Florida’s New Child Behavioral Health Law Will Benefit Autistic Children and Others, Says Albizu University Miami Professor


April 18, 2022 – New Florida law enacted in early April 2022 will help more children in the state access behavioral health services outside of the classroom, say professionals at Albizu University’s Miami campus .

Recognized internationally for its doctorate in culturally sensitive psychology and certification programs in mental health, Albizu University offers a minor in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), a requirement for those wishing to become certified in the field.

Current Florida law requires K-12 public schools to license Certified Applied Behavior Analysts and Florida-licensed mental health professionals to provide services in a classroom setting. Previously, this requirement did not apply to behavior technicians working under their direction.

The new law adds a “certified behavior technician” to the list of private teaching staff authorized to provide ABA services in the classroom. The technician must hold nationally recognized paraprofessional certification in behavior analysis, practice under the supervision of board-certified behavior analysts or licensed professionals, and be employed by a registered Medicaid provider.

“The reality is that public school personnel vary widely from school to school,” Albizu Assistant Professor Elvin Alvarez, Psy.D., LMHC, BCBA, explained. “If a child diagnosed with a neurodevelopmental disorder like autism is having a problem at school, this new law will help pave the way for the extra staff needed in the classroom.”

Dr. Alvarez cited a 2016 lawsuit in Broward County as a push for the legislation.

The new law, which was passed by the Florida Legislature as CS/HB 255, was sponsored by state Representatives Rene Placensia (R) and David Silvers (D). Former Broward County School Board President Robin Bartleman, now a state representative, was among the co-sponsors.

ABA is an umbrella term referring to the principles and techniques used to assess, treat, and prevent challenging behaviors while promoting new desired behaviors. ABA has been recognized as a treatment option for a range of behavioral health issues, with an emphasis on treating autism spectrum disorders.

About Albizu University

Proud of its roots and commitment to excellence in program delivery, Albizu University is a private, not-for-profit institution of higher education with campuses in San Juan, Puerto Rico and Miami, Florida, and a university center in Mayagüez, Puerto Rico. It was the only regionally accredited secular university in the continental United States named for a Hispanic, distinguished Puerto Rican psychologist Dr. Carlos Albizu-Miranda. To date, more than 9,000 graduates call Albizu University their Alma Mater, a university that prides itself on educating culturally competent individuals capable of serving the diverse populations of our global community. Albizu University offers undergraduate and graduate programs in psychology, education, speech pathology, social services, and criminal justice, as well as an ESOL program, taught by a diverse and expert faculty. Total enrollment is over 2,000 students representing 65 countries. The Miami campus of Albizu University was recently recognized as the best institution for Best Online Masters in Organizational Psychology Programs 2020 by BestColleges.com. For more information, visit albizu.edu.

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