Three states have successfully enacted music therapy licensure legislation. On April 26, 2011, Governor Dalrymple of North Dakota signed into law SB 2271. This legislation created the first-ever music therapy license in the country through the Board of Integrative Health. Following close behind in the state recognition process was Nevada. On Friday, June 3, 2011, Governor Brian Sandoval of Nevada signed into law SB 190. This legislation creates a music therapy license in Nevada through the State Board of Health. Georgia enacted music therapy licensure legislation in May of 2012 with Georgia bill SB 414 which was signed by Governor Nathan Deal.
Music therapists from North Dakota and Nevada have been actively involved in the implementation of the AMTA and CBMT State Recognition Operational Plan. The focus in these states will now move from the legislative process to the creation of regulations. AMTA Government Relations staff and CBMT Regulatory Affairs staff will continue to provide guidance and assistance as each state implements these new licenses. Many thanks to the members of the North Dakota Task Force (Andrew Knight, Natasha Thomas, and Emily Wangen), the members of the Nevada Task Force (Judith Pinkerton, Manal Toppozada, and Diane Bell) and to the Government Relations representative for the Western Region of AMTA (Rachel Firchau) for their work, dedication, and advocacy.
The on-going collaboration with CBMT to address the State Recognition Operational Plan has created a positive advocacy experience for music therapists. CBMT Regulatory Affairs Advisor, Dena Register, CBMT Regulatory Affairs Associate, Kimberly Sena Moore, and AMTA Director of Government Relations, Judy Simpson, continue to work together to facilitate state task force activity. There are currently 35 active task forces involved in state recognition efforts. Add to that number another eight states, which have completed some task force work or have received assistance with advocacy issues since beginning the operational plan in 2005, and the total rises to 36 states that have received state recognition support in 6 years.
Current economic issues have highlighted the importance of task forces being aware of how state budgets might impact the provision of music therapy services. Unfortunately, we are not always successful in avoiding service delivery reductions or program cuts. It has become evident to all, however, that having strong task forces in place makes the advocacy process much more effective. Despite some of the challenges we have faced, it has provided an opportunity for more music therapists to become engaged in advocacy and actively contribute to state recognition projects.
Many clinicians and students have participated in advocacy training and State Legislative events coordinated by task force members. Some state groups have successfully networked with parents, providers, and administrators to coordinate advocacy regarding proposed funding reductions. Whether related to specific client groups or the profession as whole, other task forces have attempted to impact legislation and regulations through Committee hearing testimony or official comment submissions. Several task forces are currently encouraging all music therapists to communicate with legislators through a systematic letter writing campaign, educating stakeholders about music therapy and inviting them to observe music therapy in action.
AMTA and CBMT have been highly involved in all of these endeavors, providing guidance, PR materials, advocacy PowerPoint sessions and template letters, research and reimbursement documents, organizational support letters, and technical assistance.
Many thanks are due to all of the members of the State Task Forces and Groups throughout the country for their dedication to pursuing state recognition opportunities. They are to be commended for devoting a significant amount of volunteer hours in response to very time-sensitive and time-intensive activities. In addition, AMTA would like to extend heartfelt thanks to Dena Register, Kimberly Sena Moore, and CBMT for the outstanding on-going collaboration that makes state advocacy a very positive and productive endeavor. It is a pleasure to work with all of these professionals on this exciting operational plan.