FranU bringing 1st program of its kind to Louisiana

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in 44 children is diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder.

That statistic represents a huge need for skilled professionals to work in the field. Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady University is establishing a first-of-its-kind program to help fill the need.

FranU is launching Louisiana’s first university-based registered behavior technician (RBT) program. The eight-week RBT program will launch in October 2022.

Through support of the Huey and Angelina Wilson Foundation, up to 20 students in the Baton Rouge area will be selected to receive a 100 percent tuition reduction for the RBT course. 

The program’s primary goal is to train students for a career in applied behavior analysis, which is known for its application as a therapy for children with autism spectrum disorder.

“The demand is out there,” said Tracy Lepper, Ph.D. and ABA Program Director/Assistant Professor at will FranU. “I talked to someone who told me they will hire all of our RBTs. I’ve been hearing from clinics that they’ve been having a hard time recruiting and retaining RBTs.”

Becoming an RBT doesn’t require a college degree, but Lepper said the training learning in the program will help the transition for RBTs.

Most RBT training programs in Louisiana are outsourced to online programs outside of the state. The programs may be difficult to complete and do not provide opportunities for trainees to receive hands-on learning experiences.

FranU’s program will include an online component to accommodate adult learners as well as a brief but immersive practical component that will take place at the Emerge Center.

During their practical experience, students will receive direct supervision as they learn to apply behavioral services to children with autism spectrum disorder. Those who complete the program will be afforded immediate employment opportunities through sponsorships with local autism spectrum disorder-focused clinics, according to Fran U’s website.

“We want to have training so that people feel more comfortable and have job satisfaction,” Lepper said. “The job is challenging and the job is suited for someone who is compassionate and wants to help others. There’s not a lot of knowledge in the community that this is a career path.”

As an RBT, the person’s job duties would include providing one-on-one therapy. Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analysts (BCaBA) are individuals who provide supervision of therapeutic services, assessments, and monitor and report client progress.

Individuals credentialed as a Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBA) oversee all aspects of services provided. FranU offers the required training for individuals wishing to pursue careers in ABA, as an RBT, BCaBA, and will begin accepting applications for its new BCBA program soon.

According to Glassdoor, the national average annual salary for RBTs is around $37,000.

“We’re hoping to recruit individuals who may not have seen college as an option or something they saw for their future,” Lepper said. “I think this is an amazing opportunity.”

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