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Devereux CARES Services

Educational Services

Devereux CARES Consultants

Elementary Program

CARES Elementary school provides an environment that focuses on teaching each student based on his or her own needs.  Their learning includes communication and social skills, as well as skills related to personal independence to allow each child to maximize potential in the least restrictive environment. 

Devereux Cares - Elementary Program

Applied Behavior Analysis    

CARES model employs applied behavior analysis techniques in individual and small group instructional settings – a typical ratio is 4 instructors to 5 students.  Educational focus is placed on Communication, Social and Independent Skills (Self-Care, Domestic, Academics and Functional Academics, Community, Recreation, Gross and Fine Motor Skills). 

Learning focus for each student is outlined in an Individual Education Plan.  The IEP consists of an average of 20-30 skill acquisition objectives – a result of a comprehensive evaluation report, ongoing assessments as well as family involvement and input.

Communication training is imperative for achieving student independence.  CARES instruction uses functional communication systems like PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System which directs daily activities) and other appropriate techniques available. 

Transition Program

CARES Transition Program for adolescents and young adults with autism – ages 13 to 21 years – focuses on:

Transition Services
  • Self-care routines
  • Domestic skills
  • Employment skills
  • Community-based skills
  • Recreational skills
  • Human sexuality
  • Mobility training
  • Self-determination skills

The primary goal is independence in all the above areas.

Also, communication deficits can be a primary source of behavior problems for this age group, so a key component of this program model is teaching functional communication skills.  Behavioral challenges are addressed by training students to use replacement behaviors that are more acceptable.

Many of these skills are taught in the natural environments of a home setting, work place, or community, including  most recently a college campus where there are opportunities for the students to practice their skills with new people.  This is critical for skill maintenance and retention.

This program also provides services that demonstrate awareness, respect and consideration for cultural, individual and role differences, including age, gender, orientation disability, language and socio-economic status.

Employment Training and Education

Perhaps most important for CARES students as they age into young adulthood is preparing them for work by introducing CARES supported community-based employment training sites that ultimately result in developing each student’s capacity for competitive employment.  These training sites provide experiences that allow for an individualized assessment of learning styles, strengths and needs, and employment preferences that increase the likelihood of lifetime employment. 

Through exploration, we can identify the best placement for students when they turn 18 years old.  Efforts are then made to match students to work sites so they continue to master necessary skills.  This step leads to the final goal of employment for each student, upon graduation of our program, at age 21.

Preparing Together with Families and Businesses

The success of our employment training program is enhanced by collaboration and daily communication with families and employers. Both parties play an important role and are considered equal partners with regards to program planning and implementation.  The team effort translates into student success as they transition into adulthood.

Devereux CARES Clinical Model

1. The primary objective of Devereux CARES is to maximize each child's potential in all curricular areas. These include:

  • Receptive, expressive and written communication social skills
  • Personal, domestic and community daily living skills
  • Social, play/leisure and coping skills
  • Age appropriate (pre-)academic skills
  • Fine and gross motor skills
  • Employment skills

2. As mentioned, CARES delivers instruction via contemporary strategies consistent with Applied Behavior Analysis. These include but are not limited to:

  • Individual and small group instruction
  • Skills taught in context during natural and preferred activities
  • Functional Communication Training (PECS or other augmentative communication systems)
  • A variety of lesson formats (chaining, incidental teaching, shaping, and discrete trial)
  • Visual mediation (for schedules, reward systems, communication and social skills)
  • Use of specialized prompting procedures
  • Data-based decision making
  • Positive Behavior Support Planning

Staff Leadership

Devereux CARES is under the direction of Todd Harris, Ph.D. with daily leadership by:

Bethany Bates, Principal

Ms. Bates has not only worked with students with autism, both in residential and educational settings, for 34 years – she has spent her entire professional career at Devereux.  She was also part of the team that built Devereux CARES from its early days of a few families to today, where it serves 60 students from the Delaware Valley and beyond.   Ms. Bates received a Bachelor’s of Science in Elementary Education from West Chester University and a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership from Immaculata University.  She also holds certifications in supervisor of special education and principal. Her specific areas of interest within autism spectrum disorders include Applied Behavior Analysis, community-based instruction, the parent-school partnership and service learning opportunities for the children.

