Photo by Cameron Venti on Unsplash

By Susan Ainsleigh

The Massachusetts Association for Applied Behavior Analysis (MassABA) was established in 2010 to support the science and practice of behavior analysis in Massachusetts. As the home of over 2700 BCBA®s, 150 BCBA-D®s, and 47 BCaBA®s, Massachusetts boasts among the highest per capita concentration of certified behavior analysts in the world and an active behavior analytic community. The vision of MassABA is to serve as the trade organization for this community. MassABA has focused its efforts to fulfill this vision by:

  • Supporting behavior analysts seeking licensure by assuring that licensure applications are processed in a timely manner;
  • Supporting legislation that would strengthen the licensure process in Massachusetts with the creation of a separate licensing board for behavior analysts;
  • Supporting the expansion of insurance coverage for ABA services;
  • Advocating for timely reimbursement of ABA services by state funding sources;
  • Expanding regional continuing education events for behavior analysis practitioners in more remote locations of the region;
  • Expanding interaction and correspondence with MassABA members via social media;
  • Advocating for behavior analytic professionals practicing in public schools by organizing a monthly networking event and advocating for adequate supports for BCBAs in public schools;
  • Hosting an annual conference that brings diverse behavior analytic voices and applications to our membership.

2020/21 Overview
In 2020, a global pandemic occurred which impacted all aspects of service delivery of applied behavior analysis in the Commonwealth of MA (as well as likely nationally and globally). The COVID-19 pandemic continues as of the writing of this report. MassABA has continued to focus its efforts on each of the above goal areas; however, many goals and activities were impacted by governmental restrictions imposed by the pandemic.

Legislative Update
Over the past year MassABA has continued to work with state government leaders to keep them abreast of issues of importance to our membership, as well as to advocate for legislative change that would strengthen service delivery. This included continued support for a bill to create an independent licensing board to oversee LABA in Massachusetts. This bill was not successfully passed in 2020 but has been refiled in 2021. MassABA, in collaboration with BABAT and MassCAP, also provided support for statements advocating access to COVID-19 vaccination for ABA providers, and advocating insurance coverage for telehealth services during the pandemic. Finally, MassABA board members, in collaboration with BABAT and MassCAP, provided feedback on documentation standards proposed by the Behavioral Health Center for Excellent (BHCOE®) in 2020; these standards are in the final review process.

Insurance Update
MassABA has been a consistent supporter for broadening insurance accessibility for recipients of ABA in MA, and for providing ABA providers in Massachusetts with increased information about insurance coverage and changes. During 2020, MassABA cosponsored, with the Autism Insurance Resource Center, several continuing education events that included updates on insurance coverage, provision of telehealth services, and insurance documentation requirements. These were offered as remote events for increased access during the pandemic. These events were offered free of charge to MassABA members.

Strategic Planning & Implementation Update
MassABA completed a strategic planning process in 2018. Monthly review of the strategic plan occurs by the Board of Directors, and many initiatives are underway to achieve the goals dictated by this plan. In 2020, these included the following:

  • Roll-out of the use of a membership management service, to better track, solicit feedback from, and communicate with members of MassABA;
  • Increasing of affordable access to continuing education opportunities, specifically remote options due to COVID 19 pandemic;
  • Creation of a Diversity and Inclusion Committee, to better address the needs to diverse service providers and recipients in MA;
  • Continued engagement with members via social media.

Professional Development Update
MassABA has a history of holding an extraordinarily successful annual conference, typically drawing over 700 participants. Due to COVID19 pandemic restrictions, this event was cancelled in 2020. This had a major impact on MassABA revenue, as well as MassABA ability to network and interact with members.

To accommodate distancing requirements and financial challenges faced by many providers, MassABA facilitated a free summer/ fall CE Series in 2020, with monthly CE Events held at either no cost or minimal cost to members. These events averaged 100+ participants per session. MassABA is planning a remote, 1-day conference in 2021 and hopes to resume onsite conferences and CE Events in 2022, to coincide with continued remote events. MassABA also continued to cosponsor events with the Autism Insurance Resource Center in 2020, as well as providing MassABA members via its website information on provision of effective telehealth services.

MassABA’s active Public-School Committee co-sponsored a monthly networking event for BCBAs working in public schools in the Commonwealth titled: Professional Practices Symposium for Behavior Analysts: Developing Effective ABA Programs in Public School Systems. This monthly event continued in 2020 with remote events, due to the pandemic restrictions. Over 100 BCBAs working in public school districts around the Commonwealth attended. A series of speakers accompanied opportunities to network and problem solve challenges associated with behavioral service delivery in public school settings.

MassABA’s newly formed Diversity Committee offered professional development events in 2020–21, reviewing current literature on diversity and inclusion initiative in the field of ABA.

Committee Action
MassABA has several active committees who work to address specific areas of interest to our members. These committees include:

  • The Public School BCBA Committee
  • The Legislative Committee
  • The Diversity and Inclusion Committee
  • The Conference and Events Committee

MassABA looks forward to continuing to be at the forefront of policy making and professionalization of service provision in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. We recognize that the rapid growth of providers of ABA services requires that the field step up to meet the challenge of supporting these new practitioners with resources to help ensure that they are providing high quality and effective ABA services. MassABA will continue to focus its efforts to ensure that we strengthen the science and practice behavior analysis.

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