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State-certified Syringe Exchange Program (SEP) Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Who needs to apply?

Any organization that currently serves IDUs and wants to add syringe exchange services may either:

  1. Apply for authorization through their local City Council or Board of Supervisors; or
  2. Apply for State Certification through CDPH/OA.

SEPs already authorized by local (city or county) governments do not need to apply for State Certification.

Who can apply?

Any entity that meets the minimum requirements outlined in Health and Safety (H&S) Code Section 121349 (PDF)Opens a new browser window. and wishes to provide syringe exchange services in locations where the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), Office of AIDS (OA) determines that the conditions exist for rapid spread of HIV, viral hepatitis, or other bloodborne diseases may apply.

Minimum requirements are:

  1. The entity must provide all of the following services, either directly or through referral:

           a) Drug abuse treatment services;

           b) HIV or hepatitis screening;

           c) Hepatitis A and hepatitis B vaccination;

           d) Screening for sexually transmitted infections;

           e) Housing services for the homeless, and for victims of domestic violence, or other similar housing services; and

           f) Services related to provision of education and materials for the reduction of sexual risk behaviors, including, but not limited to, the distribution of condoms.

    2.    The entity must have the capacity to begin needle and syringe exchange services within three months of certification.

    3.    The entity must have adequate funding to provide:

           a) Needle and syringe exchange services for all of its participants; and

           b) HIV and viral hepatitis prevention education services for all of its participants; and

           c) Safe recovery and disposal of used syringes and sharps waste from all of its participants.

     4.   The entity must have the capacity, and an established plan, to collect evaluative data in order to assess program impact, including but not limited to, all of the following:

           a) The total number of persons served;

           b) The total number of syringes and needles distributed, recovered, and disposed of; and

           c) The total numbers and types of referrals to drug treatment and other services.

How can I comment on an application, or find out if an organization has applied?

There are two ways an SEP may be authorized to operate in California:

  1. An organization may apply for authorization through their local Board of Supervisors or City Council; or
  2. An organization may apply for State Certification through CDPH/OA.

A list of locally-authorized SEPs may be found here.

Individuals who wish to comment on a locally-authorized SEP may do so by contacting their local Board of Supervisors or City Council.

If an application is deemed provisionally appropriate by CDPH/OA, a 90-day public comment period is required prior to State Certification. The public may comment online about an application during the 90-day public comment period at http://www.cdph.ca.gov/programs/aids/Pages/Applicationsopenforpubliccomment.aspx.

What happens after my organization applies?

Once an organization files an application via online or mail, CDPH/OA has 30 business days from receipt of the application to deem the application provisionally appropriate or to notify the applicant of the reason for rejection.

If an application is deemed provisionally appropriate by CDPH/OA, a 90-day public comment period is required prior to State certification. The 90-day public comment period is initiated on the date CDPH/OA posts the following information on the department website:

  1. Name of the applicant; and
  2. The nature of the proposed services; and
  3. The location where the proposed services will be provided.

The public may comment online about an application during the 90-day public comment period and find out if an organization has applied at: http://www.cdph.ca.gov/programs/aids/Pages/Applicationsopenforpubliccomment.aspx.

As part of its evaluation of each application, CDPH/OA is required to consult with:

  1. Local law enforcement; 
  2. The local health officer; and
  3. The neighborhood association of the proposed location, if one exists.

CDPH/OA will issue a final decision to certify or not to certify after all public comments have been considered. This final decision will be made within 30 business days after the close of the 90-day public comment period.

Certification is valid for two years. 

For what reasons can an entity be denied SEP Certification?

An entity’s application for SEP State Certification can be denied for the following reasons:

  1. If information submitted in the application is incorrect or incomplete;
  2. If the applicant does not meet all the requirements listed in H&S Code Section 121349 (PDF)Opens a new browser window.; or
  3. If evidence of projected harm to public safety, presented by local law enforcement official(s), is, in the department’s judgment, greater than evidence of projected benefits to public health.

If an entity’s application is rejected for any of the above stated reasons, OA will grant 60 days for the entity to rectify the deficiencies.

For what reasons can an entity be denied SEP Certification?

