Temporary Allowances for Experience/Fieldwork and Competency Assessments

Due to social distancing requirements during the COVID–19 pandemic, the BACB will allow temporary deviations for certain "with a client" requirements. As of March 1, the "observation with a client" sub–requirement that applies to Experience and Fieldwork will be temporarily waived for those without access to clients.

In addition, all RBT competency assessments received as of April 28, 2020 will allow "with a client" tasks to be fulfilled via "role play." For more information about how to qualify for these temporary exemptions, visit our COVID–19 Updates page and continue to monitor BACB correspondence.

Temporary Allowances for Experience/Fieldwork and Competency Assessments

April 28, 2020 (Modified August 11, 2020)

Due to social distancing requirements during the COVID–19 pandemic, we will provide temporary deviations for the following "with a client" requirements.

  • Experience and Fieldwork ("observation with a client") — As of March 1, and until further notice, we will temporarily waive the “observation with a client” sub-requirement for trainees who do not have in-person access to clients and, thus, are only accruing unrestricted hours. As always, all unrestricted activities must relate to a specific client’s needs.
    If you are a supervisor and you want your trainees to qualify for this temporary exception:
    • You (the supervisor) must complete the attestation for each month impacted.
    • You and your trainee must keep this document in your records.
    • In the event of a future audit, this form must be submitted for any of the qualifying months that were impacted.
    • RBT Competency Assessments ("with a client" tasks) — For all initial and renewal competency assessments received as of April 28, 2020, and until notified on the BACB's COVID–19 Updates page, we will temporarily allow the "with a client" tasks to be assessed in a role–play situation with a client surrogate.
      If you are a Responsible Assessor and you want those you are assessing to qualify for this temporary exception.
      • You (the Responsible Assessor) must complete the attestation and indicate on the Competency Assessment "role play."
      • You and the applicant/RBT must keep this document in your records.
      • The applicant/RBT must submit this document with the competency assessment when submitting their RBT certification or renewal application.

    Continue to monitor BACB correspondence and the COVID–19 Updates page for the date on which these temporary exceptions will no longer be allowed. This is only applicable for the sub–requirements stated above and does not apply to any other requirements.

Guidance for RBTs During COVID-19

April 3, 2020

The COVID–19 pandemic continues to raise a lot of fear and questions for many people around the world and our RBTs are no exception. First, rest assured that you're not alone during this challenging and unprecedented time. We're doing our best to offer guidance that allows you to make sound decisions about your livelihood and enables you to maintain your certification while responding to your questions as quickly as we can. We encourage all RBTs to take a moment to review the following information.

RBTs Who Are Unable to Provide ABA Services
If you've been furloughed or lost your job because of the pandemic, you do not need to report this to the BACB. Also, you will not lose your certification just because you're not working. One of the RBT maintenance requirements is to receive ongoing supervision for 5% of the hours that you provide behavior analysis services. However, if you're not providing or billing for services, you don't need supervision for the month and your certification will remain active as long as you still have an RBT Supervisor or Requirements Coordinator on record with us.

RBTs Who Are Providing ABA Services
If you're currently able to provide services, you must meet the RBT supervision requirements, but we may be more lenient about requirements that involve interacting with clients (e.g., the number of RBT–client observations). It's very important to maintain detailed documentation in case you're asked to complete a BACB requirements audit. That documentation should include information about how the pandemic has impacted your services, supervision, etc., and the steps you and your supervisor took to try to meet the requirements. While there's no need to report these details to us right now, you should document them now and report them to us when you submit your annual RBT Renewal Application. For more guidance on meeting RBT requirements during the COVID–19 pandemic, please read our March 17th “COVID–19 Update from the BACB,” on this page.

