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The Kool History

In the dynamic realm of Autism Behavior Therapy Services and related services that support Autistic children and their families, our company and the people within it have emerged as a shining example of commitment and profound change. The history of New Way Day Services, Inc., today known as Koala ABA & Learning Centers, exceeds an impressive two-decade journey that has left an enduring mark on the Autism community.

Below is our story, a mere chronicle of successes and setbacks, that serves as a homage to the lives touched, the unwavering resilience and commitment displayed by our employees, clients, and founding members whose influence continues to shape the world of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

The Genesis of a Hero: Year, 1993

More than 23 years ago, our founding father, Jose A. Merida embarked on a path that would shape the destinies of countless families. In 1993, he earned the title of Florida Certified Behavior Analyst (FLCBA), this wasn’t just a professional achievement; it was a testament to his commitment to understanding and empowering those in need. His tenure as a lead analyst in State-run facilities laid the foundation for what was to come – a revolution in family support.

A Paradigm Shift: Year, 1999

The year 1997 marked a transformative shift as State-run facilities closed their doors, leading to the rise of small group homes. In this evolving landscape, Jose’s vision took flight. In 1999, he became the visionary founder of New Way Day Services, Inc. (NWDS), a haven for families seeking Behavior Analysis therapy through Florida’s Medicaid Waiver program. Soon after, the union of Caridad Bouza-Merida and Jose symbolized not only a marriage but also a business partnership in their shared mission-to not just be an ABA service provider; but to serve as a sanctuary of hope for families navigating the challenges of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

A Foundation of Love: Year, 2008

Jose & Cary’s love to serve those in need reverberated through the establishment of a 501c3 non-profit organization, A Better Day Therapy, Learning Center, Inc., which now stands as The Koala Foundation. Their commitment to children’s academic excellence, regardless of their challenges, laid a foundation of empowerment.

Advocacy & Justice: Year, 2009

Attorneys from Florida Legal Services, Inc. and Legal Services of Greater Miami approached the Agency, inviting our founder to collaborate on a trial presentation for one of their plaintiffs scheduled for March 2012. Jose, in close coordination with a BCBA, worked diligently on the case, with the agency contributing essential personnel on a pro-bono basis. Subsequently, on March 26, 2012, District Judge Joan A. Lenard, presiding in Miami, FL, issued a momentous order mandating Florida Medicaid to provide coverage for ABA therapy services not only to the three plaintiffs but also to all Medicaid recipients under the age of 21 with a diagnosis of autism or ASD (source: https://casetext.com/case/kg-ex-rel-garrido-v-dudek).

Year, 2014-2020

• Data Innovation Trademark: Year, 2014

Working with our dedicated team, an internal data collection system based on an assessment tool was created. The endeavor showcased a data collection system whose formulas were copy written in 2018.

• Medicaid Trusted Provider: Year, 2019

The agency earned recognition as a trusted Medicaid provider, a testament to their rigorous BCBA, BCaBA & RBT training and transparent billing practices.

• COVID-19: Year, 2020

The year 2020 tested the agency's resilience, and it met it head-on. The pandemic didn't hold back; it pushed the team to innovate. the agency's leadership team of BCBAs established one-on-one telehealth services, ensuring uninterrupted support during the most trying times. Tragically, in the same year, the team and family of NWDS faced a profound loss as its revered founder, Jose A. Merida, passed away at the age of 53. His legacy lives on through his widow, and his protégés of BCBAs who valiantly continue to

New Beginnings: Year, 2021

Fate brought Mr. Pedro Curbelo and Caridad Bouza Merida together at a local networking event. Pedro’s dedication to his daughter’s autism journey ignited a deep-seated resolve to explore an innovative approach to Autism therapy. Years prior, he had conceptualized NeuroMod, a therapeutic model founded on ABA principles and EEG technology aimed at enhancing neuroplasticity in the brain. Cary, on the other hand, was resolute in preserving her late husband’s vision and her ABA agency’s growth, driving her to search for an entrepreneurial figure in the healthcare sector.

Pedro’s expertise in enterprise risk management, and healthcare practice Cary’s unwavering commitment, and NWDS’s team proficiency in Applied Behavior Analysis, including Jose’s patented techniques were the perfect match for a partnership, propelled Mr. Pedro Curbelo to acquire the agency.

A Koala is Born: Year, 2022

In 2022, amid a transformative rebranding and restructuring, Alina Garza-Montesino joined as a partner and Chief Financial Officer, strengthening our leadership team.

Today, KOALA ABA & LEARNING CENTERS proudly stands as a symbol of inclusive education, pioneering ABA techniques, and collaborative clinical excellence.

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