Dr. Stephanie Hood, assistant professor of psychology in the behavior analysis program in the Klingler College of Arts and Sciences and the Marquette Graduate School, has received a $2 million grant from the State of Wisconsin to expand the home- and community-based services (HCBS) workforce by training licensed providers (behavior analysts) to deliver culturally responsive behavior treatment to individuals with autism spectrum disorder and those with intellectual disabilities and expanding access to behavioral health services throughout the state.
Hood will serve as project director and work with colleagues from the Department of Psychology to strengthen the licensed behavior analyst workforce through both numbers and an increased representation of that workforce. This will increase access to HCBS for Medicaid beneficiaries as those trainees who receive financial support for the training will provide a minimum of 1,500 supervised hours of clinical services to Medicaid beneficiaries.
“In Wisconsin, 21% of adults have been diagnosed with a disability, the number of children receiving special education services for ASD has more than tripled from 2002 to 2018, and about 5% of individuals in special education have an intellectual disability,” Hood said. “These growing needs have contributed to a significant shortage of qualified providers across Wisconsin resulting in notable treatment delays or a complete lack of service availability. We hope to create an influx of licensed behavior analysts, particularly those from underrepresented backgrounds, as well as a tele-behavioral health network to increase access to services for the individuals residing within the 77% of ZIP codes in Wisconsin that do not have a licensed behavior analyst within 30 miles. In addition, we hope to increase the quality of training in culturally responsive practices and tele-behavioral health to better meet the needs of Wisconsinites.”
In addition to increasing the number of licensed behavior analysts, this project will reform services and support through the creation of innovative trainings in culturally responsive practices and tele-behavioral health. Investigators will collaborate with leaders in best practices for training professionals in justice, diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility to develop and deliver a five-day, 25-hour intensive training on culturally responsive clinical service provision for mental health providers across the state.
“We are very proud of Dr. Hood and her team for their work addressing a significant need in the State of Wisconsin in a way that is unique to the values and mission of Marquette University,” said Dr. Heidi Bostic, dean of the Klinger College of Arts and Sciences. “This project will not only train more licensed behavior analysts but will also increase representation within the field and foster an environment of inclusion and understanding that will benefit both the caregiver and person in need.”
Hood is joined on this award by co-investigators Dr. Lindsay Holly, assistant professor of psychology with expertise in evidence-based mental health treatments, including delivery to underserved and minoritized populations; Dr. Tiffany Kodak, associate professor of psychology with expertise in applied behavior analysis and early intervention for children with disabilities; and Dr. Kimberly D’Anna-Hernandez, associate professor of psychology with expertise in the training and delivery of culturally validated pedagogy to faculty and students.
The behavior analysis program in the Marquette Graduate School offers master’s and doctoral-level programs, providing exemplary training in both research and practice with a focus on serving individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. There are two clinics in which students may receive supervised practice experiences. One of those clinics is directed by Hood; Social Skill, Assessment, Intervention and Learning (SSAIL) Center is dedicated to the development of new interventions to promote independence and increase the client’s overall well-being and quality of life through increased participation in the community, workforce, and interpersonal relationships. Hood specializes in helping clients (pre-teens through adults) improve their interpersonal skills toward establishing and sustaining friendships.
“This is a tremendous opportunity for Dr. Hood and her co-investigators to play a pivotal role in providing care services to underserved communities on both a geographical and cultural need,” said Dr. Douglas Woods, dean of the Graduate School and faculty member in the applied behavior analysis program. “Dr. Hood’s SSAIL Center and Dr. Kodak’s CLASS Intervention are Marquette-affiliated clinics that work to provide many behavior-analytic services to Medicaid beneficiaries—over 95%, including at least 50% from qualified census tract regions. The training at the SSAIL Center and CLASS Intervention sites provide a high-quality educational training environment for the next generation of scientist-practitioners.”
This grant was awarded through a statewide program funded by the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) and courtesy of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). ARPA provided qualifying states with federal funding for Medicaid HCBS activities. DHS then awarded $12 million to 43 applicants, with many projects focused on improving and expanding the direct care workforce in Wisconsin. Reaching both urban and rural areas of the state, these projects propose creative ways to make a positive impact on the vital workers who care for people who are elderly or have disabilities.