Digital Delivery

Digital Delivery of Programs

 CACREP has done its due diligence and kept in the forefront its core values, specifically:

  • serving as a responsible leader in protecting the public;
  • promoting practices that reflect openness to growth, change and collaboration; and,
  • creating and strengthening standards that reflect the needs of society ….

 The pandemic forced programs to rapidly pivot to delivering their programs by distance and integrating digital technology. The speed of the pivot was driven by practicality and potentially minimally attending to the requisite pedagogy integral to digitally delivered programs. The interest of programs in continuing to digitally deliver programs permanently necessitates that CACREP and its accredited programs have a common and shared understanding of digitally delivered programs and the associated quality assurance practices and resources. Additionally, the U.S. Department of Education (USDE) has new regulations and definitions of online and distance education that has implications for student financial aid that will need to be addressed at the institutional level. While CACREP is not bound to the USDE regulations, institutions by virtue of their respective institutional accreditor may be bound to the new regulations. As an accreditor, CACREP’s goal is to assure that the quality of accredited programs is maintained.

 Common and Shared Understanding of Digitally Delivered Programs

  • Definitions of constructs relevant to digitally delivered programs

CACREP is developing a glossary of terms and definitions regarding program digital delivery it will use for purposes of reviewing programs and their compliance with CACREP Standards and Policies. This glossary will be applicable to programs currently accredited as on-ground/in-person programs and as online programs.

  • Compliance with CACREP Standards and Policies

CACREP Standards and Policies are written to be applicable to all types of institutions and program delivery methods; however, how these standards are met and documented is unique to the type of institution and program delivery method.

  • Evolution of the legal and ethical requirements of program delivery methods

With the growing prevalence of digitally delivered programs, federal and state laws have been enacted that govern interstate education, credentialling, and practice.

 Relevant U.S. Department of Education Regulations

  • Release of new definitions of terms relevant to digitally delivered programs
  • Expectations of institutional accreditors to approve new distance education offerings
  • Implications for student financial aid

 Institutions are still operating under the Covid-19 waivers provided by accreditors which are in place due to the declared national emergency. The waiver of regulations by USDE-approved accrediting agencies will be extended through 180 days following the end of the national emergency. Institutions will have to pay attention as to when that end might be pending action by the U.S. President.

CACREP has provided programs a grace period until July 15, 2022, during which time programs should prepare to respond and comply with their institutional accreditor and CACREP requirements with regard to digital delivery. CACREP seeks to support both, enrolled students and accredited programs, as programs make permanent changes to program delivery. CACREP is making every effort to ensure that its requirements are in concert with that of institutional accreditors since holding institutional accreditation is a prerequisite to holding CACREP-accreditation.

CACREP recommends that programs attend to the following:

  1. How your institution is responding to the USDE regulations and requirements that impact student financial aid, and what effect does that have on the counseling program?
  2. How your institution is responding to the regulations and requirements of your institution’s accreditor, and what effect does that have on the counseling program?
  3. If CACREP reviewed and accredited your program as an on-ground/in-person program or as a multiple delivery format program and you are now permanently integrating digital delivery offerings, you will need to pay attention to the Standards for Digital Delivery of Program for which you will have to submit a substantive change report after the grace period. Reporting deadlines will be announced as soon as they are determined.
  4. If CACREP reviewed and accredited your program as an online program, you need to pay attention to the Standards for Digital Delivery Updates for which you will have to submit a digital delivery update report after the grace period. Reporting deadlines will be announced as soon as they are determined.

During the grace period, CACREP will develop and provide reporting guidelines and templates to programs for each of the reports mentioned above. Reporting deadlines will be announced as soon as they are determined.

Standards for Digital Delivery Substantive Change Report

 CACREP 2016 Standards

THE INSTITUTION

Standard 1.C
Provide evidence that the institution is committed to providing sufficient financial support to ensure continuity, quality, and effectiveness in program’s digital delivery learning environments.

Standard 1.F
Provide evidence that learning resources are appropriate for and accessible to digital delivery program students and faculty.

Standard 1.G
Provide evidence of sufficient technical support for digital program delivery to all counselor education program faculty and students to ensure access to information systems for learning, teaching, and research related to digital delivery.

Standard 1.H
Provide evidence that the institution provides information to students in digitally delivered programs about personal counseling services provided by professionals other than counselor education program faculty and students.

