In 2012, NMSHA was made aware of an increasing concern regarding SLPAs from other states traveling to rural New Mexico and working as a “speech therapy assistants” and serving students/clients with speech and language needs in the schools and other settings. Rural NM schools and/or contract companies were hiring these individuals and licensing them as Educational Assistants (EA)s, despite numerous attempts to get school districts to discontinue this practice. NM licensed speech-language pathologists were directed by the school districts to supervise these individuals per district regulations.
Unknown to the NM licensed Speech-Language Pathologists, their licenses were being placed in jeopardy. NMSHA brought this practice to the attention of the New Mexico Regulation and Licensing Department (NM RLD). NM RLD and NMSHA worked together to develop solutions. NMSHA created a focus group to look at SLPA and Audiology Assistants (AA) in 2012, as well as conducted a survey with school districts and charter schools to determine which districts were hiring SLPA’s as Educational Assistants. This information was presented to the NMRLD . NMRLD also started having discussions to license SLPAs in the state of New Mexico to protect its citizens. The NM RDL had a framework and timeframe for presenting the SLPA certification to New Mexico Legislatures because of the growing concern.
In early 2017, RLD was asking for NMSHA’s position on the SLPA issue. Given that the board had yet to vote on the SLPA issue, a vote was taken in January of 2017 in favor of SLPA licensure.
The first draft of the SLPA certification requirements was sent to all members and posted on the NMSHA website for feedback in Fall 2016. NMSHA listened and represented all suggestions/concerns to NM RLD, and many changes were made. Thus, the second draft was developed in early spring 2017 and posted on the NMSHA website and sent to the listserve of members for feedback.
August 2017: At this point, few have submitted feedback on the second draft. NMSHA did post the SLPA second draft on the NMSHA website set a date June 30, 2017, for final feedback.
NMSHA will be putting together a strategic plan to support SLPAs and SLPs if it makes it through the 2019 legislation. NMSHA plans to provide training to SLPs on how to direct, manage and supervise SLPAs versus CFYs. NMSHA will be meeting with NM PED Special Education Director in September 2017 to discuss caseload/workload limits for supervising SLPs. NMSHA is now moving forward in preparation for this SPA licensure.