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I recently had someone reach out to me with this statement:

“People will just expect that financially employers can just pay for canceled sessions when we often cannot. We can’t survive if we pay people when every session is canceled.”

To this, I would respond yes and no. As an entrepreneur, it is up to us to absorb the business risk because we are the beneficiaries of the reward. So developing and implementing risk mitigation strategies become very important when you own your own business. But this means that you have to understand the risk factors.

Given the nature of the ABA Provider business, it’s critically important that a business be well-capitalized to ride out not just the challenges with insurance and payor reimbursement but also competition for talent and competition for clients from larger, much better-funded competitors, particularly those owned by PE-backed companies.

Another way to mitigate the client cancellation risk is to establish clear boundaries, discuss acceptable behavior and explain the consequences to all involved parties (child, parent, agency, BT/RBT, BCBA, and funding sources).

An agency that I consider to be one of the best in the country spends an inordinate amount of time on client selection. Their intake process is extremely thorough and takes into consideration the needs of her staff members as well as the needs of the client. Expectations are covered in detail and frequent reinforcement is provided. All this work is done ahead of time because there is a cost to the business and people when client turnover happens unexpectedly.

A question to agency owners… “Do your parents understand the consequences of unplanned cancellations to your organization and BTs/RBTs? If they did, would their behavior change?” If the answer is a “no” I would consider whether your client selection criteria need to be reevaluated.

On the r/ABA Reddit form, BTs and RBTs are talking among themselves about whether to have these types of conversations directly with parents. But the responsibility to have these uncomfortable conversations shouldn’t fall on the lowest ranking member of the clinical / leadership team.

Client selection and client relationship management should be a workflow that is looked at closely in any organization. Are your clients happy with their child’s progress? Do they know how to measure progress? If they don’t, why not?

There’s an entire section in the 2022 BCBA Ethics Code – Section 2 – Responsibility in Practice and Section 3 – Responsibility to Clients and Stakeholders that addresses these areas but based upon anecdotal evidence, the field seems to be far off the mark.


Parent Waitlist Program


November 02, 2023 | 12pm-1pm PDT

Journey to Independence

Community-based program designed to support families on waitlist

Being an RBT for me was extremely fun because where were you going to find a place where you can be completely silly without having to worry what people thought about you? This was the only job that made me feel like I could make a dramatic difference while being myself.

I also liked to be surrounded by people that had the same goals of wanting to help kids and the teamwork made the job much easier and more enjoyable.

Change and progress was the ultimate goal for our kiddos. The early intervention program was seriously only a miracle because I saw changes in the kiddos that from day one, you wouldn’t even recognize who they were.

Changes from being able to utter 3-4 words where they can only make a syllable from when they started, the behavior decreases in which kiddo that used to engage in 30-40 0 self-harm to only half, learning how to wait during games, table work where they use to swipe and drop to the floor if they had to.

My favorite was when the parents would tell us what amazing progress they were making at home. I used to tear up and felt for these parents so much because it was already difficult for them and now, they can trust and rely on ABA and the therapists knowing their goal was ours.

By Emma Rogers, BA, RBT

Mother Child
Special Learning’s Free Hotline

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