Albany Legislative Session 2014:
NYASP's mission is to serve children, their families, and the school community by promoting psychological well-being, excellence in education, and sensitivity to diversity through best practices in school psychology. Long-term strategic planning, including legislative priorities, is based upon the core elements of this Mission Statement. On an annual basis, NYASP reviews the legislative priorities of the Association, based upon long-term goals, as well as immediate needs or opportunities.
In general, the Legislative Session in Albany convenes from January to June of each year. Annually, Legislators collaborate with the Governor to develop a state budget. This task dominates the focus of our elected officials. The budget process usually concludes in early April. While other pieces of legislation are discussed during the budget development, many legislators remain focused on budget related items. This leaves a very short window of time, from mid-April to the end of June, to accomplish other legislative items.
NYASP 2014 Legislative Priorities
1. Expand Mental Health Services in the Schools
2. Increase funding for services provided by school psychologists.
3. Advocate for a Framework for Safe and Successful Schools, which balances physical safety with psychological safety.
4. Expand settings where school psychology is practiced.
NYASP continue to pursue the long-term legislative goal of licensure of school psychologists to practice SCHOOL psychology outside the school setting. School psychology is a specialty area of psychology, with unique training and experience requirements. The "school" in school psychology denotes the uniqueness of the practice, not necessarily the setting. School psychologists, with their expertise in psycho-educational assessment, data-based decision making, educationally related psychotherapy and preventive services, consultative services to parents, educators, and others involved in the education of a child, as well as the development of educationally related programs, can serve the public in a broader capacity beyond the school setting.
NYASP has worked with key legislators in Albany to advance legislation that would provide for a focused scope of practice licensure. The bills are supported by many educational groups, including the school superintendents' association, school boards association, school business officials association, school administrators' association, special education administrators' association, school counselor's association and a coalition for children with special needs. There is a recognition that this licensure is the first step in restoring over $100 million in Medicaid reimbursement for school-based psychological services to schools throughout NY. Currently, because school psychologists are limited by certification to only work in the schools, this Medicaid funding is unavailable to schools.
Scope of practice legislation is difficult to accomplish in the current environment within the NYS Legislature. There is a reluctance to address many of the professions seeking licensure, including school psychologists. However, progress continues to be made through ongoing conversations with key legislative leaders, NYSED, and NYSED's Office of the Professions. Of particular note were key conversations by the Program Directors and faculty members of the school psychology training programs throughout NY held with the top legislative leaders. These professionals helped the legislators understand the nature of school psychology training, the expertise that school psychologists possess in mental health and educational issues, and the capacity to practice in a variety of settings.