An entity's application for SEP State Certification can be denied for the following reasons:

  1. If information submitted in the application is incorrect or incomplete;
  2. If the application does not meet all the requirements listed in H&S Code Section 121349 (PDF)Opens a new browser window.; or
  3. If evidence of projected harm to public safety, presented by local law enforcement official(s), is, in the department's judgment, greater than evience of projected benefits to public health.

If an entity's application is rejected for any of the above stated reasons, OA will grant 60 days for the entity to rectify the deficiencies.

Can a denial be appealed?

Any person aggrieved by the CDPH/OA’s decision to deny Certification may request a hearing.

A request for a hearing must be made in writing within 30 days of the date that CDPH/OA’s notification of denial or revocation was issued, or after the date of CDPH/OA’s deemed denial, if applicable.

The request for hearing must be made in writing to the address found on the website for the Division Chief of the CDPH Office of AIDS, and must clearly state the reason. The address is:

Hearings shall be conducted pursuant to H&S Code Section 131071 (PDF)Opens a new browser window..

How long does Certification last?

State Certification lasts for two years and may be renewed by CDPH/OA. The SEP administrator may contact CDPH/OA prior to the end of the two-year certification period via mail or email to request renewal of certification for an additional two years.

After receiving a request for renewal of Certification, CDPH/OA will consult with the local health officer and local law enforcement. CDPH/OA has 30 business days to review and respond to the SEP’s request for renewal of Certification. If CDPH/OA does not respond in writing within 30 business days, the request is to be considered denied.

CDPH/OA will deny the request for Certification renewal if the SEP violates the terms of Subchapter 15 or fails to comply with the provisions of H&S Code Section 121349 (PDF)Opens a new browser window..

Under what circumstances can a state-certified SEP’s certification be revoked?

A State-certified SEP’s certification can be revoked by CDPH/OA if the SEP violates the terms of Subchapter 15 or fails to comply with the provisions of H&S Code Section 121349 (PDF)Opens a new browser window..

Any person aggrieved by the CDPH/OA’s decision to deny, revoke or refuse to renew certification, or by CDPH/OA’s deemed denial resulting from the CDPH/OA’s failure to respond to the applicant’s request for renewal within 30 business days, may request a hearing.

A request for a hearing must be made in writing within 30 days of the date that CDPH/OA’s notification of denial or revocation was issued, or after the date of CDPH/OA’s deemed denial, if applicable.

The request for hearing must be made in writing to the address found on the website for the Division Chief of the CDPH Office of AIDS, and must clearly state the reason. The address is:

Hearings shall be conducted pursuant to H&S Code Section 131071 (PDF)Opens a new browser window..

What are the operating requirements for State-certified SEPs?

A State-Certified SEP must:

  1.  Include participants’ input into program design, implementation and evaluation.
  2. Operate according to the standards set in regulations which describe the requirements for a:

          a) Syringe dispensing plan (PDF)Opens a new browser window.;

          b) Syringe collection and sharps waste disposal plan (PDF)Opens a new browser window. ;

          c) Service delivery plan (PDF)Opens a new browser window. ;

          d) Data collection and program evaluation plan (PDF)Opens a new browser window. ; and

          e) Community relations plan (PDF)Opens a new browser window. .

Click on the above links for a complete description of required components.

What are the reporting requirements for State-certified SEPs?

State-Certified SEPs must return a report to CDPH/OA, postmarked or delivered by email by the anniversary date of Certification each and every year of the program’s operation under State Certification.

The report must include:

  1. The total number of persons served;
  2. The total number of syringes and needles distributed, recovered, and disposed of; and
  3. The total number and types of referrals to drug treatment and other services.

The SEP must also report on the events recorded under the community relations plan, which includes:

  1. A record of adverse incidents and positive interactions between local law enforcement and SEP staff, volunteers or participants in their role as program participants;
  2. Documentation of concerns and positive feedback expressed by program participants, community members, neighborhood associations and/or local law enforcement officials; and
  3. Documentation of steps the program has taken to address any reasonable concerns.

 

 

 

 
 
Last modified on: 11/27/2013 9:40 AM