RBTs Who Don't Anticipate Using Their Certification Soon
If you don't expect to use your RBT certification any time soon, you can apply for voluntary inactive status. While on voluntary inactive status:

  • your certification is listed as “inactive” on the Certificant Registry
  • you may not practice, bill, or represent yourself as an RBT
  • you don't need to submit renewal applications
  • you may remain inactive for up to two years
  • you must complete the RBT Request to Return from Voluntary Inactive Status form when you're ready to reactivate your certification

Please note: You may not reapply for voluntary inactive status until you have completed at least one renewal cycle after returning from voluntary inactive status. Voluntary inactive status is beneficial because it allows you to pause your certification. When you're ready to reactivate it within the two years you are allotted, you don't have to meet all of the eligibility requirements again.

RBTs Who Are Due to Renew Their Certification Soon
If your RBT certification renewal is coming up, a process that includes completing the RBT Renewal Competency Assessment, and you are practicing, coordinate with your supervisor/assessor about meeting the renewal requirements.

For all initial and renewal competency assessments received as of April 28, 2020, and until notified on the BACB’s COVID–19 Updates page, we will temporarily allow the “with a client” tasks to be assessed in a role–play situation with a client surrogate.

If you are a Responsible Assessor and you want those you are assessing to qualify for this temporary exception.

  • You (the Responsible Assessor) must complete the attestation and indicate on the Competency Assessment “role play.”
  • You and the applicant/RBT must keep this document in your records.
  • The applicant/RBT must submit this document with the competency assessment when submitting their RBT certification or renewal application.

Have Questions About Providing Services?
If you have questions about how to provide services during this time (e.g., whether you can provide telehealth services), speak with your supervisor, employer, and/or professional associations. As a certification board, the BACB cannot provide specific direction or recommendations on these topics.

Episode 8: The COVID-19 Pandemic: A March 2020 Update

In this episode, Drs. Jim Carr and Melissa Nosik discuss BACB resources and guidance available to certificants in the face of the COVID–19 pandemic, and provide an update on important testing activities.
Resources:
COVID–19 Updates from the BACB
OnVUE Online Proctored Examinations

For a transcribed version of this episode, please watch the episode on our YouTube channel with closed captions.

BACB Suspends Fees for Voluntary Inactive Status Applications (This update has expired.)

July 6, 2020 Update: As of July 1, 2020, the unique Voluntary Inactive Status (VIS) applications, which were introduced for the temporary fee waiver related to COVID-19, were removed from use. Further, the standard VIS applications, with related fees, were reinstated.


March 31, 2020 (Modified July 6, 2020)

To help provide some financial relief for our certificants during this unprecedented time, the BACB had previously waived all fees for those applying for voluntary inactive status through June 30, 2020. Certificants wanting to make use of that temporary allowance needed to submit a unique version of the Voluntary Inactive Status (VIS) Application — previously available from this post — that pertained to their certification level.

Please note: Each BACB certification has different requirements for requesting voluntary inactive status. Please make sure you meet the relevant requirements for your certification level.

BACB Suspends Fees for Voluntary Inactive Status Applications

To help provide some financial relief for our certificants during this unprecedented time, we will waive all fees for those applying for voluntary inactive status through June 30, 2020. Certificants must submit the Voluntary Inactive Status Application that pertains to their certification level and meet all relevant requirements. Visit our COVID–19 Updates page for more information.

Ethics Guidance for ABA Providers During COVID-19 Pandemic

June 10, 2020 Update: Additional resource added from the Michigan Taskforce.

March 20, 2020 Update: We have updated the following information to provide a revised description of individuals who may be at increased risk of becoming very ill during the pandemic. The revised statement also clarifies the guidance provided to support certificants in making decisions around service provision. It is important to remember that the BACB cannot issue a blanket directive to continue or discontinue services due to the complexity of each individual situation and client.


March 19, 2020 (Modified June 10, 2020)

Because the COVID–19 pandemic is particularly impactful on vulnerable populations and their service providers, we offer the following information to our certificants as they make critical decisions about service delivery during this difficult time. Please keep in mind that this information does not constitute legal or medical advice.

