Advocating for School Psychologists in Response to the APA's Proposed Model Act for State Licensure of Psychologists: 10 Things State Associations Can Do To Help
By Anastasia Kalamaros Skalski
NASP has created a roadmap for state associations to respond to the model act. This roadmap contains extensive information on the model act, checklists for assessing your state's risk for exposure to these proposals, and suggestions for working to combat them. The full roadmap is available at http://www.nasponline.org/standards/stateadvocacyroadmap.aspx.
Exhibt E in this roadmap details the top 10 essential advocacy activities for state associations. These activities include:
- Identify leaders and a clear set of procedures for monitoring and responding to the introduction of potentially harmful state legislation, regulations, or policies. Suggested leaders include: State Association President, NASP Delegate, State GPR/legislative chairperson, SPAN Coordinator, state lobbyist, etc.
- Conduct a needs assessment of the advocacy skills and knowledge of leaders and members. Prepare school psychologists as needed so that they clearly understand key advocacy messages and specific strategies that they can personally use in responding to this issue. Consult the NASP GPR Committee as needed in building this capacity.
- Conduct a 'risk' assessment of how vulnerable your state is to potential policies or legislation that would remove the right of nondoctoral school psychologists to use the 'psychologist' title and to engage in psychological practice in school settings.
- Complete the NASP Advocacy Roadmap for States: Profile of School Psychology Credentialing and Psychologist Licensing (Exhibit D).
- Respond to needs assessment, risk assessment, Profile of State Credentialing, and other NASP Advocacy Roadmap for States materials by developing a State Action Plan (Exhibit I). To be most useful, the state plan should have concrete recommendations of specific actions (e.g., advocacy training, developing a legislative alert system, setting up a phone tree for contacting legislators, etc.) to be taken to improve awareness, communication and message development, and advocacy skills.
- Set up an ongoing State Action Plan (Exhibit I) monitoring and evaluation system to ensure that all activities are completed on time and all pertinent information is communicated to state school psychology leaders and grassroots advocates.
- Establish communication methods with state school psychologists where regular updates are posted, questions answered, and time-sensitive action requests can be made. Suggestions include: website bulletin boards, blogs, brief e-mail announcements, and 'alert systems' that include e-mails, phone calls, or other types of announcements. Appoint specific leaders as responsible for managing all communications.
- Identify and reach out to key stakeholders and allies. Inform nonschool psychology colleagues and stakeholders about the model act issue and solicit their support in responding to any potential threatening legislation. Focus on the how disruptive potential legislation could be to services, policies, and procedures. Build coalitions that can be helpful in responding to this crisis while also building collaborative relationships and promoting shared missions regarding advocacy for essential student services.
- Prepare information packets or an 'issue kit' that can be accessed easily and quickly. Select key materials and information that succinctly explains the problem and how it can be resolved. Consult the NASP Advocacy Roadmap for States materials for ideas of key materials and resources.
- Work with state administrators, psychology licensing boards, state credentialing boards, and other public policy agencies and personnel to work out agreements that articulate why school psychologists are essential to the mission and purpose of schools. Be patient and never give up. Your colleagues and students are counting on you.
Several state associations have made a significant effort to inform their members about the impact that the model act could have on practices within their state and have also developed tools and strategies to help their members respond. Exhibit P in the Advocacy Roadmap provides examples of some of these products.
Anastasia Kalamaros Skalski, PhD, is NASP Director, Public Policy.