Welcome to the NJABA Advocacy page! As the Government Affairs Chair, Suzanne Buchanan, Psy.D., BCBA-D compiled this information. Please feel free to reach out with your ideas, questions, and more.
On January 13, 2020, Governor Phil Murphy signed the “Applied Behavior Analyst Licensing Act” that will, for the first time, require licensure for behavior analysts in New Jersey and thus provide the needed protections for the vulnerable populations who they serve.
The enactment of this law is a tangible investment in the health and safety of New Jersey residents – a top priority of the Murphy Administration. It is also the direct result of a shared vision, steadfast commitment, and critical leadership of the legislative sponsors, Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg (D-37), Senate Minority Leader Thomas Kean (R-21), Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker (D-16), and Assemblywoman Joann Downey (D-11). We thank the Governor and sponsors for working with Autism New Jersey and the New Jersey Association for Behavior Analysis to make this law a reality.
“This pivotal law provides the State of New Jersey with the legal authority to protect consumers, employers, and state agencies from individuals who make false claims regarding the necessary competence or whose practice is not consistent with the profession’s ethical and disciplinary standards,” said Suzanne Buchanan, Psy.D., BCBA-D, Executive Director of Autism New Jersey.
With the highest autism prevalence in the country (1 in 34) and thousands of families desperate to find treatment for their loved ones, the demand for ABA services in New Jersey far exceeds the available supply of qualified and competent behavior analysts. Such a combination of high demand and low supply creates a fertile environment for untrained professionals to capitalize on this need. Without the protections afforded by this law, such individuals were free to falsely portray to unsuspecting families that they can provide ABA expertise. As this demand increases, sole dependence on a national and voluntary board certification process is no longer adequate to protect consumers or prohibit abuses by under- and untrained professionals.
“Individuals with autism and their families deserve the highest quality of care,” said Senator Weinberg. “This law will ensure individuals with autism will be treated by professionals who have met appropriate standards. This is a win for families and a sign of New Jersey’s ongoing commitment to quality healthcare.”
Agreeing wholeheartedly with Senator Weinberg’s call for better care, Senator Kean describes how this law can reduce families’ challenges. “When a professional is not skilled in behavior analysis, they can do more harm than good,” said Senator Kean. “This law addresses growing concerns about unlicensed, untrained, and unqualified practitioners. Behavior analysis is a powerful tool in the treatment of autism, developmental disabilities, and mental health issues that has shown great promise. It makes sense to ensure professionals in this growing field are properly educated and licensed.”
Assemblyman Zwicker and Assemblywoman Downey recognized the importance of taking action to make licensure available and mandatory for these professionals as the demand throughout the country and especially in New Jersey exceeds capacity and continues to increase. Assemblyman Zwicker and Assemblywoman Downey stated that this law “will help families feel more secure in knowing the services their loved ones receive from a behavior analyst are backed by both experience and licensure requirements.”
This law was also actively supported by the state-based trade organization and universities across the state.
“Well-trained behavior analysts offer highly specialized and effective services that improve individuals’ lives,” said Kate Cerino Britton, Ed.D., BCBA, President of the New Jersey Association for Behavior Analysis. “For example, behavior analysts have taught thousands of children and adults with autism communication, social, and life skills.”
Mary Louise Kerwin, Ph.D., BCBA-D, Director of the Center for Behavior Analysis at Rowan University said, “Given the tremendous unmet treatment needs of individuals with autism and other behavioral challenges, this licensure law is critical. It will provide consumers with an accountability mechanism and serve as the foundation for workforce development initiatives to improve the quality of life for tens of thousands of individuals here in New Jersey.”
This law establishes the State Board of Applied Behavior Analyst Examiners that will license Behavior Analysts, develop regulations for the practice of behavior analysis, and oversee the profession in the State of New Jersey. In the coming months, Governor Murphy will appoint members to this Board, and then Board will promulgate regulations that will provide more detail on the licensing process.
A summary of the law can be found here.
NJABA recognizes that the passage of this law raises questions about the next steps and requirements. The NJABA Government Affairs team is happy to answer your questions as best we can and will provide updates as they become available. For more information, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Behavior Analyst Licensing Act (A4608) sponsored by Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker (D-16) and Assemblywoman Joann Downey (D-11) passed the full Assembly by a vote of 76-1. We are grateful to the bill’s sponsors and the Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin (D-19) for their leadership and support of this important legislation.
The bill now moves over to the Senate where it has been referred to the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee. We will continue to provide updates as the bill advances through the legislative process.
On Thursday, January 24th, the Behavior Analyst Licensing Act (A4608) sponsored by Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker (D-16), and Assemblywoman Joann Downey (D-11) was posted for a vote in the Assembly Regulated Professions Committee. It passed through the committee unanimously.
NJABA and Autism New Jersey were present during the hearing and provided testimony in support of the bill. The committee, which is chaired by bill co-sponsor Assemblyman Thomas Giblin (D-34), heard requests for amendments from the Arc of NJ and the Alliance for the Betterment of Citizens with Disabilities (ABCD). NJABA Government Affairs Chair Dr. Suzanne Buchanan then responded to the requests for amendments in her testimony. To address these outstanding concerns, Chairman Giblin requested that Assemblyman Zwicker bring together these three agencies, and Assemblyman Zwicker agreed. The committee then voted to pass the bill without any amendments.
Similar to the Senate version of the bill, the Assembly version is now referred to the Assembly Appropriations Committee. We will continue to provide updates as the bill advances through the legislative process.
We would like to thank Autism New Jersey, Atlantic Health System, and the New Jersey Association of Community Providers (NJACP) for conveying their support to the Commerce and Regulated Professions committees.