Lori Pisaneschi, M.Ed., Supervisor of Special Education

Ms. Pisaneschi has also been with Devereux CARES since its inception.  She has found great joy and satisfaction in watching the program grow and thrive since 1998, when she started as an Instructional Coordinator.  Lori has also grown with CARES, taking new responsibilities as a Teacher, Head Teacher and then her current role as Supervisor of Special Education.  Ms. Pisaneschi is a graduate of Wilkes University with Bachelors Degrees in Elementary Education and Sociology.  She subsequently received a Master’s of Education from Immaculata University and has certifications in special education, elementary education and early childhood education.  She is currently pursuing her certifications in supervisor of special education and principal, also from Immaculata.

Cathleen Albertson, M.A., BCBA, Clinical Coordinator

Ms. Albertson is the Clinical Coordinator for Devereux CARES in Downingtown, PA where she oversees all clinical aspects of the school and transition program. She received her BA in Psychology from the University of Richmond in Richmond, VA and her Master’s Degree in Psychology from Brandeis University in Waltham, MA, and has been a Board Certified Behavior Analyst since 2006.  Ms. Albertson’s began her career at Melmark and was appointed Director of Children’s Residential Services, where she was charged with the oversight and management of complex special education programming. Ms. Albertson has presented at national and regional conferences.  Areas of interest include staff training, transition services, collaboration with multiple disciplines, and feeding disorders.

CARES Research, Presentations, and Appearances

PUBLICATIONS and TOOLS

Lehigh University ASERT and Devereux Pennsylvania (December, 2010).  Community Inclusion for Adults with Autism.  A manual published through a grant from Pennsylvania’s Bureau of Autism Services.

Devereux Pennsylvania (May 2010).  Autism Transition Wiki (autismhandbook.org).  An internet-based support tool for families developed through a grant from Pennsylvania DOE.

Hansen, B., Harris, T.A., & Dickey, K.H. (2009).  Family Handbook on Transition Services.  Published through a grant from Pennsylvania DOE.

PAPERS PRESENTED AT MEETINGS

Harris, T.A., & Trusler, L. (2012, September).  Supporting adolescents and adults with autism.  Presentation at the Legacy of Care Conference, Framingham, MA.

Harris, T.A., & Trusler, L. (2012, September).  Teaching community skills to individuals with autism.  Presentation at the Legacy of Care Conference, Framingham, MA.

Albertson, C.M. & Hirst, J.M. (2012, May). Increasing implementation of behavior support plans through performance feedback and video self-evaluation. Poster presented at the Annual Conference of the Association for Behavior Analysis International, Seattle, WA.

Harris, T.A. & Albertson, C.M. (2012, May). Implementation of a professional development series in ABA and Autism across several programs in a large human services organization: Professional Education in Autism Clinical Services (PEACS). Poster presented at the Annual Conference of the Association for Behavior Analysis International, Seattle, WA.

Albertson, C.M. & Hirst, J.M. (2012, March). Increasing implementation of behavior support plans through performance feedback and video self-evaluation. Poster presented at the Annual Conference of the Pennsylvania Association for Behavior Analysis, Hershey, PA.

Albertson, C.M. & Hirst, J.M. (2012, January). Increasing implementation of behavior support plans through performance feedback and video self-evaluation. Poster presented at the Annual Autism Conference of the Association for Behavior Analysis International, Philadelphia, PA.

Albertson, C.M., Frederick, L.M., & Louis, P.D. (2011, October). Treatment Integrity Methods for Residential and Educational Settings. Workshop presented at Autism New Jersey, Atlantic City, NJ.

Amoroso, J.N., Plum, V., Jacques, J., & Albertson, C.M. (2011, March).  Increasing engagement through the use of antecedent exercise.  Poster presented at the Annual Conference of the Pennsylvania Association for Behavior Analysis, Hershey, PA. 

Dickey, K.H., Albertson, C.M., Pisaneschi, L.A. & Harris, T. (2011, March). Assessing a staff training, feedback, and goal setting package on increasing opportunities to respond in young students with autism. Poster presented at the Annual Conference of the Pennsylvania Association for Behavior Analysis, Hershey, PA. 

Harris, T.A. & Albertson, C.M. (2010, October). Supporting students with autism through community-based instruction. Workshop presented at Devereux/SPARC Transition Conference, Downingtown, PA.