Standard 1.I
Provide evidence of having an appropriate digital learning management and support system including a video conferencing platform that complies with all legal and ethical standards.

THE ACADEMIC UNIT

Standard 1.L
Provide evidence of Entry-level admission decision recommendations are made by the academic unit’s selection committee and include consideration of each applicant’s (1) relevance of career goals, (2) aptitude for graduate-level study in a digitally delivered program, (3) potential success in forming effective counseling relationships, and (4) respect for cultural differences.

Standard 1.M
Provide evidence that before or at the beginning of the first term of enrollment in the academic unit, the program provides a new student orientation during which a student handbook is disseminated in accessible digital format and discussed. Students’ ethical and professional obligations and personal growth expectations as counselors-in-training are explained, eligibility for licensure/certification is reviewed for the states in which the digitally delivered program is offered, digital delivery technology requirements are explicitly stated, and authentication process, requirements and costs for students associated with requirements for digital delivery program enrollment are discussed.

Standard 1.N
Provide evidence that the student handbook includes a section specific to the navigation of digital delivery program expectations and the required learning management system.

Standard 1.O
Provide evidence of how the policy for student retention, remediation, and dismissal from the program will be implemented for digitally delivered programs in accordance with all current legal/ethical requirements (HIPAA, FERPA, etc.).

Standard 1.P
Provide evidence that all students enrolled in a digitally delivered program have an assigned advisor at all times during the program who helps them develop a planned program of study.

Standard 1.Q
Provide evidence of strategies employed to create an inclusive learning community for digital delivery program students.

Standard 1.V
Provide evidence there is sufficient clerical assistance to support the workload of digital faculty and program activities.

FACULTY AND STAFF

Standard 1.Y
Provide evidence that core faculty in the digital programs have the authority to determine or give final approval to the program curricula and operational and procedural policies for the program.

Standard 1.BB
Provide evidence that all core and noncore faculty have relevant preparation in relation to digital delivery of courses they teach.

PROFESSIONAL COUNSELING IDENTITY

Standard 2.D
Provide evidence that digital course syllabi are available for review by all enrolled and prospective students that outline digital program requirements to monitor academic engagement, digital accessibility and regular and substantive interaction between students and instructors either through asynchronous or synchronous delivery.

Standard 2.E
Provide evidence that current counseling-related research is infused in the digital program curriculum.

Standard 2.F
Document where each of the lettered standards listed (1-8) is covered in the digital program curriculum.

PROFESSIONAL PRACTICE

Standard 3.B
Provide evidence of supervision of practicum and internship students in digitally delivered programs including program-appropriate audio/video recording and/or live supervision of student interactions with clients using a digital platform in accordance with all current legal/ethical requirements (HIPAA, FERPA, etc.).

Standard 3.C
Provide evidence of formative and summative evaluations of the student’s counseling performance and ability to integrate and apply knowledge are conducted as part of the student’s practicum and internship using a digital platform and in accordance with all current legal/ethical requirements (HIPAA, FERPA, etc.).

Standard 3.H
Provide evidence that practicum students in digitally delivered programs have weekly synchronous interaction with supervisors that averages one hour per week of individual and/or triadic supervision throughout the practicum using a digital platform and in accordance with all current legal/ethical requirements (HIPAA, FERPA, etc.).

Standard 3.I
Provide evidence that practicum students in digitally delivered programs participate in an average of 1½ hours per week of synchronous group supervision on a regular schedule throughout the practicum using a digital platform and in accordance with all current legal/ethical requirements (HIPAA, FERPA, etc.).

Standard 3.L
Provide evidence that Internship students in digitally delivered programs have weekly synchronous interaction with supervisors that averages one hour per week of individual and/or triadic supervision throughout the internship using a digital platform and in accordance with all current legal/ethical requirements (HIPAA, FERPA, etc.).

Standard 3.M
Provide evidence that Internship students in digitally delivered programs participate in an average of 1½ hours per week of group supervision on a regular synchronous schedule throughout the internship using a digital platform and in accordance with all current legal/ethical requirements (HIPAA, FERPA, etc.).

Standard 3.N
Provide evidence that counselor education program faculty members serving as individual/triadic or group practicum/internship supervisors for students in entry-level programs have relevant training and experience in supervision using a digital platform.

