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NYS revises regulation that interfered with child therapy

U.S. Air Force / SSgt. Taylor L. Marr

Early childhood therapists in New York can soon return to giving treatment to children in licensed childcare centers without supervision from staff.

Physical therapists, speech pathologists and others sometimes take a child out of classrooms for sessions because it allows for privacy. They couldn’t do that since last September because the New York Office of Children and Family Services wouldn’t recognize their background checks due to a new regulation.

OCFS is the agency that licenses child care centers. Its regulation required all staff at licensed child care centers to go through background checks. Background checks licensed therapists already have from another state agency weren’t recognized.

OCFS said it had to change the regulation to comply with a federal mandate

Now, the OCFS has revised the regulation. Therapists can have private sessions at child care centers with written permission from a parent or guardian or if the childcare center has a designated area for therapy.

It’s still in compliance with the federal mandate.

Tracy Panzarella is a speech pathologist and, until recently, was president of the New York Speech Language Hearing Association. The association represents over 18,000 therapists across the state.

“I think overall it’s a very positive outcome that we’ve had based on the concerns that we’ve expressed, and they were some very significant concerns,” she said.

Therapists and childcare staff said that without this resolution they risked violating a child’s right to healthcare privacy.

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