Dear Colleague Letter - Clarification of Existing Professional Requirements for Early Intervention Providers
As lead agency for the Early Intervention Program (EIP), the New York State Department of Health (Department) is responsible for establishing appropriate professional requirements for the EIP based on any State-approved or recognized certification, licensing, registration, or other comparable requirements that apply to the profession or discipline.1 Public Health regulation 10NYCRR69-4.1(aj) specifies the professionals that are considered qualified personnel for the purposes of the EIP. The Department relies upon the New York State Education Department's (SED) licensure, registration, and certification process to qualify professionals for the EIP, with the exception of those disciplines in early intervention for which there is no State license, certification, or registration (e.g., certified low vision specialist, orientation and mobility specialist).
In March 2000, the Department issued a guidance document to clarify a number of issues with respect to qualified personnel under the EIP, including the acceptable qualifications for special education teachers for purposes of the EIP. Based on discussions with SED staff, the Department is revising its standards related to certain qualified personnel under the EIP.
This letter is to inform you of these revised standards for certain qualified personnel. These revisions are effective immediately and are being used by the Department to identify the individuals who may provide services in the EIP.
1 34 CFR 303.361
New York State Teacher Certifications
The March 2000 memorandum on qualified personnel stated that in addition to special education teachers with permanent certification, a special education teacher with a valid certificate of qualification or a provisional certificate who does not yet have a permanent teaching certification is qualified to provide early intervention special instruction services in accordance with Public Health Law Section 2541(7)(h)(ii). No other teacher certifications (e.g., temporary certificates) were recognized as qualified personnel under the EIP.
Special education instruction goals and objectives focus on promoting the child's learning through special instruction services and are distinguished from professional services such as diagnosis, evaluation, and treatment, which must be provided by licensed or otherwise authorized professionals.
Certificates of qualification are no longer valid as of August 31, 2003. In addition, effective February 2, 2004, SED replaced provisional and permanent teaching certificates with a revised certification structure for classroom teachers—initial certificates (entry level) and professional (advanced level) certificates. SED has informed us that for teachers whose certification were effective prior to February 2, 2004, provisional and permanent certificates remain valid, although a provisional certificate is valid for only five years from the effective date on the certificate. Permanent certification must be obtained within that time period to continue to be considered qualified personnel under the EIP unless the teacher is eligible for a time extension or renewal of the provisional certificate. Special education teachers with either the initial or professional certificates issued under the revised structure or the provisional or permanent certificates issued under the former structure are recognized by the EIP as qualified personnel if the certificates remain valid and have not expired.
SED also established the following new grade-specific teaching certificate titles for special education teachers:
- Students with Disabilities, Birth – Grade 2
- Students with Disabilities, Grades 1 – 6
- Students with Disabilities, Grades 5 – 9 (generalist or specialist)
- Students with Disabilities, Grades 7 – 12 (subject specific).
Special education teachers receiving their initial or professional certification on or after February 2, 2004, must have the Students with Disabilities, Birth – Grade 2 certificate to be considered qualified personnel under the EIP. The certificate specifies the certification title (e.g., Special Education or Students with Disabilities [Birth – Grade 2]), the form (e.g., provisional, initial, permanent, or professional) and the effective date. Initial and provisional certificates are valid for five years from the effective date of the certificate unless SED has granted a time extension or renewal.
SED made changes to other teacher certification titles effective February 2, 2004. Certification titles and certificates issued prior to February 2004 will continue to be recognized as qualified personnel under EIP if the certificate remains valid.
Prior to February 2, 2004, SED issued the following certificate titles:
- Teacher of the Deaf and Hearing Impaired
- Teacher of the Blind and Partially Sighted
- Teacher of Speech and Hearing Handicapped.
Individuals with valid permanent or provisional certifications in these titles will continue to be recognized as qualified personnel under the EIP.
Since February 2, 2004, SED has issued the following certificate titles:
- Teacher of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (all grades)
- Teacher of the Blind and Visually Impaired (all grades)
- Teacher of Speech and Language Disabilities (all grades).
Individuals with valid initial or professional certificates in these titles will also be recognized as meeting the standard for qualified personnel for the EIP.
Internship Certificate, Supplementary Certificate, and Conditional Initial Certificate
These certificates are issued by SED in specific situations to candidates who have not yet met the requirements for initial teaching certificates. The Department and SED have determined that it is appropriate to recognize individuals with internship certificates, supplementary certificates, or conditional initial certificates as qualified personnel to provide special instruction services for the EIP in the circumstances described below. This applies to the following teacher certificate titles: Students with Disabilities, Birth - Grade 2; Teacher of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing; Teacher of the Blind and Visually Impaired; and Teacher of Speech and Language Disabilities. Information regarding the specific requirements for each of these certifications is posted on the SED Web site at www.highered.nysed.gov/tcert. The Department and SED have determined that it is NOT appropriate to recognize individuals with Transition B Certificates.
An internship certificate is issued by SED at the request of a college or university to an individual who is enrolled in a graduate program of teacher education, has completed at least half of the semester hour requirements for the program, and has guaranteed employment in a school district. The certificate is valid for up to two years and requires that the school in which the internship is served be identified and that appropriate supervision be provided. Certificates are maintained electronically by SED in its database of certified teachers or TEACH. No actual paper certificate is generated.
Effective January 2005, a supplementary certificate may be issued by SED to certified classroom teachers to enable them to teach in different subject areas where shortages exist. Supplementary certificates are valid for three years and require that the individual be employed and provided support by the employer.
Conditional Initial Certificates
SED has reciprocal interstate contracts with more than 30 other states and jurisdictions. An individual from one of the contract states or jurisdictions may be eligible for a two-year nonrenewable conditional initial certificate. The Department has determined that holders of such certificates are qualified personnel for the EIP provided that such certifications are in areas designated as qualified personnel to provide services for the EIP.
