Accreditation by the Behavioral Health Center of Excellence (BHCOE)
Exciting news here at Waypoints – as of February 15, 2022, we are recipients of Preliminary Accreditation by the Behavioral Health Center of Excellence (BHCOE), with a 100% score based on their rigorous standards!
The BHCOE’s accreditation process allows both clients and other professionals to be better assured that our services are of high quality when it comes to ethical practices, support for employees, and focus on client needs. Accreditation demonstrates our ongoing commitment to third-party assessment and approval of our clinical and administrative policies and procedures.
As the BHCOE puts it, “any ABA organization can apply for accreditation; however, organizations only achieve accreditation after demonstrating clinical quality as evidenced by a passing score on our clinical evaluation.”
We have been working through the accreditation process since March 2021, and it is very gratifying to meet this goal. Our next steps will be to pursue full accreditation as well accreditation of our practicum program, but in the meantime, I wanted to describe what this process has entailed and what the outcomes will mean for our clients and employees.
The BHCOE Accreditation Process
As part of the accreditation process, the management and administrative team at Waypoints collaborated to create robust systems for meeting the BHCOE’s standards related to:
- Ethics, Integrity, and Professionalism
- Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
- Recruiting, Hiring, and Retention
- Client Intake
- Service Delivery
- Clinical Documentation
- Collaboration and Coordination of Care
- Health, Safety, and Emergency Preparedness
- HIPAA Compliance
These standards were designed to ensure exceptional ABA service delivery, as well as care and respect for clients and employees alike. The BHCOE itself is accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), which you can learn more about at this link.
Guidance and feedback provided by the BHCOE on a regular basis throughout the year allowed us to create high-quality documentation related to employee training and continuing education, quarterly performance evaluations, clinical policies, and our company’s strategic plan.
I wanted to highlight our strategic plan in particular, as the accreditation process encouraged us to truly solidify in writing the underlying values and goals that brought us to the point of establishing Waypoints in the first place. Waypoints is committed to ensuring that clients are at the forefront of services being provided, and it’s important to us that our day-to-day practices reflect that. As such, here is what we formally established as our company principles and core values:
Waypoints helps people achieve life skills in a collaborative way with analytical y individualized plans that are based on socially significant, empirical data and which are enacted in the utmost ethical way. We believe that:
- Neurodivergent people do not need to be “healed” or “fixed.”
- The best outcomes are derived from well-compensated and well-trained staff.
- People are more important than profits.
Going forward, we will be measuring progress toward goals based on these principles and values on an annual basis at minimum. This data will keep us accountable, and let us know whether and how we need to adjust our actions to be better in alignment with those goals.
|Waypoints will act honestly and responsibly to promote ethical practices of its employees and will support certified employees in complying with ethical and professional requirements of their certifying and/or licensing body.|
|Waypoints will strive to increase the diversity of applicants, hires, and clientele served, as well as meet the needs of diverse employees and clients.|
|Waypoints will strive to retain a high proportion of employees and prevent burnout.|
|Waypoints will maintain high-quality service delivery and social validity of intervention goals, procedures, and client outcomes.|
BHCOE Accreditation Benefits to Clients
It’s probably obvious that affirmation of and adherence to the BHCOE’s standards will act as excellent quality control of services provided to our clients! As the BHCOE itself states, “accreditation serves as a consumer protection mechanism that indicates the organization’s commitment to quality improvement, transparency, and accountability.”
We will be pursuing accreditation on a regular basis, which will require direct oversight by the BHCOE every 1-3 years. BHCOE-accredited organizations must follow the BHCOE Standards of Excellence for Applied Behavior Analysis Services; some standards particularly relevant to our clients include:
- The organization ensures goals are appropriate based on current developmental level, chronological age, and the developmental order in which skills are acquired in individuals with typical development.
- The organization provides treatment recommendations by relying on best practices such as decision models, research, and professional judgment. Treatment recommendations may include hours, amount of supervision, setting, approach, or frequency of treatment.
- The organization ensures intervention is delivered as written in the treatment plan, and that implementation of services adhere to prescribed protocols.
Any concerns regarding compliance with these standards can be reported to the BHCOE directly via this link. One accreditation requirement was also the establishment of an ethics officer within Waypoints, who can be anonymously contacted via our website at https://waypoints.life/report-a-concern/, or by emailing email@example.com.
BHCOE Accreditation Benefits to Employees
The BHCOE also kindly provides a host of fantastic resources to all employees of accredited organizations. Their Virtual Academy covers topics related to clinical practice, human resources, and compliance and operations. They also regularly host live webinars providing free continuing education units (CEUs), as well as a private Facebook group for sharing resources and learning about upcoming BHCOE projects.
As part of the accreditation process, we also documented our commitments to our employees throughout recruitment, hiring, training, and ongoing professional development. Some standards directly benefiting employees include:
- The organization does not engage in hiring practices that could restrict employees’ future employment, such as by requiring employees to sign non-compete agreements.
- The organization employs supervisors who hold a graduate-level certification in good standing in applied behavior analysis (ABA) from a nationally accredited certifying body, meet the certifying body’s current standards for supervision, and hold a graduate degree.
- The organization provides training in clinical tasks and administrative tasks for each level of employee upon hire.
- The organization ensures employees at every level receive continuing education, training, and oversight in line with their certification and specific areas of need.
Regarding continuing education in particular, per the Behavior Analyst Certification Board’s Ethics Code for Behavior Analysts 1.06, “Behavior analysts actively engage in professional development activities to maintain and further their professional competence.” Board certified behavior analysts (BCBAs) are required to obtain 32 continuing education units (CEUs) within each recertification cycle, including four CEUs on the topic of ethics and three on the topic of supervision.
To facilitate this, Waypoints provides an annual stipend for full-time BCBAs to be used for continuing education to maintain certification or for professional development. In addition, in-depth online workshops providing ethics and supervision CEUs will be offered every other year at minimum to Waypoints employees, along with optional participation in a monthly journal club.
We’ve accomplished a lot this year, but there is more on the horizon! By mid-February 2023, we will be pursuing full accreditation, which will involve additional review of documents related to all our procedures and policies, as well as leadership interviews and surveys sent directly to our clientele. By meeting preliminary accreditation requirements, we’re already at least 70% of the way toward full accreditation.
Next on the to-do list will be accreditation of our practicum program, ensuring that all the BHCOE’s standards related to Supervisor Qualifications and Competence, Trainee Experience Documentation, and Trainee Competence and Breadth of Experience are met.
I hope that this offered some insight into what we’ve been up to behind the scenes here at Waypoints. If you’d like to chat more about what the accreditation process has entailed and how it might affect you or your loved one, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org!
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