Suspension of Professional Certification Requirements for Certified Nurse Assistants (CNAs)

Please note that this information has been superseded by a more recent item and is only retained here for reference.

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AFL 20-35.3 From the California Department of Public Health

July 8, 2021

TO: All Facilities

SUBJECT: Suspension of Professional Certification Requirements for Certified Nurse Assistants (CNAs)
(This AFL supersedes AFL 20-35.2)

AUTHORITY:      Proclamation of a State of Emergency (PDF), Executive OrderN-39-20 (PDF), and Executive Order N-08-21 (PDF) 

All Facilities Letter (AFL) Summary

  • This AFL notifies all facilities of a temporary waiver of specified statutory and regulatory requirements for CNAs due to the state of emergency related to the COVID-19 outbreak.
  • This AFL allows a CNA who remains in an “employable during state of emergency” status to complete in-service or continuing education units and count them towards certificate renewal.
  • This revision:
    • Adds specific instructions for applicants submitting reciprocity applications.
    • Notifies facilities who hired CNAs under the “Reciprocity” section of this AFL that they must retain a copy of the applicant’s verification form for a period of four years.
  • This AFL notifies all facilities that the temporary waiver of specified regulatory requirements contained in this AFL will expire September 30, 2021.

Pursuant to the Governor’s Executive Order N-39-20 (PDF) related to the COVID-19 state of emergency, the Director of the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) may waive any of the professional certification requirements and amend scopes of practice of Chapter 2 of Division 2 of the Health and Safety Code (HSC) and accompanying regulations with respect to CNAs. CDPH is temporarily waiving specified CNA requirements and suspending regulatory enforcement contained in this AFL.

California has made significant progress in the response to COVID-19 as a result of the collective efforts taken by Californian’s and the widespread availability of COVID-19 vaccines. With decreasing case rates, stabilizing hospitalizations, and increased availability of vaccines California is moving Beyond the Blueprint for a Safer Economy.

As a result and in compliance with Executive Order N-08-21 (PDF), the temporary waivers contained in this AFL will expire September 30, 2021.

Initial Certification

1.    HSC section 1337.5(b)(2)-(3) and Title 22 of the California Code of Regulations (CCR) section 71835(j): A nurse assistant enrolled in an approved certification training program may continue to be employed while this waiver is valid. This initial certification waiver will expire September 30, 2021. Pursuant to Title 22 CCR section 71835(j) a nurse assistant may delay completion of the training program and competency testing until 4 months after employment. Since the waiver is expiring September 30, 2021, a nurse assistant must complete the initial certification program by no later than January 31, 2022.

 Nurse assistants are encouraged  to complete the program as training programs resume. A nurse assistant who has not completed the training program shall only render services at the competency level confirmed by the training program on a competency checklist to be shared with the facility.

2.    Title 22 CCR section 71835(f)Due to the current state of emergency, a nurse assistant enrolled in an approved certification training program or competency evaluation program may provide patient care prior to having a test for tuberculosis infection. The nurse assistant shall complete the test for tuberculosis infection as soon as practicable but no later than September 30, 2021.

Renewal

3.    HSC sections 1263(c)1337.1(e)(2)1337.6 and Title 22 CCR section 71839All CNAs in an active status are encouraged to renew following normal timelines. A CNA seeking certificate renewal may complete any of the 48 required hours of in-service or continuing education units at any time during the 2-year recertification period and may complete all the required 48 hours through online or distance learning formats.

Effective September 30, 2021, the above waiver requirement allowing a CNA flexibility with certificate renewal will expire. A CNA seeking certificate renewal must complete any of the 48 required hours of in-service or continuing education units within one full quarter of this waiver expiring or no later than January 31, 2022, and may complete all the required 48 hours through online or distance learning formats.

Expired Certification

4.    HSC section 1337.6 and Title 22 CCR section 71839: A CNA whose certification expired no earlier than March 30, 2018, or whose certification will expire during the state of emergency, and who remains in an “employable during state of emergency” status may work as a CNA no later than March 31, 2022 without renewal. All facilities must check CDPH’s online verification page to verify employment eligibility. Only those CNAs with a status of “active” or “employable during state of emergency” may be employed. A CNA who remains in an “employable during state of emergency” status will be allowed to complete in-service or continuing education units and count them towards renewal of the certification. Any of the 48 hours of in-service and continuing education may be completed through online or distance learning formats.

 Effective September 30, 2021, the above waiver allowing a CNA flexibility with renewal of an expired certificate will expire. A CNA seeking certificate renewal must complete any of the 48 required hours of in-service or continuing education units within one full quarter of this waiver expiring or no later than January 31, 2022, and may complete all the required 48 hours through online or distance learning formats.

Reciprocity

5.    HSC section 1337.2(d)-(e): A LVN or RN seeking certification and possessing a valid license issued by another state or foreign country, whether active or expired within the last two years, may begin working as a CNA immediately upon submission of a reciprocity application.

The reciprocity application consists of an Initial Application (CDPH 283B), a completed Request for Live Scan Service form (BCIA 8016) and copy of the active or expired LVN or RN license. Expired licenses must range from present day, back to April 5, 2018. The CDPH 283B must include the hand-written letters “AFL/RECP” at the top right-hand corner of the application. Upon review and approval of the reciprocity application, a written verification letter will be sent to the applicant. Once the verification letter has been received it must be provided to the hiring facility.

Facilities who hired a RN or LVN as a CNA under the above reciprocity section must retain a copy of the applicant’s verification form for a period of four years. If you have not received certification verification from the applicant, you may contact CDPH at cna@cdph.ca.gov with a subject line of “AFL/RECP” to receive a copy of this certification verification form.

Report of Change

6.    HSC section 1337.6(j): A CNA must notify CDPH of a change of address as soon as practicable, but no later than September 30, 2021.

As a result of this temporary waiver, facilities do not need to submit individual program flexibility requests to employ nurse assistants or CNAs using the waivers specified above until September 30, 2021. Requests for waivers not specified in this AFL shall be submitted using the CDPH 5000A (PDF).

The waivers of specified regulatory requirements contained in this AFL will expire September 30, 2021.

If you have any questions about this AFL, please contact the Healthcare Workforce Branch, Aide and Technician Certification Section via email at cna@cdph.ca.gov. Please include reference to AFL 20-35.3: Suspension of Professional Certification Requirements for CNAs in the subject line of the email.

Any future AFLs related to temporary emergency waivers of statutory requirements for  CNAs, NATPs, or competency examinations may be found on CDPH’s All Facilities Letters 2021 webpage.

Sincerely,

Original signed by Cassie Dunham

Cassie Dunham

Acting Deputy Director

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