Only those State-approved early intervention providers that also are approved by SED under Section 4410 of the Education Law can employ individuals with either internship, supplementary, or conditional initial certificates to provide early intervention special instruction services. The same corporate entity must own and operate both the early intervention provider agency and the 4410 program. Therefore, the same Department- or SED-approved EI agency must be approved by SED under Section 4410 of the Education Law and must be identified by the same employer tax identification number. The following conditions also apply:
- Individuals with internship, supplementary, or conditional initial certificates can provide early intervention special instruction services on-site at the school operated by the 4410 provider where the individual is supervised by a certified teacher while providing these services, as approved by SED.
- Individuals with internship, supplementary, or conditional initial certificates can provide early intervention special instruction services in a home-based setting where the individual is under the direct, on-site supervision and oversight of a certified teacher.
- The supervising teacher must meet the definition of qualified personnel in the EIP.
- The supervising teacher must assume professional responsibility for the services provided under his or her direction and monitor the need for continued services.
- The supervising teacher must spend as much time as necessary directly supervising services to ensure children/families are receiving services in a safe and efficient manner in accordance with accepted standards of practice.
- The supervising teacher must review and co-sign daily notes, periodic progress reports, and evaluation reports required by the EIP.
To permit supervising teachers to adequately fulfill their supervisory obligations and ensure quality care, the agency must allow for the following:
- Supervisory ratios that are in keeping with recognized teaching practices.
- The time required to appropriately supervise candidates who have not yet met the requirements for initial teaching certificates.
Questions pertaining to teacher certification in New York State should be directed to SED's Office of Teaching Initiatives at (518) 474-3901 or at email@example.com. TEACH, the database of certified teachers maintained by SED, can be accessed at http://www.highered.nysed.gov/tcert/ to verify the current status of an individual's certification.
Qualified Personnel and the Delivery of Speech Language Therapy Services
Only speech-language pathologists licensed according to Education Law Article 159 or individuals otherwise authorized by Title VIII of the Education Law (such as individuals completing their nine months of supervised experience to satisfy the requirements as a licensed speech-language pathologist) may provide early intervention speech-language pathology services including evaluations, provided that such pathologists and individuals are competent to provide such services. Unlicensed individuals will not be considered to be "authorized" to provide professional services to children in the EIP solely because they are employed by an approved 4410 program that is also an EIP provider.
SED has informed the Department that Teachers of the Deaf and Hearing Handicapped, Teachers of the Deaf and Hearing Impaired, and Teachers of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing cannot provide speech-language pathology treatment services to children in the EIP even when supervised by a speech-language pathologist. Based on this directive from SED, the waiver process outlined in the March 2000 memorandum on qualified personnel has been discontinued. Speech services must be provided by a speech-language pathologist or individuals otherwise authorized by Title VIII of the Education Law. A speech-language pathologist is a licensed health care professional who diagnoses, evaluates, and treats disorders of speech, voice, swallowing, and/or language.
However, it is permissible for Teachers of the Speech and Hearing Handicapped or Teachers of Speech and Language Disabilities to provide special instruction to children in the EIP (i.e., special education speech and language instruction whose goals and objectives will focus on communication development to promote the child's learning). Such special instruction, however, must not be used as a replacement for treatment for children with delays that can only be addressed by speech therapy delivered by a speech-language pathologist to treat disorders of speech, voice, swallowing, and/or language. The Department will incorporate into its future protocol for provider monitoring a review of special instruction services delivered to children with communication delays to assure that such services are appropriate.
Social Worker Titles
Certified social workers licensed according to Education Law Article 154 have always been recognized as qualified personnel under the EIP. On September 1, 2004, revisions to Article 154 of the Education Law, Sections 7700-7709, became effective, establishing two professional titles for the practice of social work: Licensed Master Social Worker and Licensed Clinical Social Worker. Licensed master social workers and licensed clinical social workers are qualified personnel in the EIP if they are acting within their respective scopes of practice and are competent to provide the service in question. Information regarding scope of practice for each of these titles is posted on the SED Web site at http://www.op.nysed.gov/prof/sw/
The important distinction between licensed master social workers and licensed clinical social workers is that only licensed clinical social workers can independently "diagnose mental, emotional, behavioral, developmental, and addictive disorders, impairments, and disabilities within a psychosocial framework on the basis of their similar and unique characteristics consistent with accepted classification systems." Licensed clinical social workers, licensed master social workers under the supervision of a licensed clinical social worker, or licensed psychologists or psychiatrists can diagnose children in the EIP, provide psychotherapeutic interventions, or implement assessment-based treatment plans for children in the EIP if they are competent to provide such services.
Questions concerning the change in licensure and scope of practice of social workers under Article 154 of the Education Law should be directed to David Hamilton, Executive Secretary for the State Board for Social Work, Office of the Professions, State Education Department at (518) 474-3817, ext. 450, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We strongly recommend that early intervention officials contact the Department directly with any concerns about the status of professionals delivering early intervention services prior to taking any action against a provider whose status as qualified personnel may be questionable. In addition, the Department should be notified regarding any concerns related to these changes in the use of qualified personnel under the EIP, including concerns that you have regarding shortages of special education teachers or other professionals needed to provide EIP services to children in your community. The Department will continue to work collaboratively with SED on qualified personnel issues to address existing and emerging concerns in the field. If you have any questions or concerns of this nature, please contact Margaret Adeigbo of my staff at (518) 473-7016. General questions about qualified personnel under the EIP should be directed to Training and Technical Assistance Unit staff at the above number.
Bradley Hutton, M.P.H.
Bureau of Early Intervention