By SungWoo Kahng & Stephanie Summers

The New Jersey Association for Behavior Analysis (NJABA) continues to advance the science and evidence-based practice of behavior analysis throughout New Jersey. With over 1250 members, we are a community of behavior analysts who support their consumers, conduct research, and train future behavior analysts. Furthermore, we strive for a diverse, equitable, and inclusive behavior analytic community.

     On March 3, 2023, we held our Annual Conference in Somerset, NJ. Approximately 562 attendees (in-person and remote) had the opportunity to learn from our Keynote Speaker, Dr. Janet Twyman, as well as many presentations and posters. For the first time, we also held our Pre-Conference Workshop led by Dr. Tyra Sellers. Attendance continues to grow every year, and our attendees continue to be extremely pleased with the professional development and networking opportunities. Plans are already underway for our next Annual Conference to be held in the Spring of 2024.

     Our Annual Conference is one of many events held throughout last year to support our community. On June 11, 2022, we held our first annual NJABA Science of Behavior Analysis Conference. This was an opportunity for our members to share the university-based research conducted in New Jersey. Additionally, attendees had the opportunity to hear from one of the leading behavior analytic scientists, Dr. Caio Miguel. Our 2nd annual NJABA Science of Behavior Analysis Conference will be held on June 10, 2023, at Caldwell University. Dr. Tara Fahmie will be the keynote speaker. We also continued our regular NJABA Speaker’s Series throughout the year covering topics such as Setting the Groundwork for Friendships: Facilitating Play Dates & Social Skills Groups; Teaching Toleration of Medical Examinations through Collaboration: Strategies to Improve Access to Healthcare for Individuals with Developmental Disabilities through Collaboration with Medical Personnel and Caregivers; What Every Behavior Analyst Needs to Know About Providing Services to Students in Special Education; More Than a Checkbox: Conceptualizing Supervision from Intake to Discharge;  Indices of Happiness and Unhappiness during Treatment for Pediatric Feeding Disorders.

     New Jersey continues to be a highly desirable state for behavior analysts. Membership has increased over 50% since 2022. One of our primary goals last year was to strive for equity by increasing support for students and behavioral technicians. These groups represent the future of our profession; therefore, it is our priority to ensure that they are a part of our community. To do this, we reduced one barrier to their participation by eliminating membership fees and keeping conference registration fees to a minimum.

     As we look to the future of behavior analysis in New Jersey, we must also recognize the pioneers who have helped to build our profession. Therefore, for the first time, we recognized the contributions of past leaders who laid the foundation for our community’s success by awarding the annual NJABA Distinguished Service Award. The 2022 recipient was Dr. Sandra Harris from Rutgers University who has been integral to service delivery, training, and research throughout New Jersey. The 2023 recipient was Dr. Greg McDuff from the Princeton Child Development Institute who was recognized for leading one of the groundbreaking autism schools in the country.

     Finally, we worked diligently to support the practice of behavior analysis in New Jersey through our special interest Workgroups. These NJABA Workgroups are a forum for us to engage with practitioners in the state about legal or policy changes that may impact behavior analytic service delivery and are focused on insurance, Medicaid, and business practices; adult supports; public schools, early intervention; diversity and inclusion; and ABA services in Spanish. Additionally, we started a Student Workgroup for early career professionals. These workgroups have provided critical networking opportunities for practitioners in the state.

     We have also worked to advocate for the practice of behavior analysis in New Jersey. Governor Phil Murphy signed the “Applied Behavior Analyst Licensing Act” into law in January 2020 and appointed six members of the State Board of Applied Behavior Analysis Examiners. The Board’s first draft of the regulations has been completed and is currently under administrative review. Additionally, we communicated information to our members about the New Jersey Higher Education Student Assistance Authority’s Behavioral Healthcare Provider Loan Redemption Program. This was a one-of-a-kind state-level program that provided up to $150,000 to Board Certified Behavior Analysts and other behavioral healthcare providers in loan redemption in exchange for service.

     NJABA continues to be a strong community of behavior analysts who provide service, conduct research, and train future professionals. All these many accomplishments are a function of our members and the many volunteers who dedicate their time to the success of the behavior analytic profession in New Jersey.

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