5 Must Have Business Classes for Managers of an ABA Agency

Let us guess? You can put together a winning autism program for your clients, but when it comes to running the business side of your ABA agency you have more than a few questions. We spoke to Gerald Lavarias, Clinical Director (and Entrepreneur) at Multilevel Applications and Positive Support Services (MAPSS). He suggested five key business classes for ABA agency owners and/or managers.

Project Management

When you run multiple departments or need to get projects off the ground, planning and estimations on those plans are key; however, money and resources are much more involved with project management because you have to take into consideration locations, demographics, area of services, prediction analysis, etc. Courses about Project Management are key for ABA agency managers who are involved with making business decisions centered around new products or untapped resources.

Basic Finance

A general finance class provides surface level information to help ABA agency managers review, understand, and interpret financial reports. Finance helps you understand the “health” of the organization and also serves as a great tool to make better decisions on future projects. Finance is heavily data driven which reinforces the Behaviorist in us and, most importantly, helps us make the most appropriate recommendations or plans.

Human Resources

Human resource knowledge is vital to ABA agency managers’ success and longevity. It teaches us the current laws and regulations and reminds us how to manage people. This could include anything from dealing with difficult employees to boosting employee participation and commitment to company.

Managing Employees

For BCBAs that are in leadership positions that directly manage employees I suggest reading books or joining webinars by other leaders (although non-ABA) such as John Maxwell, Dale Carnagie, Stephen Covey, Zig Ziglar, etc. Another good ABA author in this realm is Aubrey Daniels.

Additionally, Relias offers courses on various supervision topics for ABA professionals. These courses cover how to measure staff performance, evaluating the effects of your supervision, and more.

Understanding the Law

Even more important than the soft skills, business courses teach ABA agency managers about the always-changing state and federal HR law. My agency has an HR professional in-house as well as an outside consulting firm that helps us align our HR policies with California and federal HR laws. Even still, I sometimes don’t feel that it is enough to understand this changing landscape.

For instance, it was a shock to understand quarterly payroll taxes during the first year at MAPSS (a very basic part of business when you have employees on a payroll) or distinguishing contractor duties from employee duties. Without fully understanding state and federal law, ABA agency managers with these responsibilities may make the wrong decisions because they base their knowledge as employees, not necessarily as administrators or business owners.

Emaley McCulloch

Vice President, Relias Institute, Relias

Vice President, Relias Institute||In 2008 Emaley McCulloch co-founded Autism Training Solutions, LLC and is currently the Vice President of Relias Institute at Relias Learning. She is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst and holds an MA in Special Education. She has over 20 years’ experience in the field of autism and ABA and has provided and overseen services to individuals between the ages of 18 months to 24 years in homes, schools and clinical settings. For eight years she served as a consultant and supervisor at agencies based in Hawaii and Japan where she trained groups of professionals and parents.

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