Standard 3.P
Provide evidence that site supervisors have relevant training in counseling supervision using a digital platform.

Standard 3.Q
Provide evidence that orientation, consultation, and professional development opportunities are provided by counselor education program faculty to site supervisors using a digital platform and in accordance with all current legal/ethical requirements (HIPAA, FERPA, etc.).

 EVALUATION OF THE PROGRAM

Standard 4.A
Provide evidence of how the program will implement a documented, empirically based plan for systematically evaluating the program objectives, including student learning in a digitally delivered program in accordance with all current legal/ethical requirements (HIPAA, FERPA, etc.).

Standard 4. C
Provide evidence that the counselor education program faculty provide evidence of the use of program evaluation data to inform program modifications for digitally delivered programs.

Standard 4.F
Provide evidence of how the counselor education program faculty systematically assesses students in a digitally delivered program’s progress throughout the program by examining student learning in relation to a combination of knowledge and skills in a digitally delivered environment and in accordance with all current legal/ethical requirements (HIPAA, FERPA, etc.).

Standard 4.G
Provide evidence of how the counselor education program faculty systematically assesses each student’s professional dispositions in a digitally delivered program throughout the program in accordance with all current legal/ethical requirements (HIPAA, FERPA, etc.).

Standard 4.H
Provide evidence that the counselor education program faculty has a systematic process in place for the use of individual student assessment data in relation to retention, remediation, and dismissal in a digitally delivered program and in accordance with all current legal/ethical requirements (HIPAA, FERPA, etc.).

Standard 4.I
Provide evidence that written procedures for administering the process for student evaluations of faculty are available to the counselor education program faculty in a digitally delivered program and in accordance with all current legal/ethical requirements (HIPAA, FERPA, etc.).

Standard 4.J
Provide evidence that students have regular, systematic opportunities to formally evaluate counselor education program faculty in a digitally delivered program and in accordance with all current legal/ethical requirements (HIPAA, FERPA, etc.).

Standard 4.K
Provide evidence that students have regular, systematic opportunities to formally evaluate practicum and internship supervisors in a digitally delivered program and in accordance with all current legal/ethical requirements (HIPAA, FERPA, etc.).

Doctoral Standards

Standard 6.A.2
Provide evidence of how the digitally delivered program (a) extends the knowledge base of the counseling profession in a climate of scholarly inquiry, (b) prepares students to inform professional practice by generating new knowledge for the profession, (c) supports faculty and students in publishing and/or presenting the results of scholarly inquiry, and (d) equips students to assume positions of leadership in the profession and/or their area(s) of specialization.

Standard 6.A.3
Provide evidence that doctoral program admission criteria include (a) academic aptitude in a digitally delivered program for doctoral-level study; (b) previous professional experience; (c) fitness for the profession, including self-awareness and emotional stability; (d) oral and written communication skills; (e) cultural sensitivity and awareness; and (f) potential for scholarship, professional leadership, and advocacy.

Standard 6.B
Provide evidence of where standards for each of the five doctoral core areas of counseling (6.B.1.a-f), supervision (6.B.2.a-k), teaching (6.B.3.a-i), research and scholarship (6.B.4.a-l), and leadership and advocacy (6.B.5.a-l) are covered in the digitally delivered program curriculum.

Standard 6.C.3
Provide evidence that individuals serving as practicum supervisors have relevant training in counseling supervision using a digital platform in addition to requirements (1), (2), and (3) of this standard.

Standard 6.C.4
Provide evidence that doctoral students in a digitally delivered program participate in an average of one hour per week of individual and/or triadic synchronous supervision throughout the practicum using a digital platform and in accordance with all current legal/ethical requirements (HIPAA, FERPA, etc.). When individual/triadic supervision is provided by the counselor education program faculty, practicum courses should not exceed a 1:6 faculty:student ratio.

Standard 6.C.5
Provide evidence that digitally delivered group supervision is provided on a synchronous regular schedule with other students throughout the practicum by a counselor education program faculty member using a digital platform and in accordance with all current legal/ethical requirements (HIPAA, FERPA, etc.). Group supervision of practicum students should not exceed a 1:12 faculty:student ratio.

