Virginia required a license for Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBAs) and Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analysts (BCaBAs) to practice Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) in Virginia.
The process for developing the regulations included a Working Group of 3 BCBAs and a BCaBA as well as a consumer and two doctors. The Working Group met 3 times to develop draft regulations.
The original proposed draft regulations which staff introduced to the group were amended by the Working Group. The original proposed draft was not acceptable to the Working Group because it would have prevented unlicensed but supervised individuals from delivering ABA services. The working group listened to input from the public and BCBA professionals. They drastically changed the regulations to ensure the continued right to practice and supervise in Virginia. They amended the regulations and among other things, tied the licensure and renewal to the national certification board, the Behavior Analysts Certification Board (BACB). Equally as important and pivotal for the profession, they restored the supervision of trained, unlicensed individuals by BCBAs and BCaBAs.
These draft regulations were then presented to the full Board of Medicine on Thursday, June 21, 2012. The Board of Medicine ignored the Working Group proposed regulations, the public comment of the professionals, providers and family members and reverted to the staff’s original draft of the regulations, which was not voted on or approved of by the Working Group.
At this time, the proposed regulations from the Board of Medicine would not allow unlicensed but supervised therapists to deliver ABA in Virginia which would shut down the current services to children on the autism spectrum in Virginia.
This has sweeping implications for schools, Tricare beneficiaries, service providers, DMAS and anyone that uses unlicensed but supervised behavior therapists to provide ABA therapy. ABA therapy for children with autism is typically provided by trained behavior therapists or para-professionals under the supervision of licensed therapists. This service model is accepted by the federal government, the Tricare military insurance program, and the majority of commercial insurance carriers in almost 30 states around the nation.
- There are currently about 300 licensed BCBA therapists in Virginia.
- There are about 20,000 children with autism in Virginia.
- A direct-care therapist can service roughly 3-4 children per week.
- Assuming the above figures, Virginia would have to have 6,000 therapists to meet the existing need.
We are very concerned about the BOM's lack of consideration for the Working Group’s recommendations for the regulations that will govern the BCBA and BCaBA profession.
We are especially concerned because the regulations say that unlicensed people who are supervised by licensed behavior analysts cannot practice ABA. The definition of ABA covers all things that both certified and non certified individuals would do. The current wording would prohibit students in VA from completing fieldwork to become board certified and it would also prohibit certified behavior analysts from training others to implement behavior analytic techniques. But most concerning of all is the fact that thousands of children with a diagnosis of autism in Virginia and countless others that receive behavior analytic services stand to lose care they are already receiving, or will be denied care they need.
There are several more steps through which these proposed regulations need to go. Ultimately they will end up with the Governor for his approval. Stay connected with the Virginia Autism Project on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/VirginiaAutismProject and Twitter @VaAutismProject. JOIN OUR MAILING LIST and tell other BCBA and BCaBA professionals to contact Megan Miller, M.S. BCBA at
We have a lot of work yet to do- but we won’t back down!