Amoroso, J.N., Plum, V., Jacques, J., & Albertson, C.M. (2010, August).  Increasing engagement through the use of antecedent exercise.  Poster presented at the National Autism Conference, State College, PA. 

Harris, T.A., El-Attar, B.L., Albertson, C.M. & Bonn, W. (2010, August). Supporting families through the transition years. Workshop presented at the National Autism Conference, State College, PA.

Harris, T.A., El-Attar, B.L. & Albertson, C.M. (2010, August). Supporting families through the transition years. Poster presented at the National Autism Conference, State College, PA.

Harris, T.A., El-Attar, B.L., Albertson, C.M. & Bonn, W. (2010, July). Supporting families through the transition years. Workshop presented at the Transition Services Conference, State College, PA.

Harris, T.A., El-Attar, B.L. & Albertson, C.M. (2010, July). Supporting families through the transition years. Poster presented at the Transition Services Conference, State College, PA.

Albertson, C.M., Hirst, J.M.. Pallotta, A. & Janyszek, L. (2010, May). Determining the most effective treatment for increasing active engagement and decreasing inappropriate work behavior for an individual with autism. Poster presented at the Annual Conference of the Association for Behavior Analysis International, San Antonio, TX.

Dickey, K.H., Albertson, C.M., Pisaneschi, L.A. & Harris, T.A. (2010, May). Assessing a staff training, feedback, and goal setting package on increasing opportunities to respond in young students with autism. Poster presented at the Annual Conference of the Association for Behavior Analysis International, San Antonio, TX.

Frey, A.J., Amoroso, J.N., Bennett, J., Royer, J., & Albertson, C.M. (2010, May). Decreasing disruptive behavior through the use of differential reinforcement of diminishing rates of behavior. Poster presented at the Annual Conference of the Association for Behavior Analysis International, San Antonio, TX.

Harris, T.A., El-Attar, B.L., Albertson, C.M. & Bonn, W. (2010, April). Supporting families through the transition years. Workshop presented at the Penn Autism Network Conference, Horsham, PA.

Harris, T.A., El-Attar, B.L. & Albertson, C.M. (2010, April). Supporting families through the transition years. Poster presented at the Annual Pennsylvania Department of Education Conference, Hershey, PA.

Albertson, C.M. & Frederick, L.M. (2009, October). Collaborating with ancillary therapies to provide effective services. Workshop presented at Autism New Jersey, Atlantic City, NJ.

Frey, A.J. & Bennett, J. (2009, August). Decreasing anti-social behavior though the use of differential reinforcement of lower rates of behavior. Poster presented at the National Autism Conference, State College, PA.

Harris, T.A., El-Attar, B.L., Schweizer, J., & Koser, Ondrea (2009, July).  Effective Partnerships in Transition Programming for Students with Autism.  PA Community on Transition Conference, State College, PA.

Neifer, K., Harris, T.A., & Dickey, K.H. (2008, November).  Utilizing a Systematic Observation System to Monitor Progress of Students with Autism during Community-Based Vocational Training.  Poster presented at the Annual Conference for the Association for Behavior Analysis International, Chicago, IL.

Harris, T. A. & Bates, B. (2008, March).  Increasing Meaningful Skill Instruction Through the Use of Service Learning.  Conference sponsored by the Bucks County Autism Support Coalition, Doylestown, PA.

Harris, T.A. (2007, November).  Supporting Adults with Autism.  Pennsylvania State Sub-Committee Hearing (sponsored by Rep. Barbara McIlvaine-Smith), West Chester, PA.

Harris, T.A. & Neifer, K. (2007, July).  Implementing a Structured Community-Based Instruction program.  PA Community on Transition Conference, State College, PA.

Tuzikow, J., & Harris, T.A. (2007, May).  Teachers' Accuracy in Reporting Students' Challenging Behaviors.  Association for Behavior Analysis International, Sydney, Australia.

Harris, T.A., & Evans, V. (2007, April).  Effectively Educating Children with Autism in School Settings.  Pennsylvania’s Coalition of Charter School Annual Conference, Philadelphia, PA.

Harris, T.A. (2007, April).  Critical Components Related to Educating Adolescents with Autism.  Pennsylvania’s Children’s Interagency Training Conference, State College, PA.

Harris, T.A., Neifer, K., & Witherspoon, C.  (2007, March).  Supporting Students with Autism Through Community-Based Instruction.  University of Pennsylvania’s Autism Network Conference, Philadelphia, PA.

