Act 62 of 2008 created the license requirement for behavior specialists; however, in recent years, a significant issue has arisen due to the narrow licensure requirement for behavior specialists specified. This has jeopardized access to early intervention services for many children with autism. For the past several months, RCPA government affairs and policy staff, along with RCPA members in southwestern Pennsylvania, have been working with Representative Dan Miller (D-Allegheny) to draft an amendment to address this concern.
Under Act 62, a behavior specialist must obtain 1,000 hours of direct clinical experience with individuals with behavioral challenges to apply for the licensure. Degree-granting programs generally do not include this level of direct clinical experience in their coursework or internships. Thus, graduates must either plan employment throughout their coursework or take lower paying jobs post-graduation.
Representative Miller’s proposed amendment will:
- Allow licensed behavior specialists to supervise non-licensed, graduate-level clinicians providing autism services while they obtain the 1,000 required hours of clinical experience to apply for licensure.
- Establish a temporary practice license that could be granted to the graduate-level clinician as they obtain their service hours under the supervision of allow licensed behavior specialists, licensed physicians, and licensed psychologists.
- Amend the educational requirements of a behavior specialist to recognize those individuals who are Board Certified Behavioral Analysts.
RCPA is strongly encouraging members to contact their local Representative and encourage her or him to sign onto the co-sponsorship memo, Protect Access to Autism Services-Behavioral Specialist Consultant Licensure, in support of the creation of a temporary behavior specialist license.