On Monday, December 3rd, the Senate Commerce Committee and the Assembly Regulated Professions Committee heard testimony on the Behavior Analyst Licensing Act (S3099/A4608) sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg (D-37), Senate Minority Leader Thomas Kean, Jr. (R-21), Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker (D-16), and Assemblywoman Joann Downey (D-11). As leading advocates for this legislation, the New Jersey Association for Behavior Analysis (NJABA) and Autism New Jersey provided oral and written testimony in support of its passage.
Assembly Regulated Professions Committee
Chaired by Assemblyman Thomas Giblin (D-34), the Assembly Regulated Professions Committee posted the bill “for discussion only,” meaning the committee would hear testimony but not vote on the bill. A panel of experts (pictured above) including Dr. Suzanne Buchanan (Autism NJ), Patti Gianone (parent), Dr. Eric Rozenblat (NJABA), Dr. Robert LaRue (Rutgers University), and Dr. Patrick Progar (formerly of Princeton Child Development Institute) provided testimony and answered the committee members’ questions. The legislative committee members expressed their support of the bill and gratitude for our advocacy on such a critical issue.
Senate Commerce Committee
Moments later, the Senate Commerce Committee, chaired by Senator Nellie Pou (D-35) welcomed testimony from the same panel of experts and Sarah Lynn Geiger of the New Jersey Association of Health Plans, all in support of this legislation. There was no formal opposition to the bill, only testimony by the Arc of NJ requesting a few changes to the bill. Following some brief discussion, the Senate Commerce Committee unanimously voted (5-0) to pass the bill out of committee.
The Senate version of the bill now heads to the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee and, sometime in the next few months, the Assembly version will be heard in the Regulated Professions Committee for a vote. We will continue to provide updates as the bill advances through the legislative process.
We thank the following organizations for conveying their support to the Commerce and Regulated Professions committees.
On Monday, December 16, 2019, the Behavior Analyst Licensing Act (S3099/A4608) passed the New Jersey Senate and General Assembly by votes of 35-2 and 71-1, respectively. The bill now heads to Governor Murphy’s desk for his consideration.
These votes occurred amid an unusually robust agenda of bills on controversial topics and would not have been possible without the commitment and support of legislative leaders, Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-3) and Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin (D-19). Similarly, we are truly grateful to the bill’s sponsors, Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg (D-37), Senate Minority Leader Thomas Kean, Jr. (R-21), Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker (D-16), and Assemblywoman Joann Downey (D-11), for their steadfast advocacy and perseverance to ensure NJ residents and families are protected when seeking out and participating in behavior analytic services.
On Thursday, December 5th, the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee approved the Behavior Analyst Licensing Act (S3099/A4608). This bipartisan legislation is sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg (D-37), Senate Minority Leader Thomas Kean, Jr. (R-21), Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker (D-16), and Assemblywoman Joann Downey (D-11). NJABA and Autism New Jersey attended the committee hearing to show support and answer any questions from the committee.
After months of working with the legislative sponsors and other advocacy and trade organizations on a few amendments to the bill, we are pleased to see the bill advance towards becoming law. We thank the Budget Chairman Senator Paul Sarlo (D-36), Vice-Chairwoman Senator Sandra Cunningham (D-31), and the entire Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee for their support. We are also grateful for Senator Weinberg, Senator Kean, Assemblyman Zwicker, and Assemblywoman Downey’s continued commitment to establish state-level regulation and oversight of behavior analysts on behalf of New Jersey consumers.
The Senate version of the bill now heads to the full Senate for a floor vote and, although the bill already received full support from the General Assembly (76-1), it must return there for a concurrence vote due to the recent amendments. If the bill passes, the Legislature sends it to the Governor’s desk.
The New Jersey Association for Behavior Analysis (NJABA) and Autism New Jersey are pleased to announce their strong endorsement of new legislation sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg (D-37), Senate Minority Leader Thomas Kean (R-21) and Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker (D-16) titled, “Behavior Analyst Licensing Act.” The bill will, for the first time, require licensure for behavior analysts in New Jersey and thus provide the needed protections for the vulnerable populations who they serve.
The following webinars will provide you with opportunities to learn more about the licensing of behavior analysts and its impact on consumers and the profession.
Hosted by: Autism NJ and NJABA
Presenter: Gina Green, Ph.D., BCBA-D, Executive Director of the Association of Professional Behavior Analysts
CEU Information: CEUs are no longer available under the Type 3 option.
The webinars are free, but registration is required.
Thank you to the 220 participants who attended our licensure information session in April and May. We had some great discussions, heard many well thought out questions, and received valuable feedback that will assist us with this initiative. The evaluations for all three sessions were very positive, and the comments made it clear that the attendees appreciated the efforts to educate them on this topic.
We would also like to thank Suzanne Buchanan, Psy.D., BCBA-D, the NJABA Board of Directors and the following panelists for taking time out of their busy schedules to present and show their support for licensure in New Jersey.
|MaryLou Kerwin, Ph.D., BCBA-D||Kenneth Reeve, Ph.D., BCBA-D||Bob LaRue, Ph.D., BCBA-D|
|Patrick Progar, Ph.D., BCBA-D||Bridget Taylor, Psy.D., BCBA-D||Kevin Brothers, Ph.D., BCBA-D|
|David Wilson, Ph.D., BCBA-D||Eric Rozenblat, Ph.D., BCBA-D||Frances Perrin, Ph.D., BCBA-D|
The NJABA Government Affairs (GA) team has been advocating for the ethical and effective delivery of behavior analytic services and the profession since the organization’s inception. We are dedicated to advancing licensure and state-based standards for provider qualifications for the practice of behavior analysis.
The GA team educates state officials about the profession and how clients’ lives are substantially impacted by access to care, reimbursement rates, provider qualification standards, funding, quality assurance, and more.
Here are our major accomplishments to date.