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Prior to starting Special Learning 12 years ago, I owned a retained executive search firm specializing in diversity and inclusion. Corporations with diversity initiatives would hire our firm to recruit a shortlist of highly qualified women and minority professionals for director and VP-level positions. I closed that business when in January of 2009, contracts that I had spent 12 to 18 mos securing (wth multinational companies like Microsoft, Nortel, Chase, Walmart, and others) suddenly began to disappear in what became the great depression of 2009.

As the field of ABA can’t support a true retained executive search model, I’ve been thinking about different hybrid models to bring the best of retained search methods – active sourcing – without the high price tag and commitment of paying guaranteed retainer fees.

I decided to see if would be possible to create a recruitment model to support the needs of independent ethical ABA organizations owned by BCBAs focusing on what they desperately need to scale — hiring BTs and RBTs. Actually, the bigger problem is retention, but you have to hire people to retain them so we started by tackling the recruitment problem first.

In February, we created and launched a program called RBT Pipeline Development. This program is designed to build a pipeline of RBTs to support an organization’s ongoing recruiting needs. The revenue model includes a small upfront retainer (to establish the program) but relies mostly on individual contingent success fees with a 90-day replacement guarantee.

We started our first project about 2 weeks ago representing a highly regarded, very ethically-run ABA Agency in PA owned by a BCBA with characteristics that I’m coming to realize as being necessary for ethical ABA organizations that can sustain themselves in this hyper-competitive industry:

(1) Well run company with strong infrastructure
(2) Capital reserves or ability to quickly access capital to withstand fluctuations in billing and reimbursements and to make investments in people and infrastructure
(3) Scheduling risk is absorbed by the company, not the employee
(4) Sufficient profit margin to invest in sound HR practices:
Full-time employment (with guaranteed hours)
Investments in ongoing training for ALL staff
(5) Clinical practices designed to ensure quality outcomes
RBT Onboarding training exceeds 40 hours minimum requirement
Ongoing professional development training offered to RBTs
Ability for RBTs to access other BCBAs for clinical questions if their supervisor is not available
10% supervision (weekly review of progress, establish appropriate goals, review progress with parents, and train RBT on new skills)
(6) Sound Client selection and client management practices (i.e enforcement of cancellation policies to minimize last-minute cancellations)
(7) Proactive scheduling practices
(8) Parent waitlist support


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.

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