Supporting the intellectual and practical development of students in the field of applied behavior analysis has always been an important part of our culture at The Portia Learning Centre Inc, an ABA Clinic in Ontario, Canada. Typically, we accepted 1 to 2 students from the local college for a 4 to 6 week placement opportunity at 35 hours per week. The placements required the supervision of a senior staff and some considerable administration to facilitate the applied learning experience. Considering the amount of time required of the senior staff we were only able to accommodate 1-2 students at a time. The college approached us with a dilemma. They had more students needing placement then placement opportunities available.
The original agreement required time and expertise from our senior staff as well as our junior staff assisting in facilitating the hands on learning with the students without any additional compensation for their time. Although we are committed to supporting the students, we just couldn’t accommodate more requests without some compensation for our time. We certainly had the capacity to support more students but we were not willing to volunteer any more time from our staff. This was the perfect opportunity for a partnership.
We proposed a mutually beneficial arrangement where we would accept up to 10 placement students and receive compensation for the supervision per student. The college happily agreed to the arrangement and we set out to create a structured student placement program for 10 students. With our new arrangement we were able to provide more opportunity for advancement for our junior staff within the agency. The new opportunities for growth outside of our usual structure created excitement and improved productivity. The development of the placement program consisted of a series workshops, observations and hands on learning.
The students also have the opportunity to use the Portia ABA Clinic Software and data collection system within their placement experience. We created feedback forms for the staff and students to evaluate the process and within 3 terms we were able to solidify the placement program. Within the placement program we have been able to offer free ABA services to children with autism. We have been so impressed with our results from this partnership we are continuing to look into new ways to support the community our staff and our clients by creating these opportunities with public agencies where everyone benefits. We are looking forward to expanding Portia to new avenues of online education and learning opportunities.