Standard 6.C.8
Provide evidence that during digitally delivered internships, the student receives an average of one hour per week of individual and/or triadic synchronous supervision, performed by a supervisor with a doctorate in counselor education or an individual with a graduate degree and specialized expertise to advance the student’s knowledge and skills a digital platform and in accordance with all current legal/ethical requirements (HIPAA, FERPA, etc.).

Standard 6.C.9
Provide evidence that during digitally delivered synchronous group supervision is provided on a regular schedule with other students throughout the internship and must be performed by a counselor education program faculty member a digital platform and in accordance with all current legal/ethical requirements (HIPAA, FERPA, etc.).

Standards for Digital Delivery Update Report

 CACREP 2016 Standards

THE INSTITUTION

Standard 1.C
Provide evidence that the institution is committed to providing sufficient financial support to ensure continuity, quality, and effectiveness in program’s digital delivery learning environments.

Standard 1.F
Provide evidence that learning resources are appropriate for and accessible to digital delivery program students and faculty.

 Standard 1.G
Provide evidence of sufficient technical support for digital program delivery to all counselor education program faculty and students to ensure access to information systems for learning, teaching, and research related to digital delivery.

Standard 1.H
Provide evidence that the institution provides information to students in digitally delivered programs about personal counseling services provided by professionals other than counselor education program faculty and students.

Standard 1.I
Provide evidence of having an appropriate digital learning management and support system including a virtual platform that complies with all legal and ethical standards.

THE ACADEMIC UNIT

 Standard 1.L
Provide evidence of Entry-level admission decision recommendations are made by the academic unit’s selection committee and include consideration of each applicant’s (1) relevance of career goals, (2) aptitude for graduate-level study in a digitally delivered program, (3) potential success in forming effective counseling relationships, and (4) respect for cultural differences.

 Standard 1.M
Provide evidence that before or at the beginning of the first term of enrollment in the academic unit, the program provides a new student orientation during which a student handbook is disseminated in accessible digital format and discussed. Students’ ethical and professional obligations and personal growth expectations as counselors-in-training are explained, eligibility for licensure/certification is reviewed for the states in which the digitally delivered program is offered, digital delivery technology requirements are explicitly stated, and authentication process, requirements and costs for students associated with requirements for digital delivery program enrollment are discussed.

 Standard 1.N
Provide evidence that the student handbook includes a section specific to the navigation of digital delivery program expectations and the required learning management system.

Standard 1.Q
Provide evidence of strategies employed to create an inclusive learning community for digital delivery program students.

Standard 1.V
Provide evidence there is sufficient clerical assistance to support the workload of faculty in digital programs and program activities.

 FACULTY AND STAFF

Standard 1.Y
Provide evidence that core faculty in the digital programs have the authority to determine or give final approval to the program curricula and operational and procedural policies for the program.

Standard 1.BB
Provide evidence that all core and noncore faculty have relevant preparation in relation to digital delivery of courses they teach.

PROFESSIONAL COUNSELING IDENTITY

Standard 2.D
Provide evidence that digital course syllabi are available for review by all enrolled and prospective students that outline digital program requirements to monitor academic engagement, digital accessibility and regular and substantive interaction between students and instructors either through asynchronous or synchronous delivery.

PROFESSIONAL PRACTICE

Standard 3.M
Provide evidence that Internship students in digitally delivered programs participate in an average of 1½ hours per week of group supervision on a regular synchronous schedule throughout the internship using a digital platform and in accordance with all current legal/ethical requirements (HIPAA, FERPA, etc.).

Standard 3.P
Provide evidence that site supervisors have relevant training in counseling supervision using a digital platform.

Doctoral Standards

Standard 6.A.3
Provide evidence that doctoral program admission criteria include (a) academic aptitude in a digitally delivered program for doctoral-level study; (b) previous professional experience; (c) fitness for the profession, including self-awareness and emotional stability; (d) oral and written communication skills; (e) cultural sensitivity and awareness; and (f) potential for scholarship, professional leadership, and advocacy.

CACREP Policy Changes

 In light of the Board-prescribed reports:

  1. Policy 1.q Programs Offered by Multiple Delivery Methods is suspended effective August 16, 2021.
  2. Policy 8.e Substantive Change does not apply to program digital delivery changes. The Board-prescribed reports supersede this policy.

Policy 1.j Review of Nontraditional Programs
This policy is sunsetted effective August 15, 2021 as it is no longer relevant given the current definitions, practices, and course delivery methods.

