APA Services has filed a comment on the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs proposed rule RIN 2900-AR31, Readjustment Counseling Service Scholarship Program (RCSSP). With the input of APA’s Div. 18 (Psychologists in Public Service), and the Association of VA Psychologists Leaders (AVAPL), APA Services seeks to ensure the final rule reflects the needs of the mental health professionals who are impacted by this program.
The proposed rule amends VA regulations by adding new language that would govern the RCSSP established by the Commander John Scott Hannon Veterans Mental Health Care Improvement Act of 2019. The goal of the RCSSP is to provide educational assistance to individuals pursing a graduate degree in psychology, social work, marriage and family therapy, or mental health counseling that meet the VA vet center requirements for appointment as a health care professional.
APA Services, along with AVAPL and Div. 18, suggested the following changes to the proposed rule:
- Increase the funding period for psychology students. Psychologists must earn doctoral degrees in order to be eligible for VA employment, unlike social workers, LPCs, and MFTs, who only need to earn a master’s degree. Psychology graduates carry significantly more debt than these other disciplines and may be dissuaded from participating in the program if they will still carry significant debt after graduation.
- Expand supervision requirements. Each of the disciplines eligible for this scholarship program require supervision by another professional licensed in that state in order to gain state licensure. Because VA providers may be licensed in any state, some providers may not be able to supervise a recent graduate if that graduate is seeking to be licensed in that state. We encourage the VA to allow scholarship recipients to be supervised by another VA provider or even a community provider if no appropriate supervisor is available at a VA vet center.
The full comment on this proposed rule will soon be made available on the Regulations.gov page. The comment period for this rule closed on January 4, 2022.
For more information, contact Corbin Evans.