Education partnership makes a difference in the field of behavioral health

The Carolina Center for ABA & Autism Treatment has provided services to children with autism and their families throughout North Carolina since 2006. During this time, the relatively new field of applied behavior analysis (ABA) has undergone significant changes. Organizations such as the Carolina Center have had to evolve alongside new developments in treatment while recognizing the growing education and training needs of their staff.

The challenges of a relatively new field

Denise DeCandia, founder and chief business development officer of the Carolina Center, gives context to some of the challenges currently facing the ABA field. “There are over 1.3 million children in the U.S. with a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder, but nowhere near enough clinicians to meet those needs,” she says.

As institutions struggle to provide access to much-needed ABA services, organizations like the Carolina Center are working hard to build their talent pool and retain and develop their current teams through educational partnerships, one of them being with Capella University. “We’ve seen a significant shift over the past decade,” DeCandia explains. “Back then, a lot of our efforts were geared toward advocating for services for families and working to secure funding so that families can receive those services.” As those efforts proved successful, and since the advent of insurance mandates, the result has been a widening need for care. “We need enough skilled, trained professionals who can provide that support – today,” DeCandia says.

Meanwhile, many of the professionals who have entered the ABA and behavioral space are new to the field. Derick Hamilton, director of professional development and training at the Carolina Center, explains that, “a huge portion of BCBAs [Board Certified Behavior Analysts] working today have been certified less than five years ago. Many of these individuals have been certified less than two years.” As a result, organizations such as the Carolina Center need to impart knowledge, training and professional development opportunities to a large segment of their workforce.

A partnership designed to provide solutions

Beyond providing in-house training, expanding access to external content is also key. “Our goal is to steward our BCBAs to meaningful and high-quality content from our education partners,” Hamilton notes. “And those partners help ensure that graduates enter the workforce with solid competence in a variety of areas.”

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Strategic Education, Inc. partners with organizations like The Carolina Center for ABA & Autism Treatment to create relevant opportunities to help recruit, retain and engage staff.

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