Harris, T.A. (March 2006 and 2007).  Functional Behavioral Assessment and Positive Behavioral Support.  Presented to Psychiatry Residents at CHOP, Philadelphia, PA.

Harris, T.A. (2006, October).  Best Practices in Educating Individuals with Autism.  Chester County Autism Alliance, Downingtown, PA.

Harris, T.A., & Neifer, K. (March 29th, 2006).  What Parents Should Consider When Evaluating School Programs for their Child With Autism.  West Chester (PA) Daily Local News.

Harris, T.A. (2005, November).  Best Practices in Educating Individuals with Autism.  Annual Conference for the Independent Educational Consultants Association.  Philadelphia, PA.

SEMINARS AND APPEARANCES

Harris, T.A., & Lau, J. (2012, November).  Issues Related to Adults With Autism.  Autism One radio Show hosted by Dr. David Holmes.

Harris, T.A., El-Attar, B.L., Albertson, C.M. & Burgess, C. (2010, April). Best Practices in Transition: Critical Components Related to Educating Adolescents with Autism. Webinar broadcast from PaTTAN, King of Prussia, PA.

Harris, T. A. (2010, April).  Informing Families and Supporting Families during the Transition to Adulthood.  Appearance on the television show:  Philly Factor; Philadelphia, PA.

Amoroso, J.N. & Hirst, J.M. (2010, February).  The Use of Assessment of Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders in Guiding Educational Planning.  Presented in Devereux Corporate Center, PA.

Harris, T. A. (2010, February).  Issues Related to Serving Adults with Autism.  Appearance on the television show:  For the Health of It; Phoenixville, PA.

Harris, T.A.  (2004, November).  Siblings of Special Needs Children.  National Public Radio (WHYY, Philadelphia) Panel Discussion; Dr. Dan Gottlieb’s Voices in the Family.

WORKSHOPS AND CONFERENCES

Devereux/SPARC Transition Conference:  Pressing Issues; Promising Solutions (October, 2010).  Along with SPARC, we conceptualized and implemented a one-day conference on issues related to the transition to adulthood for individuals living with an autism spectrum disorder.

Devereux CARES’ Summer Autism Conferences, August 2009 and 2010.  Developed and implemented three day conferences on autism, applied behavior analysis, and positive behavior support practices for educators working with students with an ASD in public and private school settings. 

Note- in the summer of 2010, we trained over 100 staff during three conferences in PA and DE

Chester County Autism Training Project, Fall 2004 to Present.  Developed and implemented a series of two-day workshops for all BSCs, MTs, and TSS working with individuals with autism in Chester County, PA.  To date, over 1200 staff have been trained.

GRANT FUNDING

Competitively Awarded Research and Training Grants:

Promoting Excellence in Autism Clinical Services, 2010, Ronald Burd Fund. Funded as a professional development program for clinicians and administrators to acquire and demonstrate clinical competencies when working with individuals with an autism spectrum disorder and their staff.  Amount:  $60,000 for 16 months.

Supporting Families Going Through the Transition Years, 2009, Pennsylvania Department of Education.  Funded as a demonstration project to develop and implement and assess practices that educate and support families through the transition years.  Amount:  $43,000 for 9 months.

Working Together:  Partnerships Designed to Support Adolescents with Autism, 2008, Pennsylvania Department of Education. Funded as a demonstration project to illustrate how the Devereux CARES Adolescent and Young Adult program model can be implemented in public school settings.  Amount:  $45,000 for 9 months.

Supporting Adults with an ASD, 2007, Pennsylvania’s Bureau of Autism Services. Funded to develop and disseminate information on a comprehensive program model for adults with an ASD.  Amount:  $150,000 over 18 months.

Getting to Work: Supporting Adolescents with Autism, 2006, Pennsylvania Department of Education.  Funded to develop and disseminate information on a comprehensive transitional program model for students with an ASD.  Amount:  $150,000 over 18 months.

Supporting Paraprofessional Staff Working with Students with Autism in Public Schools, 2005, Pennsylvania Department of Education. Provided training and feedback to paraprofessional staff working with students with an ASD.  Amount:  $10,000

Chester County Autism Grant, 2004 to Present.  Provides a series of two-day training to wraparound staff working with individuals with autism. Approximately 250 staff trained annually on issues relating to autism and intervention strategies.  Amount:  Approximately $45,000 annually.

