Behavioral Services -- Increasing Availability & Quality
Why is this issue important?
Over the last four decades, more than 500 high-quality research studies have documented the effectiveness of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) methods to treat the symptoms of autism. When children and adults with autism participate in high-quality and intensive ABA services, approximately 30% of children no longer meet the diagnostic criteria for autism and the vast majority of individuals learn skills that make clinically significant and meaningful differences in their lives.
Scientific evidence convincingly demonstrates that ABA is the gold standard for the treatment of autism. ABA provides individuals with autism with an evidence-based, individualized, positive, engaging, and effective approach to learning new skills and safely reducing challenging behavior. ABA programs are most effective when conducted in collaboration with the individual, his/her family, and the interdisciplinary treatment team.
Autism New Jersey heard loud and clear during the Listening Tour conducted in 2009 that families want professionals who are compassionate, respectful, knowledgeable about autism, and, ultimately, effective treatment providers. Competent behavior analysts are all of these things.
With the best interest of individuals with autism in mind, Autism New Jersey strives to bring recognition to the practice of behavior analysis as a distinct and specialized profession. Autism New Jersey strongly recommends that all who practice behavior analysis meet the standards set forth by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB). The BACB’s credentials are accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) and thus meet all of the professional standards expected of a reputable credentialing process.
Autism New Jersey's work on this important public policy initiative crosses multiple state departments:
Department of Education (DOE) -- In our schools
Department of Human Services (DHS) -- Service providers and Medicaid Waiver
Department of Banking and Insurance (DOBI) -- Insurance and Reimbursement
Department of Education, Office of Special Education
- Autism New Jersey supports the creation of a DOE job code for the levels of BACB certification. Given the substantial educational and clinical responsibilities that BCBAs possess directing and delivering IEP-mandated services, these professionals should be recognized as bona fide, integral members of the school community with their own job code, role, expertise, and accountability. Update: In August 2014, The DOE’s Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) announced the creation of a job code for Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBAs). Click here for more information.
DOE Autism Specialist:
- Autism New Jersey applauds the DOE’s creation of a new position to enhance its autism and ABA knowledge. Last year, DOE created a new position of Autism and Multiple Disabilities Specialist. In August 2013, Mary B. Haspel, M.A., BCBA was hired for this role and is the first Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) hired by the DOE. Autism New Jersey Executive Director, Dr. Suzanne Buchanan, and Ms. Haspel regularly discuss the successes, challenges, and needs of school programs serving students with autism. Topics relevant to both public and private schools include enhancing capacity to provide evidence-based educational and clinical programming, staff training, the distinct role of the behavior analyst, functional curriculum, supported inclusion models, and how to support all schools as they strive to meet the Autism Program Quality Indicators.
Behavior Service Delivery Survey:
- Autism New Jersey collaborated with the DOE to develop a survey regarding behavioral service delivery that the DOE may soon send to all public and private schools. This information will be helpful to the Department as it strives to be responsive to the needs of districts, behavior analysts working in school settings, and most importantly, students with autism who need behavioral services.
Department of Human Services, Division of Developmental Disabilities
Provider Qualifications for Community Care Waiver (CCW):
- Autism New Jersey is requesting that doctoral-level BCBAs (BCBA-Ds) be included in the Provider Qualifications for the Community Care Waiver and Supports Program. DDD's "Rate Setting" process will set the foundation for reimbursement rates and allowable expenses for services provided through the Medicaid Community Care Waiver (CCW).
Behavior Management and Human Rights Committees:
- Autism New Jersey reviewed the operations of Behavior Management Committees (BMC) and Human Rights Committees and continues to advocate for the adoption of our recommendations. These include minimum qualifications for some BMC members who review BMC's Level III plans.
Department of Banking and Insurance
- Autism New Jersey successfully advocated for the inclusion of the BACB credentials in the autism insurance mandate bulletin issued by the Department of Banking and Insurance in 2010. This bulletin states that Board Certified Behavior Analysts at the masters and doctoral levels are recommended as providers to oversee and deliver ABA services. (Learn more about our work with Health Insurance.)
- Autism New Jersey continues to advocate on behalf of BCBAs who are encountering systemic obstacles to insurance reimbursement. For more information, click here and take our survey.