Policy 1.o Programs Offered at Multiple Sites Revised
This policy has been revised effective August 16, to focus on multiple sites that are primarily delivered in-person.
Policy title changed: from Programs Offered at Multiple Sites to Programs Offered at Multiple In-Person Sites. This language and distinction are changed in its entirety in the policy.

Announcements

Fall 2021 Table Talks

This Fall, the CACREP Board will be hosting a series of listening sessions to hear about programs’ experiences with and concerns related to digital delivery, and to answer questions that programs have about the CACREP guidance being developed.

Covid-19 Accommodations/Flexibilities Expire

Effective August 16, 2021, programs must end all COVID-19 temporary accommodations and return to the status approved by CACREP as in their most recent CACREP accreditation decision letter.

Programs will have a grace period until July 15, 2022 to return to pre-Covid program delivery methods or to formalize through their institutional approval processes any permanent substantive changes being made. Programs making changes that involve the use of new digital delivery methods will be required to submit a Board-prescribed Substantive Change report after the grace period ends. The template and deadline for the Board-prescribed report will be made available in the Fall.

Moratorium on Site Visit Overrides Extended

The moratorium on the procedural ability for a program to override not being recommended during the initial desk review to proceed to site visit planning is extended until July 15, 2022.

Accreditation Review Process Flexibilities

CACREP will continue to maintain the following flexibilities with the accreditation review process:

  • Programs approved for site visits that have experienced delays will receive a no penalty accreditation cycle extension.
  • Virtual Site Visits will continue to be conducted.
  • Extension on retroactive period defined in Policy 5.a for graduates of new applicant programs will be granted.

FAQs by Programs

When will CACREP make available the glossary of terms and definitions for digitally delivered programs?

The target timeline for release of the glossary of terms that will be used for purposes of reviewing programs and their compliance is the end of September 2021.

How will a program know which required report to submit?

Programs accredited by CACREP for on-ground/in-person or multiple delivery formats maintaining or adding any digital delivery offerings or newly developed changes due to the pandemic must submit the Digital Delivery of Programs Substantive Change Report.

Programs accredited by CACREP for digital delivery (online) must submit the Digital Delivery Update Report.

The announcement says the reporting will be required after the grace period which ends on July 15, 2022. How soon after that date will a program be required to submit the report?

By December 2021, programs will be notified of their reporting deadline(s). The Board will determine which report each program will need to submit and when.

When will CACREP provide the reporting guidelines and Board-prescribed reporting templates?

The target timeline for release of the reporting guidelines and templates is January 2022.

Why does the counseling program need to know how their institution is responding to the USDE regulations and requirements that impact student financial aid?

The USDE has new definitions and criteria for online courses which determine if that course qualifies for financial aid. As counseling programs integrate digital delivery it behooves them to ensure that their courses are designed such that the course qualifies for financial aid.

Why does the counseling program need to know how their institution is responding to the regulations and requirements of the institutional accreditor?

A prerequisite for seeking and maintaining CACREP-accreditation is that the program must be housed in an institution that holds regional accreditation. Therefore, it behooves the counseling program to be informed about their institutional accreditation status relative to substantive changes.

When a program submits a Substantive Change report, this is typically reviewed by the Board and written notification is sent to the program regarding the Board’s decision on the report. Will this process occur for the new required digital delivery substantive change report?

Yes, the required report will be treated the same way Substantive Change reports have been reviewed in the past. The required Board-prescribed report will be reviewed by the Board and written notification will be sent to the program regarding the Board’s decision on the report. This Fall the Board will develop criteria for and decision outcomes of the review.

If my program has changes that are not related to digital delivery changes, do I need to submit a Substantive Change report?

That depends on whether the change is substantive. Policy 8.e Substantive Change remains applicable to other types of changes as identified in the policy. Programs should follow the process as outlined in the policy. CACREP staff, as always, may be contacted for guidance on whether a change would be considered “substantive” and how to proceed.

What if my program wants to implement a new digital delivery method between now and July 2022?

If you plan to make any changes to your delivery methods between now and July 2022 – whether that involves making a temporary change from the pandemic permanent or implementing new delivery methods, different from what you previously used during the pandemic – be sure first to go through your institutional approval processes. The Board will require a prescribed Substantive Change report to be submitted after July 15, 2022.