Parents/Caregivers: Interviewing ABA Providers


Recently, there were many publicized and non-publicized mass closings in the ABA industry. This means many people lost their jobs. It also means many clients abruptly lost access to needed services.

Since this happened, I've talked to parents from all over wanting to know how to recognize a private equity backed company or how to spot warning signs or clues of a low-quality provider. 

It won't always be possible to see shutdowns/company closures coming, and just because things start off going well doesn't mean they will continue that way. Just ask all the families who started off 2020 happily receiving ABA services, and then COVID hit, and then.....yeah.

While there is always some level of trust required, and some element of risk when initiating services with any provider, I also care very much about helping caregivers develop the skills to weed out low-quality providers and avoid the worst of the bunch. 

The biggest tip I can give is the title of this post: interview providers.

Please don't just Google providers in your area, and sign up for services with the company that answers the phone the quickest. This is far, far too important not to do your due diligence. Treat this with the same level of seriousness as researching a new car to buy, or choosing your child's pediatrician, or deciding which private school is best. Choices are great, but choices also come with a responsibility to carefully evaluate each choice. Despite what many people think, nope, low-quality ABA treatment is NOT better than no treatment at all.

TONS of resources below--- use them, share them, download and print them. Listen to your "parent gut", ask questions, and watch for discrepancies between what you are being told and what you actually receive. No provider should start off the client/company relationship lying to you, hiding information, dodging your calls, etc. Yet, I hear stories like that from families all the time (e.g. "Its been bad like this since the very beginning..."). Be a picky parent, and advocate for what you know your child needs. 

Many of the anti-ABA voices out there are products of low-quality, unethical, and terrible ABA services. The potential for harm and mistreatment is high in situations where clients are working with poorly trained, poorly supervised, poorly equipped, or horribly overworked RBTs, BCaBA's, or BCBAs. If it doesn't feel right, it probably isn't right. Conversely, if it seems too good to be true it likely is.

**Caregiver resources**

Hiring Solo Providers: Hiring Direct Staff, Hiring a BCBA, Parent-Led services

Choosing a Company: Center or Clinic, Choosing an ABA Provider, Questions to Ask a Potential Provider, Tips for Choosing a Provider, Sample Interview Questions , More Tips for Choosing

Evaluating the Quality of Treatment: Is it ABA?, Is it Good ABA?, High Quality Treatment, How to Recognize High Quality ABA, What is Good ABA, 30 Indicators of Quality ABA, Helping Parents Choose Treatment

What is Private Equity: PE and ABA, PE and Autism Care, The Impact of PE, List of PE backed providers

Ethical Responsibilities of RBTs, BCBAs, and BCaBAs (Practitioners have ethical guidelines, not companies/organizations. Consumers can file complaints about unethical organizations to their insurance provider, Better Business Bureau, applicable accreditation board, or are encouraged to consider legal action): BACB Ethics, ABA Ethics Hotline, Reporting Licensed Practitioners

Signs of a Low-Quality/Unethical Provider: Good v. Bad ABA, Signs of Low Quality Staff, Exploring Quality in ABA

Food for Thought about the current state of the industry: Low standards in the ABA Industry 

Free Handouts: Tips for Screening ABA Providers , What to Expect When Initiating ABA Services

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