The Interstate Compact for Licensure (“Counseling Compact”), on which the American Counseling Association (ACA) has partnered with the Council of State Governments’ (CSG) National Center for Interstate Compacts (NCIC) and leading professional organizations within the counseling field on, is nearing completion. The drafting of the Counseling Compact has been an independent process facilitated by NCIC through participatory methodology inclusive of a diverse coalition, including ACA. The process has successfully resulted in draft language through the integration of robust public feedback, and we are looking to 2021 for introduction to state legislatures.
Independent stakeholder review sessions of proposed compact language began in the early fall of this year and included presentations for state boards, counselors, legislators and ACA branches. Over 34 sessions were conducted with licensing boards and other stakeholder groups which provided information about the compact and an opportunity for both verbal and written feedback. Anyone, regardless of whether they attended a formal information session, was able to submit feedback until September 30, 2020, when the comment period ended.
Following review sessions, NCIC reconvened the bill drafting team, including their legal experts on interstate compacts, to discuss the feedback gathered and to make appropriate changes to the Counseling Compact language. Members of the drafting team met a couple days a week during the month of October and finalized the draft language for final review by the advisory group. The advisory group met several times throughout November for a final review of updated language. A full review occurred on December 4 and we are hopeful to have an approved public facing draft available by end of the calendar year.
ACA’s Government Affairs team has collaborated with NCIC on ensuring that advocacy material is available online for the counseling community. The advocacy toolkit for the Counseling Compact, including talking points, fact sheets and materials for meetings with elected officials, will also be available by the end of the calendar year at CounselingCompact.org. CSG has secured this domain and is hosting this information to meet the needs of the coalition, provide necessary updates on compact developments and further facilitate engagement with members of the public interested in learning more and taking action.
Although COVID-19 will dramatically impact 2021 legislative sessions, NCIC is aiming to introduce the final language to state legislatures in key states by mid-February. ACA is supportive of an inclusive process that encourages all interested states and territories to take action within their communities. Given this, we are working in collaboration with NCIC on a list of key states to focus on for compact advocacy throughout 2021. This list will be comprised largely of those states with a long history of successful compacts. The threshold for Compact enactment requires that we secure a core group of 10 member states before the legislation can take effect. ACA will work with NCIC to encourage all interested states and territories to sign onto the Compact in future sessions. Given that legislatures will be struggling under the weight of COVID-19, we may be looking at a longer process for successfully enlisting a core 10 states that rolls over into the 2022 session.
For more information on the Counseling Compact, please visit ACA’s website.