have until June 30, 2021 to complete the required 30 hours of CE, and each LBSW or LMSW will have until June 30, 2021 to complete the required 15 hours of CE. Please note that each LCSW is still required to complete the required 30 hours of CE for the June 30, 2022 renewal, and each LBSW and LMSW is still required to complete the 15 hours of CE by the June 30, 2022 renewal, as well. Also, please note, that this extension does not apply to those individuals who must complete CEs as part of a Board order. If you have questions regarding these requirements, please contact your Compliance Manager.
The Board may be short staffed at times as many will be required to telework, so the best way to reach the Board with questions is to send an email. Email addresses are listed on the Board website. Thank you for your patience and please stay healthy.
Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Updates
Published on Feb. 28, 2020
The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) is monitoring an outbreak of respiratory illness, called coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). VDH has information on the Coronavirus Disease for both healthcare professionals and the general public which is updated regularly, as new information becomes available. Read more here.