5 Effective Strategies to Diversify Funding for ABA Services

By Tina Patterson, M.Ed., BCBA

Guest Author

As Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) continues to grow as an established, effective methodology for teaching new skills to all individuals with and without disabilities, practitioners need to establish interventions that are accessible to all.   ABA practices and procedures can be funded through medical and social service entities as well as through the public education service sector.  Consider these five recommendations for diversifying funding for ABA services:

Respectful Discourse

Expert knowledge and kind words go hand-in-hand if you want to build relationships with professionals in education and clinical organizations.  Keep in mind that parents/caregivers and clinical professionals have different ideas about interventions for people with disabilities and behavioral challenges.  When providing ABA-based interventions, be sure to consider your words carefully and build bridges towards collaborative communication and problem solving.  When you are able to build a collaborative working team, then respect for knowledge will flow in both directions.

Federal Regulations

Review with parents/caregivers the US Department of Education’s federal regulations for special education services, IDEA, which is available for all children from birth to 21 years old.  This federal law applies in all states for all children at-risk or who have a medical, psychiatric or educational disability.

IDEA Regulatory Principles:

-Every child has the right to a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE), so every school must accept every child, including children with disabilities.

-If a child is suspected of having a disability, they have the right to an evaluation (i.e., assessment) in every area of functioning, including a Functional Behavior Assessment (FBA).

-Every child with a disability has the right to a written Individualized Education Plan (IEP), which includes a written skill acquisition plan and behavior reduction plan.

-Every child with a disability has the right to the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE), placement in educational settings with their ‘non-disabled’ peers, which promotes maintenance and generalization of behavioral, academic and social skills.

-Every child with a disability, and their parents/caregivers, has the right to discuss and meet with the educational team (IEP team) regarding the progress of interventions and other concerns.

-When a parent/caregiver decides that their child is not making progress or not receiving needed services, they have the right to challenge the IEP team’s decisions, aka, Due Process.

Below, are a few regulations included in IDEA, which specifically identify Positive Behavior Support (PBS) and Functional Behavior Assessment (FBA).

Sec. 615(k)(1)(D)(ii)

“receive, as appropriate, a functional behavioral assessment, behavioral intervention services and modifications, that are designed to address the behavior violation so that it does not recur.”

Sec. 665(b)(1)(B)

“training for administrators, teachers, related services personnel, behavioral specialists, and other school staff in positive behavioral interventions and supports, behavioral intervention planning, and classroom and student management techniques…”

Sec. 614(d)(3)(C)

“Requirement with respect to regular education teachers. A regular education teacher of the child, as a member of the IEP Team, shall, to the extent appropriate, participate in the development of the IEP of the child, including the determination of appropriate positive behavioral interventions and supports, and other strategies, and the determination of supplementary aids and services, program modifications, and support for school personnel consistent with paragraph (1)(A)(i)(IV).”

Public School Data

Every school in the US reports their academic and behavioral data to the US Department of Education.  When you look up their ‘state report card’ you will find the student performance rates for academic subjects such as reading and math for students in general education and special education.  In addition, you will find rates of performance for these two groups in the discipline area.  You can then compare student suspension and expulsions rates and develop a presentation to the local school district using their specific discipline rates for the past few years.  In other words, use their data to show how you can help reduce problem behaviors and increase academic and social skills.  To find your state and local school report cards, a key word search should include the state name and the words, “state report card,” example: “Tennessee state report card.”

Present Data (Evidence)

Make an appointment to meet with the directors of Special Education in local school districts and present data of skill acquisition and behavior reduction progress with clients who will be or are currently attending the public school, being careful to rename/hide identifying information to protect the client’s right for confidentiality.  When you establish a relationship within local public schools and show that you want to work with them and not against them, you will experience an increase in referrals from them.  This results in a reliable funding source with opportunities to help children who do not have access to healthcare.

Request for Hours

Model the request for 1:1 ABA hours after Emory University’s Walden School: start small and increase slowly, for example, begin with 1-3 hours a day and gradually increase or decrease based on the child’s progress and staff rates of fidelity.


tina-pattersonAbout Tina Patterson, M.Ed., BCBA:  Over the past 18 years, I have used these guidelines to secure contracts with local, state and international educational agencies, both public and private.  My expertise primarily covers the areas of developmental disabilities, behavioral pharmacology and mental illness.  Currently, I provide e-learning for RBTs and tele-health services to clients in other countries who do not have access to training in the field of ABA.  For further information, feel free to contact me at:  [email protected]

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