Footsteps To Choosing A Quality Provider:

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Each week on my show Legal Ease, which is broadcast on Saturdays at 11:00 am on WTAG, I take difficult legal topics and break them down so they are easy to understand.

This Blog post will focus on the steps you need to take to make sure you choose the right healthcare provider for your loved one.

Originally, I had planned to blog this week about premium reimbursement and the open enrollment period for purchasing a child only plan. However, I have been receiving a flurry of questions from families who are looking for knowledge and guidance about how to choose service providers for their child. Hopefully, this blog may assist you with selecting providers who are credentialed and experienced.

Step 1: Understand what Services Your Child Needs. This information can come from a variety of sources, but usually begins with your primary care doctor based on the testing that is performed.

Step 2Get a list of Providers and begin building your care team. Your P.C. should give you a list of providers, which may include physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech therapists, and behavioral therapists. You may also research facilities and care providers on your own.

Step 3: Find out what Services Your Insurance Covers and which providers accept your insurance. For more information on this topic, click here:

Step 4: Screen the Providers. Here is what to look for:

  • Is the provider accredited and/or licensed in your state?
  • How much experience does the provider have?
  • Do they have the qualifications necessary to treat and best serve your child’s needs?

Step 5: Determine Location and Availability of the Provider.

  • Find out whether the provider is in an area that you can get to easily.
  • Or, whether they provide one-to-one in home therapy.
  • Ask about office hours.

Step 6: Find out what services they provide. Critical questions to ask:

  • What services are included?
  • Are the services 1-to-1?
  • Are they in your home?
  • Are they in a clinic?
  • Will they come to your community (e.g. playground, school, or library)?
  • What is the organization’s mission and purpose?
  • What types of programs do they offer (social skills programs, community programs, adolescent programs, adaptive living programs)?
  • Are the service programs tailored to meet the needs of both the individual and the family?

Step 7: Review Health Provider’s Licensing and Certifications. It is CRITICAL to know what training, licensing and certification your provider holds. (See Licensing and Certification websites listed below.)

Step 8: Manage the Relationship with Your Healthcare Provider.

  • Make sure you and your service provider are able to communicate clearly and effectively together.
  • He or she should listen to your concerns and clearly explain the benefits of new treatments and prescriptions.

Understanding the Kinds of Therapists who may be on Your Care Team!

Physical Therapist (PT): A PT is a highly-educated, licensed health care professional who helps patients to reduce pain and improve or restore physical mobility.

  • A PT must earn a graduate degree in physical therapy or occupational therapy.
  • A PT must pass the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE).
  • Some states require additional testing or assessment of the PT.
  • Some states require a PT to take continuing education credits as a condition of licensure.

To find a licensed PT by State, please go to:

Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA)

  • A PTA is educated at the associate degree level.
  • A PTA is permitted to provide physical therapy services under the direction and supervision of a physical therapist.
  • A PTA must meet the state requirements to work.

Physical Therapy Aides and Technicians (PT aides and PT techs)

  • PT aides and techs are on-the-job-trained workers in the physical therapy clinic who assist the PT/PTA with tasks related to physical therapy services.
  • Aids are NOT eligible for license, certification, or registration.

Occupational Therapist (OT): OT professionals treat patients with injuries, illnesses or disabilities through the therapeutic use of everyday activities. An OT helps develop, recover and improve the Activities of Daily Living (ADL).  These activities include tasks such as eating, bathing, clothing, and toileting.

  • An OT must have a Master’s degree from an accredited educational program.
  • An OT must pass the National Certification Exam.

To find a licensed OT by State please go to:

Occupational Therapy Assistant (OTA)

  • An OTA needs an associate’s degree from an accredited program.
  • OTA programs are commonly found in community colleges and technical schools.
  • An OTA typically works under the direction and supervision of a licensed OT.

Speech Language Pathologist (SLP): An SLP diagnoses, treats, and helps patients with communication, overcoming stuttering, learning nonverbal communication, improving articulation and fluency, preventing swallowing disorders, or assisting with functional skills, such as using the telephone.

  • An SLP has a master’s degree.
  • An SLP has passed a licensing competency exam.
  • An SLP may also hold an American Speech and Language Hearing Association (ASHA) certification, which may indicate that the SLP offers a better quality of clinical services.

To find a licensed SLP by State, please go to:

Speech Language Therapist (SLT)

  • An SLT has a bachelor’s degree in speech therapy.
  • An SLT works under the direction of the SLP.
  • An SLT may develop goals or a care plan or may follow those developed by the SLP.

Speech Language Assistant (SLA)

  • An SLA has an associate’s degree or has graduated from a certificate program in speech and language assisting.
  • An SLA works under the direction of either the pathologist (SLP) or therapist (SLT).
  • An SLA does not create care plans or goals, but follows those developed by the SLP or SLT.

To check a license in Massachusetts for a PT, OT or SLP, please go to:

(Note: You can check the initials on therapy notes to determine your provider’s credentials.)

Behavior Analysis: Behavior Analysis is the scientific study of principles of learning and behavior. Practitioners of behavior analysis provide services which may include, conducting behavioral assessments, analyzing data, writing treatment plans, training others to implement parts of treatment plans, and overseeing the treatment plans. There are the 4 Main Credentials for Behavior Analysis.

Board Certified Behavior Analyst with Doctoral Training (BCBA-D).

  • A BCBA-D is an independent practitioner who provides behavior-analytic services.
  • A BCBA-D has the highest degree in this area of practice.
  • A BCBA-D functions in the same capacity as a BCBA.
  • A BCBA-D supervises the work of Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analysts (BCaBA), Registered Behavior Technicians (RBT), and others who provide behavior-analytic interventions.

Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA)

  • A BCBA has a graduate-level certification in behavior analysis.
  • A BCBA is certified at the BCBA level.
  • A BCBA is an independent practitioners who provides behavior-analytic services.
  • A BCBA supervises the work of a BCaBA, RBT, and others who implement behavior-analytic interventions.

Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst (BCaBA)

  • A BCaBA holds an undergraduate-level certification in behavior analysis.
  • A BCaBA may NOT practice on their own, they must be supervised by someone certified at the BCBA/BCBA-D level.
  • A BCaBA can supervise the work of an RBT.

Registered Behavioral Technicians (RBT) are “para-professionals” who practice under the close, ongoing supervision of a BCBA, BCaBA.

  • An RBT is responsible for implementing behavior-analytic services.
  • An RBT does NOT design interventions or assessment plans.
  • An RBT is required annually to pass the RBT Competency Assessment, complete a renewal, receive ongoing supervision, and comply with the ethical requirements relevant to an RBT.

To find licensing requirements for any category of Behavioral Analyst, please go to:

For more information on this topic, or other blog topics, click below to register for the COMPLIMENTARY SPECIAL NEEDS WORKSHOP being held on Saturday, September 10, 2016, at the DoubleTree Hilton Hotel in Westborough, MA.

The information discussed in this blog is provided to you for informational purposes only and should not be considered personal legal advice.  Before making any legal decision, please consult an attorney.  The law differs from jurisdiction to jurisdiction and is subject to interpretation of courts located in each county.  Legal advice must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each case.

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