Published on 01/20/2020
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – In an effort to support the training and retention of Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBA) and to improve access to Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation has awarded $ 100,000 to coordinate training efforts between three autism treatment centers in West Virginia. Augusta Levy Learning Center, Bright Futures Learning Services, and the WVU Medicine Children’s Neurodevelopment Center will work collaboratively to provide supervision to graduate students seeking national certification. The three centers contribute matching funds of $ 515,000.
BCBAs are behavioral scientists who design and oversee ABA intervention and therapy programs. New guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics state that “most evidence-based treatment models are based on the principles of ABA.” ABA uses behavioral learning principles to help increase positive behaviors and social interactions and decrease problematic behaviors. It is the recommended treatment for children with autism and is backed by over 30 years of research.
A December 2019 study from Emory University reports that the supply of certified ABA providers is insufficient to meet the needs of children with autism spectrum disorders in almost all states. With approximately 6,190 West Virginia children on the autism spectrum, the Mountaineer Autism Project estimates that less than 10 percent have access to a certified behavior analyst.
The BCBA is a graduate level certification in behavior analysis. To obtain a BCBA certificate, applicants must obtain an acceptable graduate degree from an accredited university; take graduate courses in behavior analysis; and successfully complete 1,500 hours of supervised practical experience to apply for the national BCBA exam. The ABA Workforce Development Initiative will streamline and coordinate supervised fieldwork for 15 candidates across the three sites. Students who train through the initiative will have a one-year commitment to work in the state after obtaining their national certification.
Grants Coordinator and Director of Bright Future Learning Services, Jill Scarbro-McLaury, said: “The training and retention of behavior analysts is a critical and missing tool in our state’s efforts to end the ‘flight of people’. brains ”and to support all children with learning and behavior problems, not just those with autism. The Benedum Prize is an exciting and important first step towards creating workforce development policies to address the shortage of state providers.
“WVU NDC’s ABA Clinic is excited to be a part of this state-wide collaborative effort to train and retain West Virginia students in evidence-based autism treatment. For years our clinic has strived to encourage interns to specialize in this growing field, but has not made a statewide effort to retain these well-trained students. We are grateful to the Benedum Foundation for supporting this collaborative effort to expand the essential work to increase and keep well-trained BCBAs here at home ”, Susannah Poe, Ed.D., BCBA-D., director of ABA services at WVU Medicine Children’s Neurodevelopment Center, said.
“The Augusta Levy Learning Center is thrilled and honored to be part of a statewide effort to educate the next generation of knowledgeable and engaged behavior analysts in our state. By retaining behavior analysts and expanding Applied Behavior Analysis services, more children and adults in our state will have access to life-changing behavioral treatment. With the support of the Benedum Foundation, our three centers can collaboratively train BCBA candidates while instilling the importance of a commitment to excellence in the service of others, ”said Angela Wood, Executive Director of the Augusta Levy Learning Center .
Investing in the training and retention of certified behavior analysts will stimulate the creation of new jobs for administrative and support staff who work directly with children. The Benedum initiative is expected to create 80 new jobs and provide evidence-based treatment to 100 more West Virginia children with autism by 2024.