OLR Bill Analysis
AN ACT CONCERNING BEHAVIOR ANALYSTS.
This bill requires behavior analysts to be licensed by the Department of Public Health (DPH). To obtain a license, an applicant must be (1) certified by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (“board”) or (2) eligible for licensure by endorsement. Current law prohibits representing oneself as a “board certified behavior analyst” unless certified by the board.
Among other exemptions, the bill's licensure requirement does not apply to individuals providing behavior analysis while acting within the scope of their professional licenses and training, as long as they do not hold themselves out as behavior analysts.
The bill eliminates current provisions on required qualifications for individuals providing applied behavior analysis as part of special education services for students with autism spectrum disorder. Under the bill, as for others providing behavioral analysis, such individuals must (1) be licensed or (2) qualify under one of the bill's licensure exemptions.
The bill sets the grounds for DPH disciplinary action against licensees and specifies that no new regulatory board is created for behavior analysts. It also specifies that assistant behavior analysts must work under a licensed behavior analyst's supervision. (By law, assistant analysts must be board certified.)
The bill also makes technical and conforming changes.
EFFECTIVE DATE: January 1, 2018
BEHAVIOR ANALYST LICENSURE
Behavior Analysis Definition (§ 1)
Under the bill, “behavior analysis” is the design, implementation, and evaluation of environmental modifications, using behavior stimuli and consequences, to produce socially significant improvement in human behavior. This may include direct observation, measurement, and functional analysis of the relationship between the environment and behavior. The term does not include psychological testing, neuropsychology, cognitive therapy, sex therapy, psychoanalysis, hypnotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, psychotherapy, or long-term counseling.
Licensure Requirement and Exemptions (§ 2)
Under current law, it is a class D felony, punishable by imprisonment for up to five years, a fine of up to $5,000, or both, for someone not board-certified to represent himself or herself as a board certified behavior analyst. The bill removes the criminal penalty and instead generally prohibits anyone without a behavior analyst license from (1) practicing behavior analysis or (2) using the title “behavior analyst” or any title, words, letters, or abbreviations that may reasonably be confused with behavior analyst licensure.
These restrictions do not apply to:
1. individuals who provide behavior analysis or assist in the practice of behavior analysis while acting within the scope of practice of their license and training, as long as they do not hold themselves out to the public as behavior analysts;
2. students enrolled in a board-accredited behavior analysis educational program or a graduate education program in which behavior analysis is an integral part of the course of study, if they are performing behavior analysis or assisting in such analysis under a licensed behavior analyst's direct supervision;
3. instructors in board-approved courses;
4. assistant behavior analysts working under a licensed behavior analyst's supervision in accordance with board standards;
5. individuals implementing an intervention based on behavior analysis under a licensee's supervision; or
6. family members, guardians, or caretakers implementing a behavior analysis treatment plan under a licensee's direction.
License Applications, Qualifications, and Renewals (§§ 3 & 4)
The bill requires the DPH commissioner to issue a behavior analyst license to any applicant who submits, on a DPH form, satisfactory evidence that he or she is board certified as a behavior analyst.
The bill also allows for licensure by endorsement for individuals who are not board certified. Such an applicant must provide DPH with satisfactory evidence that he or she is licensed or certified as a behavior analyst (or as someone entitled to perform similar services under a different title) in another state or jurisdiction. That jurisdiction's requirements for practicing must be substantially similar to or greater than those in Connecticut, and there must be no pending disciplinary actions or unresolved complaints against the applicant.
The license application fee is $350. Licenses must be renewed every two years for $175. To renew, licensees must provide satisfactory evidence that they are board certified. (Thus, individuals licensed by endorsement must become board certified if they seek to renew their license.)
Enforcement and Disciplinary Action (§ 5)
The bill allows the DPH commissioner to take disciplinary action against a licensed behavior analyst for:
1. failing to conform to accepted professional standards;
2. a felony conviction;
3. fraud or deceit in obtaining or seeking reinstatement of a license or in the practice of behavior analysis;
4. negligence, incompetence, or wrongful conduct in professional activities;
5. an inability to conform to professional standards because of a physical, mental, or emotional illness;
6. alcohol or substance abuse; or
7. willfully falsifying entries in any hospital, patient, or other behavior analysis record.
By law, disciplinary actions available to DPH include (1) revoking or suspending a license, (2) censuring the violator, (3) issuing a letter of reprimand, (4) placing the violator on probation, or (5) imposing a civil penalty of up to $25,000 (CGS § 19a-17). As under existing law for various other health professions, the bill allows the commissioner to order a licensee to undergo a reasonable physical or mental examination if his or her capacity to practice safely is under investigation.
The bill allows the commissioner to petition Hartford Superior Court to enforce such an examination order or any disciplinary action he takes. He must give the person notice and an opportunity to be heard before taking disciplinary action.
Behavior Analysis Services for Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (§ 8)
By law, school districts must provide applied behavior analysis for students with autism spectrum disorder who require the services (1) according to a special education individualized education program or (2) under an educational plan established under section 504 of the 1973 federal Rehabilitation Act.
Under current law, to provide these services, a person generally must either be (1) licensed by DPH or certified by the State Department of Education (SDE) and the services must be within the scope of the license or certificate or (2) board certified as a behavior analyst or assistant behavior analyst. If the SDE commissioner determines that there are not enough such individuals as needed, current law allows her to authorize others with certain educational backgrounds to provide the services, under the supervision of a board-certified behavior analyst.
The bill eliminates these provisions and instead requires individuals providing behavior analysis to students with autism to either be licensed or exempt from licensure as specified above (see § 2).
Public Health Committee