Chapter Spotlight: Vermont ABA

“The science of behavior analysis guides our mission, practice, and professional development. “

Joy Brewster

Vermont Association for Behavior Analysis (VtABA) continues to fulfill its mission of establishing a cohesive group of professionals and practitioners supporting the growth of behavior analysis in the state of Vermont. The science of behavior analysis guides our mission, practice, and professional development. We are dedicated to the dissemination and promotion of the theoretical, experimental, and applied analysis of behavior.

At the annual meeting on January 22, 2021, the current 13 board members were introduced. Over the course of the previous year, the board revised the bylaws, added to the timelines, and clarified responsibilities for board positions. The changes will provide additional support to our mission, assist in allocating existing resources more effectively, and allow us to plan events to better serve the needs of our members. An additional benefit is transitioning new board members during months with fewer board obligations and outreach events. The board discussed the addition of vice secretary.

Upcoming Board Vacancies and Nomination Process
The four upcoming open board positions were shared with the attendees. One board member vacancy is for a vice chair; this is a three-year commitment. The second board member vacancy is for a vice treasurer, and this is a two-year commitment. The two additional vacancies are for student members, and these are one-year commitments. Additional information will be forthcoming. The nomination process was modified in 2019. The board will begin accepting nominations, and the nominees will be announced at the conference in April 2021. The board will complete the voting process in May 2021. The new board members will commence their terms in June 2021.

Membership Update
Our membership has declined. Precipitating factors include the COVID-19 pandemic and the need to cancel the annual conference in 2020. Many of our new members and membership renewals occur at the annual conference. Current membership is 95 members.

Event Updates
The Events Committee hosted two webinars. One occurred on February 18, 2020. Dr. Bethany Contreras presented information on the VB-MAPP. Attendees had the opportunity to earn one CE. The content covered practice, theory, and methodology. A second webinar was a joint effort with the Insurance Committee. The webinar took place on December 6, 2020. The content covered several aspects of insurance coverage for those with an autism spectrum diagnosis.
The focus and future direction for the Website Committee includes the following: simplifying the process for membership renewal and event registration, gathering ideas for a new logo, and adding an employment section to the website. They are compiling a more comprehensive resources list for providers and practitioners of applied behavior analysis and updating registration processes.

The VtABA chapter is planning for the annual conference on April 30, 2021. The conference will a virtual, full-day event offering CEs. We look forward to presentations from Dr. Manny Rodriguez. There may be a second speaker. The focus will be topics related to organizational behavior management (OBM).

The Insurance Advocacy Committee was formed in 2019. As noted above, they partnered with the Events Committee to present a webinar about insurance issues on December 9, 2021. Community members with whom they collaborate are Mary-Graham McDowell from the Community Care Network of Rutland Mental Health Services and Cortney Keene, BCBA, LBA from Keene Perspectives, PLLC.

The Social Media Committee is prioritizing free CE resources for members, establishing a greater presence on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Yearly Progress
As evinced above, the Events Committee, Insurance Advocacy Committee, Social Media Committee, Website Committee, Annual Meeting Committee, And Annual Conference Committee provided outreach and professional development for the current members and those new to the field of behavior analysis.

Gains in record keeping, financial documentation, organizational structure, enumeration of responsibilities for officers, governance policies, specificity in roles, and delineation of timelines continue.

Finances
Historically, the annual conference has been both the biggest expenditure and greatest source of income. The fees for the annual conference have been reduced this year. An allocation for a certified public account was included as a line item in this year’s budget. Monies were allocated to the website committee, and budget procedures were revised. In addition to the monthly fee for budgeted for website management, additional specificity for fees outside the monthly website management fee are accounted for in more detail. The 2020 budget has been reconciled, and all accounts in good standing. VtABA had minimal additional spending in 2020. New spending included the following: the purchase of the Zoom webinar feature and items to raffle at events. Exploring a new venue to host the annual conference was postponed. The board proposed and approved a balanced 2021 budget. Monthly expenses include website management, Google expenses, and maintenance of the VtABA domain. Annual expenses include the annual meeting, annual conference, ACE expenses through the BACB, the post office box, ABAI membership, filing taxes, subcommittee funds, and the biennial report. Our potential future spending and plans for 2021 include the following:

  • Events Committee continuing to work on webinars,
  • adding a CPA to the budget,
  • sponsoring trainings and events consistent with our mission,
  • continuing to bring in speakers from outside New England,
  • hosting conferences at venues (COVID-19 restrictions allowing),
  • looking at changes to website, and
  • allocating website committee funds for website upkeep and maintenance.

Future Directions
The board solicited input from members on their behavior analytic topics and interests for future professional development. Future directions for the board include planning quarterly events, creating efficacious processes for hosting webinars, increasing CE opportunities, and holding networking events. Ease with navigating the website and improving the member management platform are additional objectives. Another priority for the committee is continuing the dissemination of behavior analytic content, information, and information via social media.

COVID-19
The most significant impact of COVID-19 is the postponed events and associated fees. Rather than accept the refunds offered from venues, the board opted to support the businesses and have them hold the deposits to use at future events.

The impact of COVID-19 had a deleterious effect on VtABA’s finances. The negative influences were experienced in postponed events resulting in refunds of monies to attendees and funds paid to other businesses to use for future events. The annual conference is our largest source of income and the cancellation of the 2020 conference affected the board’s finances. As a result of the pandemic, fewer monies are budgeted for the 2021 annual conference because the board is not incurring the cost of avenue. The board voted to change the fee for the annual conference for 2021.