Special Learning Logo Light


After a 2 year hiatus, Dr. Jon Bailey and I are resuming our Ethics Webinar Training again. I’ve been studying the 2022 BCBA Ethics Code and am really pleased with the recent changes. I especially appreciate the inclusion of 1.07 Cultural Responsiveness and Diversity and 1.08 Nondiscrimination and 1.10 Awareness of Personal Biases and Challenges. Interpreted and applied as it was intended, I believe the Ethics Code can serve as a framework for driving best practices for Behavior Analysts and Behavior Technicians / RBTs.

And Yet…

We must address the chronic industry-wide problem of turnover among RBTs and BTs if we’re able to live up to the code. The Ethics Code is there to protect the consumer but HR practices and clinical practices are set up such that we’re abusing our most critical resource – RBTs and BTs.

Even for agencies with the best intentions, it’s virtually impossible to deliver quality services when turnover among direct care staff is over 70%. The constant disruption in services for clients means even those lucky enough to be receiving ABA services are progressing at a much slower rate than would be possible with continuity of service.

I’ve been in the field of ABA for nearly 12 years. Prior to that, I was incorporated. Personally, HR practices for RBTs and BTs don’t make any sense to me. This is the ONLY industry that I know of where financial risk is expected to be borne by groups of people least able to assume that risk.

If an RBT / BT is hired as a full-time employee, they expect to be working full time. They plan their lives around how much money they expect to receive working full time. Yet so many agencies employ the practice of ONLY paying RBTs for hours that they are delivering direct services. When a client cancels, RBTs don’t work. If they don’t work. They don’t get paid.

This practice is great for a company’s bottom line because they don’t have to “carry” overhead; the risk has completely shifted to the RBT/BT. But how is this fair? How does this make any sense? Among the stakeholders that comprise the care delivery team – company, BCBA, RBT, Client, Parent – the company is in the best position to assume the financial risk because the company is the one benefiting financially. Yet, in our field, most ABA organizations employ a model where the risk is expected to be borne by the RBTs.

How do we expect any loyalty when no loyalty is given? Employers must take the first step to figure out a rational risk/reward model to provide RBTs with financial stability by changing their business practices. Those employers who can develop a model to live up to their commitment to protecting the livelihood of their direct care staff by assuming the financial risk are ones who deserve to be acknowledged and celebrated because that’s the picture of an ethical organization.

How do we begin to affect systems-level change? We start by matching up these ethical agencies with the most committed RBTs.


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

This is an independent SL Hotline that is part of our VCAT service. This hotline has no connection with any other association or membership group.

Got a question you want a BCBA or other ABA expert to answer?
Fill in this form and one of our professionals will handle your question quickly and confidently. You can expect a response in 24-hours or less.