Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady University’s Registered Behavior Technician Program is the only one of its kind in Louisiana and will be free for 20 selected students.
The eight-week RBT program will launch October 2022 with the support of the Wilson Foundation. The primary goal of the program is to train students for a career in applied behavior analysis, which is known for its application as a therapy for children with autism spectrum disorder. Currently, ABA is the only empirically supported treatment for this population and the prevalence of children who receive a diagnosis of ASD has been on the rise for over a decade. Currently, the CDC estimates that 1 in 44 children receive a diagnosis of ASD by the time they are 8. Together these factors, create a huge need for highly skilled technicians to work in this field.
The field is rewarding and offers a variety of career options. As a registered behavior technician, or RBT, an individual’s job duties would include providing the one-on-one therapy. Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analysts are individuals who provide supervision of therapeutic services, assessments, monitor and report client progress. Individuals credentialed as a Board Certified Behavior Analysts oversee all aspects of services delivery. FranU offers the required training for individuals wishing to pursue careers in ABA, as a RBT, BCaBA, and will begin accepting application for its new BCBA program soon.
Most RBT training programs in Louisiana are outsourced to online programs outside of the state. These programs may be difficult to complete and do not provide opportunities for trainees to receive hands-on learning experiences that may enhance their preparedness to enter the field. To address these issues FranU will offer an enhanced RBT program that will launch in October. The program will include an online component to accommodate adult learners as well as a brief but immersive practical component that will take place at the Emerge Center. During their practical experience, students will receive direct supervision as they learn to apply behavioral services to children with autism spectrum disorder. Program completers will be afforded immediate employment opportunities through sponsorships with local autism spectrum disorder focused clinics.
Thanks to the support of the Huey and Angelina Wilson Foundation, FranU announced that beginning this Fall, and subject to availability, up to 20 students in the Baton Rouge area will be selected to receive a 100% tuition reduction for the RBT course. Candidates will be evaluated based on financial need, zip code in the Greater Baton Rouge area, identifying as a person of color or another underrepresented group in healthcare and has completed FAFSA as another goal of the initiative is to increase diversity of the workforce practicing ABA.
As admitted FranU students, trainees will have access to other resources in the area such as counseling and tutoring that is not commonly available from other sponsoring institutions. The training experience will also include collaboration with local clinics to allow completers to seamlessly matriculate into a career field with a livable wage and significant capacity for continued professional development in the field of behavior analysis. Trainees will have access to connect with representatives of local clinics to learn more about their missions and expedite matriculation into RBT career upon completion.
Tracy Lepper, who is a Board-Certified Behavior Analyst-Doctoral, will lead this project. She has been approved by the Association for Behavior Analysis International as an instructor and has taught behavior-analytic courses for over 10 years. “A strong candidate will be an individual who has a passion to serve their community, work in a clinical setting, and help individuals with disabilities,” she continued, “As an RBT, you not only get to witness some of the awesome changes that can occur during therapy for a client, such as hearing a client say their first word, respond to their name for the first time, make a new friend, or learn skills that allow them to be safe and as independent as possible, but you also get to be an active participant on the team that helps make those things happen.”
A ceremony for completers of the program will be held at the end of the summer to celebrate this accomplishment and bring more awareness to this career field so that the pool of qualified technicians can be replenished each summer.
Lepper explained that the project is meant to have positive impacts on several populations. “First, the direct benefit would be to the individual recipient who is offered the opportunity for free RBT training and job placement services. According to Glassdoor.com, the national average annual salary for RBTs is around $37,000, which is greater than the annual median individual income reported by the US Census Bureau for the base year 2019. Second, by increasing the number of RBTs in the greater Baton Rouge area, we hope to indirectly benefit the local clinics that provide behavior-analytic services to children with ASD by increasing the number of qualified employee candidates and reducing the resources the clinics need to allocate for training new RBTs. Lastly, we hope by increasing the number of qualified service providers in ABA locally, we will reduce the number of children with ASD in our community who are not able to access desired ABA services.”
The unmet need for qualified ABA practitioners has grave impacts. For example, disparities in access to behavior-analytic services for Black children with ASD have been cited as a potential cause for the higher prevalence of comorbid intellectual deficits among these children compared to White and Hispanic children with ASD (e.g., CDC, 2019). Therefore, FranU hopes to address some of the demand for behavior-analytic services by offering free RBT training and job placement to as many as 20 individuals hailing from underserved communities which in turn could provide those recipients with a path towards a career in ABA.
Since the start of the ABA Certificate Program in the fall of 2019, the program has achieved and continues to strive toward many goals related to scholarship, service to the community, and increasing access to ABA services in the Baton Rouge Area. As of Spring 2022, two cohorts, consisting of nine total certificate recipients, completed the ABA certificate program.
The RBT course will be offered each semester in October, January and May. Admission requirements include completed application and payment of application fee; Graduation from high school with a minimum GPA of 2.0 or completion of the GED exam with a minimum score of 400.
Interested candidates should apply for the course by completing the undergraduate application found at franu.edu/applications. They can also go to the website franu.edu/rbt or email Tracy.firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.