First, we extend our gratitude to the many BACB certificants who had contingency plans in place to address service interruptions. We also want to serve as a resource for the many certificants who have contacted us for ethics guidance as they seek to develop and modify contingency plans consistent with the Professional and Ethical Compliance Code for Behavior Analysts (Code) during the pandemic. The Code is primarily focused on ensuring that high–quality services are delivered in a safe manner. Throughout the Code, it is clear that the primary directive is to do no harm to clients. Section 2.0, Behavior Analysts: Responsibility to Clients, states: "Behavior analysts have a responsibility to operate in the best interest of clients." Section 2.04(d) states: "Behavior analysts put the client's care above all others."

Section 1.04(d) of the Code makes it clear that certificants must comply with legal requirements, including those related to social distancing and service provision. Recent directives regarding social distancing may create scenarios that are not easily addressed under 4.07(b) of the Code. Essentially, the social distancing requirements could be deemed "environmental conditions [that] hinder implementation of the behavior-change program." Accordingly, certificants must "seek to eliminate the environmental constraints, or identify in writing the obstacles to doing so." 4.07(b). This means that if there are barriers to service provision in a particular region or context (e.g., a mandate to engage social distancing, high-risk clients) that cannot be removed or adequately addressed, certificants must document in writing the barriers and steps taken for each client.

As BACB certificants endeavor to uphold the Code and protect clients, we provide the following considerations:

Health and Safety

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) currently list the following as groups who may be at increased risk for getting "very sick" during the pandemic: older adults; people of any age who have asthma, COVID–19, or serious underlying medical conditions (blood disorders; chronic kidney and liver diseases; compromised immune systems; current or recent pregnancies; diabetes heart disease; lung disease; metabolic disorders; and neurological, neurologic, and neurodevelopmental conditions). For more information on these categories, please see the following resources: www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019–ncov/specific-groups/high–risk–complications.html and Appendix A in www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019–ncov/downloads/community–mitigation–strategy.pdf. Each certificant is responsible for verifying whether a client falls into one or more of these groups to assist in fully determining the risks associated with continuing to provide services in their current form.
  • The World Health Organization and the CDC recommend social distancing to slow the spread of the infection, minimize the risk of infection to those considered high–risk, and reduce the strain on health services and resources. In the United States, the federal and state governments have directed the public to engage in social distancing, schools have closed or moved to online instruction, and many other public services have been limited or temporarily stopped. Similar practices have been enacted in many other countries.
  • The CDC indicates that individuals who are asymptomatic or have yet to display symptoms may expose others to the virus, and because testing is limited, most individuals are unable to verify that they are not infected. This means that service providers or clients who do not appear ill could be spreading the virus.
  • To minimize risk, service providers should consider developing a COVID–19 pandemic risk mitigation plan and implementation policies. The risk mitigation plan may include some of the following elements: regular communication with staff and clients about how to stay safe, telecommuting/telehealth, limits on air travel, attestations about symptoms and exposure, encouraging social distancing, considerations for determining whether to continue/augment/suspend client services, and cancelling services/sessions if clients or service providers are symptomatic or if deemed necessary to comply with social distancing recommendations.

Continuity of Care and Appropriate Transition of Services

  • Section 2.15, Interrupting or Discontinuing Services, indicates that certificants must work in the best interest of clients to avoid interrupting or disrupting services. This code element must be balanced with the overall requirement to not harm clients. Therefore, certificants providing services to vulnerable individuals must first comply with all government mandates (1.04(d) of the Code). Assuming there are no mandates to the contrary, the service provider must determine if the risk of suspending services (e.g., substantial risk of injury to the client) is greater than the risk of continuing to provide services.
  • If continuing services is deemed appropriate, the certificant must then determine if services can be delivered in a manner that does not unduly increase the risk of exposure to COVID–19 (e.g., enhanced disinfecting protocols, minimizing numbers and points of contact, using protective gear).
  • In the event that services should be suspended in their current form, the next step is to determine if services can be augmented (e.g., provide telehealth services, develop maintenance and generalization programming, create home-based program materials, move to parent consultation via telehealth) to minimize disruptions (i.e., minimize loss of critical skills).
  • If it is determined that services must be stopped, as opposed to augmented, providers should engage in appropriate steps to ensure continuity of care and appropriate transition (e.g., update reports and data, make relevant documents and materials available to caregivers, provide caregivers with a list of other relevant providers).
  • In summary, certificants must systematically and carefully consider the risks of stopping, continuing as-is, or augmenting services, and then take steps to carry out the decision in a way that minimizes risks to clients, caregivers, and staff and maximizes therapeutic benefits to clients.

