Partners in Learning mints special education partnership with Stanly Community College

Published 12:02 am Wednesday, August 17, 2022

SALISBURY — Students in Stanly County will be crossing over to Rowan County for education opportunities at a local child care center.

Stanly Community College and Partners in Learning have signed off on an agreement that will include clinical experience in Rowan County for a special education certificate offered by the college.

The certificate program prepares students to work with children with disabilities. Students will get in-person experience via Partners in Learning’s applied behavioral analysis clinical director. The course will also prepare students to sit for the registered behavioral technician exam.

ABA is a technique used as an early intervention for autism spectrum disorders. PIL recently got the program off the ground and has already accumulated a waitlist several times larger than the number of children it can serve. The nonprofit is currently serving a handful of students and has hired three behavioral technicians in addition to clinical director Kelsie Hoilien, a board certified behavior analyst. PIL is looking to hire more technicians as well.

PIL Executive Director Norma Honeycutt said the college reached out to the nonprofit originally knowing it was starting an ABA program and that PIL is respected. She said the partnership will not be a significant funding source for PIL and only cover the costs.

“It’s more about providing strong, quality instruction for registered behavior technicians,” Honeycutt said, adding the program could help with the nonprofit’s recruitment as well. “We are able to teach them the right way and have the potential of hiring them, though they may choose to go somewhere else.”

Honeycutt said PIL is helping pay for two employees to become board certified analysts as well.

“We’re sort of growing our own people,” Honeycutt said.

The courses are slated to start in September.

Honeycutt said the number of children PIL is able to serve will expand when the nonprofit moves into its new facility next year. Recently PIL was approved to bill Medicaid and some insurance providers.

Honeycutt said PIL intends to keep its caseloads low, at 10 children per behavior analyst, and expand the program over time. Students who need ABA get the support they need throughout the day, mostly in the classroom. Honeycutt said the organization eventually wants to start providing services in homes. Until PIL began its program and Compleat KiDZ moved into the third floor of the Salisbury Post building this year there was no ABA available in Rowan County.

About Carl Blankenship

Carl Blankenship has covered education for the Post since December 2019. Before coming to Salisbury he was a staff writer for The Avery Journal-Times in Newland and graduated from Appalachian State University in 2017, where he was editor of The Appalachian.

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