What is a Behavioral Health Professional?
In the State of Maine, we train and employ Behavioral Health Professionals to work with children with developmental disabilities and mental health concerns. They go into the home and community-based settings to teach safety awareness, socialization, behavioral management, communication skills and daily living skills. They provide services to children 21 years old and younger, through MaineCare Sections 28 and 65.
Section 28: Rehabilitation and Community Support Services (RCS) is for children with developmental disabilities (typically autism spectrum disorder and down syndrome). Section 65: Home and Community-based Treatment (HCT) is for children with mental health concerns. This is an intensive, short-term service to help stabilize the child and family and support them in transitioning to outpatient therapy. Both services are crucial to families in Maine.
What are the perks?
Have you ever been on a job site only to notice the pages of listings for Behavioral Health Professionals in your area? It seems like it is one of the highest needed positions in the area. And by some extension, that is true. There are nearly 1,000 children in Maine on the wait list for in-home support (RCS and HCT). There are parts of the job that make it difficult to fill, like the after school, part-time hours and the requirement to travel to someone’s home. It also doesn’t help that the State of Maine is very large and rural.
However, there are far more benefits to this position than one can anticipate. The largest benefit to being a BHP is that you get to work with children! You are their one-on-one support for several hours a week, helping guide and teach them new life skills.
Other benefits include:
- Great part-time job– Being a BHP is a phenomenal job for someone in college or working in a school setting. I can’t say this enough. I wish I had known about the Behavioral Health Professional position while at the University of Maine. This would have been an ideal part time job to help me gain invaluable experience in the field.
- Lots of flexibility– Whether you are available 6 or 40 hours a week, there are shifts for you. Yes, it can be very, very difficult to get 40 hours a week as an in-home Behavioral Health Professional (kids are only home so many hours a day!), but I’ve seen it happen. This is why I say it works best as a part-time job. Say you’re only available Monday, Wednesday, Friday, done, we can work with that.
- Work and support kids in your community with special needs– As a BHP you are working with children and families in your local community. You are making a real difference to a family in your town or neighboring town. You get the reward of helping and guiding a child with a developmental disability or behavioral concerns. You get to make a difference!
- Creative outlet– One of my favorite parts of the job was always how creative I could be. The child has a road safety goal? You could mix it up; start with some pre-teaching while at the home, maybe a coloring page (found easily on google) or a game of red-light green-light. Once you’ve established that they know road signs, signals and crosswalks and will listen to you, you can go into the community to show them the real thing. You can do this over and over again. Then you start bringing up the safety while you’re working on other goals. You get to build on the original skills you taught. You can bring them to the fire department, and look up local events (i.e. ones being put on by the community to teach road safety). You get to praise the child, make up games and songs and use a wide array of tools to teach them. There is no one way to teach any goal, and no two kids are going to learn the same way.
- Great experience– as I mentioned before, this job gives you a lot of real, hands on experience. Whether you’re in school to work with children, or have recently graduated I’m not sure there is a better way to gain independence while getting the level of experience you obtain as a BHP. Even if you’re newly retired, the energy you’ll gain from working with children will be unmatched anywhere else. You will receive your BHP certificate, which is yours. You get an additional 40+ hours of training in the first year alone. The training certificates are yours, and you get to can use the skills and lessons learned in your own life.
If you’re looking for part-time work, and love working with children, you’ve found your job. These positions are hard and fulfilling. They are exciting and exhausting. Overall, they are beyond rewarding.