As certificants make these difficult decisions, we urge you to follow all laws and public health recommendations from your local health authority and respective governmental agencies. We have compiled a list of resources relevant to the COVID–19 pandemic below. Note that including a resource is not an endorsement of the agency or organization, or the guidance provided by said agency or organization.

The BACB will continue to monitor the evolution and impact of COVID–19 and work to continue supporting the profession during this difficult time. If you have questions, please visit the Contact Us page.

Resources

BACB Examinations at Pearson VUE

August 12, 2020 Update:

Pearson VUE testing center availability has been changing on a daily basis due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, many testing centers that have opened are operating at a reduced capacity to implement social distancing measures (including the required use of masks). For the latest information regarding Pearson VUE testing centers and availability, please visit the Pearson VUE website.

Individuals who held an examination authorization in May 2020: We extended the expiration date of your examination authorization due to Pearson VUE testing center closures during the entire month of May 2020. If you did not receive an extension and held an examination authorization during that time, please review the Administrative Appeals Policy and file an appeal.

We continue to monitor this situation closely. To reach a customer service representative, please use our online Contact Us form.


 
April 27, 2020 Update: On May 1, 2020, Pearson VUE will begin reopening testing centers in areas that permit operation. Testing centers will open at a reduced capacity in facilities that can be equipped with appropriate social distancing measures (including the required use of masks). Please visit the Pearson VUE website for further details and scheduling.


March 18, 2020 (Modified August 12, 2020)

On March 16, 2020, Pearson VUE made the difficult decision to close all Pearson VUE–owned testing centers in the U.S. and Canada for a minimum of 30 days in response to the COVID–19 pandemic. Many other countries have closed their testing centers as well. For the latest information regarding Pearson VUE testing centers, please visit the Pearson VUE website.

Pearson VUE's decision was primarily based on guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which now recommends that no more than 10 people congregate in the same physical space in an effort to help contain the COVID–19 pandemic. We understand the closure of Pearson VUE testing centers presents a hardship for our certificants and consumers of ABA services. We will continue to monitor the situation closely and provide guidance to all those unable to test in the weeks ahead.

Individuals who hold a current examination authorization: We will extend the expiration date of your examination authorization by the number of days Pearson VUE testing centers are closed and you are unable to test. If you receive an automated email from the BACB that includes the date of your authorization expiration (e.g., reminders, expiration notices), please be aware that date will be adjusted once we know when Pearson VUE testing centers will reopen. Should your examination authorization expire during this period, we will reinstate it based on the number of days testing centers are closed and you are unable to test. This applies to all BACB testing candidates regardless of location.

Individuals who have submitted or will soon submit a BACB certification application: We will continue to process applications. If your application is approved, please disregard the examination authorization expiration date you receive in your approval email from the BACB. We will adjust the date your examination authorization expires once we have more information regarding the availability of testing.

We continue to receive inquiries about potential modifications to our standard testing practices, including whether candidates may test at other venues or in a remote environment. Because the BACB contracts solely with Pearson VUE, testing at other venues is not permitted. It is also likely impossible given that many other testing vendors are closing in response to the COVID–19 pandemic. Finally, due to our stringent examination security requirements and standards, we are unable to offer remote examination delivery at this time.

Again, we will continue to monitor this situation closely. While we have implemented remote operations to ensure the health and safety of all BACB employees, we remain operational and continue to process applications and respond to emails. To reach a customer service representative, please use our online Contact Us form.