Parent and Family Involvement

Families and caregivers play an integral role at Devereux CARES and are considered equal partners during the planning and implementation stages that identify skill development.  This collaboration is facilitated through daily communication among teachers and families as well as scheduled meetings such as the IEP, Futures Planning, Parent-Teacher Organization, and Quality Improvement meetings (where program planning and development occurs).  Additionally, there are parent-professional committees that focus upon transitional planning and adult services.

Also, parent education is critical for the student’s improvement.  As challenging behaviors decrease and adaptive skills increase, parents may also need guidance and training in appropriate limit-setting, successful instructional techniques and functional communication skills. To provide adequate supervision and structure in the home, parents may need assistance in recognizing and preventing situations that may have caused problems in the past, and learn how to provide appropriate techniques to shape and reinforce acceptable behavior.

Operational Information

Location

The school is located in a newly renovated facility on the grounds of the Devereux Day School at 620 Boot Road in Downingtown, PA. The ample educational space accommodates 1:1 and group instruction, as well as after school/recreational activities.

Directions

From the West and South:  Take Rt. 202 to Boot Rd.  Proceed west on Boot Rd for approximately 5.3 miles.  Go past the Devereux Children’s ID/D Services campus, past Rt. 100, through two railroad tunnels and come to a light (Quarry Road/Valley Creek).  Go straight at the light, up the hill, past the “Windridge” development and immediately look for a “Devereux Day School” sign.  Turn left into driveway and then follow road around to the right.  Go past the buildings on the right and past the athletic field.  Our building is on the right after the athletic field.  Parking is beyond the building next to the play ground or on the other side of the large house that is on the west side of the first parking area.

From the North:  Take the PA Turnpike to exit 23.  Follow Rt. 100 south until Rt. 30 Bypass (which is just after Rt. 30 Business).  Go west on Rt. 30 toward Downingtown.  Get off at the first exit (about 1.9 miles; US 30 Business/Lancaster Ave.) and then make a left at the light at the end of the ramp.  Stay left and make another left at the light immediately after you go back under Rt. 30 (which is Quarry Road).  Take Quarry Road until you reach Boot Road (which is the second light).  Make a right onto Boot Road.  Go up the hill, past the “Windridge” development and immediately look for a “Devereux Day School” sign.  Turn left into driveway and then follow road around to the right.  Go past the buildings on the right and past the athletic field.  Our building is on the right after the athletic field.  Parking is beyond the building next to the play ground or on the other side of the large house that is on the west side of the first parking area.

From the East: Take Rt. 30 Bypass to US 30 Business/Lancaster Ave. exit.  When you reach the light at the  end of the ramp, make a left onto to Quarry Road.  Take Quarry Road to Boot Road. Make a right onto Boot Road.  Go up the hill, past the “Windridge” development and immediately look for a “Devereux Day School” sign.  Turn left into driveway and then follow road around to the right.  Go past the buildings on the right and past the athletic field.  Our building is on the right after the athletic field.  Parking is beyond the building next to the playground or on the other side of the large house that is on the west side of the first parking area.

Licensure

Devereux CARES is licensed as an Approved Private School by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, which includes licensure for autism.

Student Population

The school serves up to 60 children, ages 5 through 21, with a confirmed primary diagnosis of Autism, Asperger's Syndrome, or Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified (PDD/NOS).

Operational Time

The school operates 5 days per week, 180 days per year. A 39-day (approximate) extended school year program is available, pending eligibility. The instructional day begins at 8:45 a.m. and ends at 2:45 p.m.

Funding

Students placed at CARES are funded through an approved PDE form 4010, filed following acceptance and prior to enrollment. Students between the ages of 4 years 6 months and 5 years are funded by the placing county intermediate unit according to CARES' daily per diem.

Transportation

Transportation is arranged, provided, and funded by the placing school districts or intermediate units according to each student's specific transportation needs. Parents may elect to transport their child personally.

Staffing

Each of CARES' classrooms maintains an intensive staff:student ratio (typically 4:5). Classrooms are staffed by a certified special education teacher, primary instructional coordinator and instructional coordinators. The ratio of primary instructional coordinators and instructional coordinators may vary depending on the needs of each classroom.


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