Autism New Jersey Seeks Clarification Regarding ABA Services by DOE-Approved Clinics and Agencies

August 16, 2022

The Department of Education (DOE) issued a memo on July 13, 2022, to remind all stakeholders of three (3) existing requirements relating to school board contracts with Approved Clinics and Agencies that provide services such as Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), among others.

While not new regulations, DOE’s emphasis of these requirements has raised some questions and concerns, as they may have an impact on schools and ABA consulting agencies that are providing vital services to students with autism. In particular, DOE’s memo highlights the minimum educational requirements for professionals employed by an approved clinic or agency.

The memo notes that staff from Approved Clinics and Agencies must hold, at a minimum, a bachelor’s degree and shall work under the supervision of certified district board of education personnel. It singles out Registered Behavior Technicians, who are often an important part of the treatment team implementing behavior plans.

“As Registered Behavioral Technicians (RBTs) do not meet the minimum education requirement set forth in N.J.A.C. 6A:14-5.1(c)1iii(3), education agencies may not contract with clinics and agencies for the services of an RBT.”

While designed for entry-level behavior professionals who may only possess a high school diploma, some RBTs do have bachelor’s degrees and therefore would meet this current requirement. Autism New Jersey has since clarified with the DOE that RBTs and other behavior technicians who do possess a bachelor’s degree are allowed to continue providing services.

As currently written, this would mean that RBTs and other technicians employed by an approved clinic or agency who do not meet this minimum requirement would not be allowed to deliver services through contracts with school districts because they do not meet the minimum requirement and therefore are not approved by the DOE. School districts may continue to hire RBTs as staff members to meet student needs.

In our discussions with DOE regarding this memo, they have been sensitive to labor market shortages that make securing adequately qualified staff challenging. They have agreed to continue this dialogue to ensure the delivery of IEP-mandated services.

Autism New Jersey encourages all who are impacted by this policy to contact our 800.4.AUTISM Helpline via phone or email so that we may help you troubleshoot your particular situation and represent your concerns to the DOE in our ongoing advocacy work.

Read the full DOE memo here.