SLP and Audiologist Legislative Licensure Summary – August 2016

Current Status

  • Non-school based SLPs in Vermont who work in settings other than schools (hospitals, private practice, skilled nursing facilities, etc.) need to obtain a license only from the Office of Professional Regulation.  School based SLPs in Vermont need to go through both the Office of Professional Regulation and the Agency of Education to obtain two licenses to work in a school.
    • Office of Professional Regulation (OPR):
      • Transitional period; No charge for initial OPR license for SLPs already holding an educational endorsement by the VT Agency of Education;  2-year term
      • Renewal; after initial 2-year term; $100 renewal fee;  
      • Initial license application for a new grad or a new to Vermont SLP; fee $100
      • OPR website link
    • Agency of Education (AOE)
      • Level I license, 3-year term, $200
      • Level II License (those SLPs who have worked under an AOE educational endorsement for 3 or more years), 5-year term, $300
      • AOE website link

Historical Perspective and 2015 Legislative Session

  • Since October 1, 2004, all SLP’s and Audiologists practicing in Vermont were required to be licensed by the Vermont Agency of Education (AOE) (26 V.S.A. chapters 67 and 87 and State Board rule 5436).   Prior to that time, Vermont did not have state licensing for the two professions
  • In July 2013, a VSHA SLP-Assistant Task Force submitted an Application for Preliminary Review on Speech Language Pathology Assistants to the Secretary of State’s Office of Professional Regulation (OPR).  This was done as a culmination of various information gathering and strategic planning efforts (2006-2013) that indicated a heavy reliance on aides, assistants, and para-educators to provide speech and language services in Vermont public schools. 
  • OPR recommended that VSHA work with them to first transfer SLP and Audiologist licensing to OPR, and then pursue licensing of SLP Assistants at a later date.  VSHA worked with OPR during the 2015 legislative session to successfully transfer the primary licensing and regulation of SLPs and Audiologists from AOE to OPR (effective 9/1/15).

2016 Legislative Session Outcome

  • VSHA began the 2016 legislative session with the intent of tying up some loose ends related to the transfer of licensing for SLPs from the Agency of Education (AOE) to the Office of Professional Regulation (OPR) that had been passed in 2015. 
  • During the 2016 legislative session, AOE officials indicated that they could not allow school-based SLPs (those who are employees, not contracted providers) to be regulated only by OPR, and advocated that school SLPs must also be required to obtain a teacher’s license.  AOE indicated the need to license SLPs to maintain a high standard of quality within the profession in schools and that it could not continue to issue an endorsement to school-based SLPs without an AOE license attached to it.
  • During the 2016 legislative session, three bills were introduced in the legislature to require all SLPs to have only one license and pay one fee.  VSHA supported “one license, one fee” through strong efforts by Lisa Durstin, VSHA Legislative Affairs Chair, our lobbyists, members of VSHA, and other SLPs.
  • VSHA has always emphatically supported the retention of teachers’ retirement and collective bargaining benefits for school-based SLPs along with “one license, one fee.”  An amendment to one of the bills was created to further ensure these benefits would not be lost. 
  • It appears that some SLPs in the state did not have adequate information or misunderstood the information.   Some SLPs sided with the AOE effort because they were concerned that their teachers’ retirement and collective bargaining benefits were in jeopardy if they were not also licensed by AOE.
  • The House and Senate Education committees heard hours of testimony.  The majority of people who testified shifted the focus from SLP licensing and regulation (a regulatory issue) to how SLPS provide service in the schools (an education issue).  VSHA’s 2016 legislative efforts towards “one license, one fee” were diverted and the argument set forth by the Agency of Education prevailed.
  • Licensing for SLPs who work as school employees has become more complicated and more expensive. If you work as an SLP school employee, you now need to go through both the Agency of Education and the Office of Professional Regulation to obtain two licenses so that you can continue to work in a school. 

Where Do We Go From Here?

  • VSHA would like to know:  Do you think that VSHA should continue to pursue “one license, one fee” in the 2017 legislative session?  VSHA members are encouraged to complete the quick 4-question survey/feedback form that was sent out in an Aug 1st advisory and also included in the Aug 15th VSHA Member Enews.

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