Hawai'i Association for Behavior Analysis

To educate, advocate for, and support both providers and consumers 
of Applied Behavior Analysis.

This page is maintained by Dr. Amanda N Kelly, HABA Legislative Chair. For questions, please email Dr. Kelly at legislation@hawaiiaba.org.

Changes to ABA Licensure Law - May 7, 2018

HABA Legislative Chair, Amanda N Kelly, PhD, BCBA-D, LBA, presents for us an update on ABA in Hawaii, Petcha Kucha style. Originally presented at the Autism Law Summit, San Diego (2017).

Know Your Rights

  1. Chapter 465D: Behavior analyst licensure law requires individuals providing 1:1 to be Registered Behavior Technicians (RBT)
  2. SB 1311 (2016): Granted the DOE a reprieve until 1/1/2019
  3. HB 2271 (2018): Allowed the DOE a reprieve until 1/1/2020 for all 1:1’s who provide ABA services, under a Licensed Behavior Analyst (LBA) to become Registered Behavior Technicians (RBTs). 
  4. If the school does not offer ABA services overseen by a Licensed behavior analyst (LBA), provided by a Registered Behavior technician (RBT), then these services cannot be said to be equivalent to medically-necessary ABA. In these cases, parents can advocate for their insurance-funded behavioral team to provide treatment on the HIDOE public school campus.
  5. If the HIDOE denies this, they are denying a sick child access to medically-necessary care, during a critical teaching window, which will cause irreparable harm to the child and the community. There is a pending class action lawsuit set to be brought against the DOE for these issues.

Federal Protections: IDEA, ADA, and FAPE

Chapter 465-D Licensure of Behavior Analysts

Licensure for Behavior Analysts (Chapter 465-D) requires licensure for those who practice behavior analysis, with carefully crafted exemptions. The exemptions allow for psychologists, behavior analysis students, parents/guardians, individuals pursuing practicum to practice, under the oversight of a licensed behavior analyst (LBA). 

Related Case Law

Endrew F v. Douglas County

Endrew’s parents contended that the final IEP proposed by the school district was not “reasonably calculated to enable [Endrew] to receive educational benefits” and that Endrew had therefore been denied a FAPE. Rowley, 458 U. S., at 207. Endrew’s IEPs largely carried over the same basic goals and objectives from one year to the next, indicating that he was failing to make meaningful progress toward his aims. LEARN MORE Instruction Must be 'Specially Designed' to Meet 'Child's Unique Needs' Through an IEP Later, the Court returned to these concepts: “A focus on the particular child is at the core of the IDEA. The instruction offered must be ‘specially designed’ to meet a child’s ‘unique needs’ through an “[i]ndividualized education program.” §§1401(29), (14) 

Justices Nix Exclusion Barring In-School Coverage for Autism Treatment

October 5, 2017 - “Ultimately, we simply do not believe that the legislature intended to permit insurers to exclude coverage in the sensory-laden educational environment where children spend large portions of their days, or to require families to litigate the issue of medical necessity discretely in individual cases to secure such location-specific coverage for the treatment,” Pennsylvania Supreme Court Chief Justice Thomas Saylor, who wrote the 22-page majority opinion, said. LEARN MORE

Q & A (from the community)

Q: Is a Licensed Behavior Analyst (LBA) required to be at the IEP table if your child is diagnosed with Autism?
A: The IEP team must always include someone who can speak to the results of the assessment. In the cases where a child needs a behavior plan, then an Functional Behavior Assessment (FBA) must be completed (I.D.E.A.). State law (Chapter 465-D) notes that FBAs are to be considered part of the practice of Applied behavior analysis (ABA) and therefore must be completed by a Licensed Behavior Analyst (LBA) or a Licensed Psychologist with ABA in their education, training, and competence. If the team is considering recommendations from an FBA by an LBA, then in accordance with federal law, "an individual who can interpret the instructional implications of evaluation results" (I.D.E.A.) must be present....AND according to state law (Chapter 465-D), that person is a Licensed behavior analyst or Licensed Psychologist with ABA in their "education, training, and competence". It is actually a right of all children, with or without an autism diagnosis.
Q: When ABA is provided in the DOE. Is it through medical insurance or contracted through them?
A: For children with Medicaid the insurer (MedQUEST) is required to cover it. The state can actually pull in 50 cents on the dollar in federal funds to offset state costs.
Q: I'd like to bring this up in our IEP this week. How does the HIDOE go about accessing federal funds for children with Medicaid?
A: 1) They give you a consent (whether or not you have Medicaid) and eligible families will return it 2) they have a credentialed provider who is licensed by the state. If they cannot find one, they can ask to contract a private provider using a single-case agreement. 3) After initial eligibility, the ABA services must be reflected on the IEP in the Related services portion of the service delivery grid, in order to be eligible for reimbursement. The monies come to the state, not each specific school, per se.

Does ABA belong on the IEP grid?

Short answer: yes

Long answer: “In order to submit claims and be reimbursed for the ABA services, the provider must prescribe such services in the student’s Service Delivery Needs in the IEP” “...supplementary documentation sources specifying the ABA services being provided is required to include type of personnel providing the ABA therapy and the duration/frequency of such therapy. The documentation should match the ABA services that will be included with the IEP amendment” (Massachusetts, 2015).


“When a particular methodology plays a critical role in the student’s educational plan, it must be specified in the IEP (Individualized Education Plan) rather than left up to individual teachers’ discretion” (Hawai’i, 2017).


"At a minimum, this summary of the decisions and agreements reached during the Team meeting must include: – (a) a completed IEP service delivery grid describing the types and amounts of special education and/or related services proposed by the district, and – (b) a statement of the major goal areas associated with these services."


"The IEP must include all special education services, related services, and supplementary aids and services the child needs, and the school will provide" (Wrightslaw: All About IEPs, page 37).


How do you get ABA in your IEP?
For families seeking ABA in DOE (who already have insurance-funded ABA) 

1. Get a doctor's note, a physician’s order, and/or insurance approval for ABA services.

2. Call an IEP team meeting.
3. Request a Licensed Behavior Analyst (LBA) from the DOE attend. Also invite your LBA, if you have services through your insurance.

For families seeking ABA in DOE (who do not have insurance-funded ABA)

1. Call an IEP team meeting.
2. Request a Licensed Behavior Analyst (LBA) from the DOE attend.
3. Request that a Functional Behavior Assessment (FBA) be completed by a Licensed Behavior Analyst (in accordance with state law, Chapter 465-D).
4. Learn more about functional behavior assessments here: http://www.behaviorbabe.com/behavior-assessments-fba-2

When conducting initial ABA insurer-funded assessments

1. Always request to observe across settings (e.g., home, school, after-school care, sports, etc.)

2. Make recommendations based on client need, not availability
3. If observations, interviews, or records requested are denied or not provided, mention this in your report (provide context)
This page was updated 5/20/2019