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The PLEA Agency to Join Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health

Devereux Health - PLEA logo

Enhancing Services for Individuals in the Allegheny County Region Living with Autism, Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, and Behavioral Health Challenges

Pittsburgh, Pa. – May 23, 2023 – The PLEA Agency, a nonprofit mental health and education provider offering treatment, care and community-based services to individuals living with autism, intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) and behavioral health challenges, today announced it will become an affiliate of Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health, one of Pennsylvania’s largest nonprofit behavioral healthcare providers, serving 25,000 children and adults in 12 states.

As an affiliate of Devereux, PLEA will remain an independent legal entity, with Gretchen Kelly continuing to serve as executive director. PLEA will also maintain its name and full employee base, as well as its vendor and community partnerships. PLEA will continue to offer its full array of programs supporting people with autism, intellectual and developmental disabilities, and behavioral health challenges. Individuals and families currently served by PLEA will continue to receive the high-quality, compassionate care they expect, in the same program locations. As a result of this new partnership, they will also benefit from Devereux’s clinical expertise, compliance experience and technological infrastructure.

“We are excited to partner with Devereux to enhance our efforts to provide critical intervention and support programs to vulnerable children, families and adults across our communities. Every day, families reach out to us in the hopes of receiving our services, and now, through this partnership, we will have the ability, along with the financial backing, to grow and expand our programs, which are desperately needed in western Pennsylvania,” said PLEA Executive Director Gretchen Kelly. “As an independent affiliate of Devereux, we will have a clear path to further improving the lives of our most fragile and underserved populations in the greater Pittsburgh region.”

“The PLEA Agency is a like-minded, mission-driven organization that shares Devereux’s cultural values and deep commitment to person-centered, community-driven care,” said Devereux President and CEO Carl E. Clark II. “PLEA’s school-based partial hospital program is an outstanding specialty service, and a niche area we see as the future of the industry for children and adolescents living with autism and IDD, or who are experiencing acute behavioral health concerns. We are thrilled to partner with PLEA, and to continue our expansion into the western side of the Commonwealth. We see tremendous opportunities to work together as we reimagine the future of behavioral healthcare in Allegheny County and beyond.”

Benefits for PLEA

As a Devereux affiliate, PLEA will gain immediate access to Devereux’s national model of clinical best practices and evidence-based care. Specific benefits for PLEA include: enhanced employee training, professional education and skill enrichment; enhanced benefits and advancement opportunities for PLEA teams; advanced recruiting resources from Devereux’s national talent acquisition platform; and enriched programs and services from Devereux’s internationally recognized clinical, medical and leadership resources, as well as enhanced quality and safety protocols, and risk management data systems.

PLEA employees also will benefit from Devereux’s new ASCEND Career Accelerator Program, designed exclusively to give behavioral healthcare workers the support and financial assistance they need to reach their full potential through:

  • multi-track career path and advancement opportunities;
  • financial support for tuition and education costs;
  • personalized career coaching;
  • dedicated mentoring and professional development.

Under the ASCEND program, full-time team members in career-aligned tracks will receive 100% of tuition, fees and textbook costs – up to $15,000 for undergraduate classes and $25,000 for graduate-level classes on an annual basis. Student loan repayment will also be offered up to $200 per pay period for eligible full-time team members, and up to $100 per pay for part-time staff utilizing the national Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program where applicable.

This relationship will help PLEA continue to grow and advance its deeply-rooted mission of serving Allegheny County’s most vulnerable communities.

Benefits for Devereux

The partnership with PLEA will deepen Devereux’s behavioral health treatment practices and perspectives in specific clinical areas, such as school-based partial hospital programming and respite care. In addition, Devereux will benefit from PLEA’s recognized expertise in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), Precision Teaching (PT) and Acceptance and Commitment Training (ACT). The partnership also enables Devereux to continue expanding its reach into western Pennsylvania. Together, PLEA and Devereux will be able to grow into more areas and better serve individuals and families throughout the Commonwealth.

The affiliation will be effective July 1, 2023, subject to customary legal and regulatory approvals.

To better oversee the partnership, PLEA’s Board will be reconstituted to include three Devereux appointees and two PLEA appointees. In the future, we will create an Allegheny County-based Advisory Board that is expected to be comprised of current PLEA Board members, friends and supporters. The combination of services and support functions between the two organizations will evolve over the next 12 to 18 months.

About Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health

Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health is one of the nation’s largest nonprofit organizations, providing services, insight and leadership in the evolving field of behavioral healthcare. Founded in 1912, Devereux operates a comprehensive national network of clinical, therapeutic, educational and employment programs that positively impact the lives of tens of thousands of children, adults – and their families – every year. The organization’s unique approach combines evidence-based interventions with compassionate family engagement.

With nearly 6,500 employees working in programs across the country, Devereux is a trusted partner for families, schools and communities, serving many of our country’s most vulnerable populations in the areas of autism, intellectual and developmental disabilities, specialty mental health, education and foster care. For more than a century, Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health has been guided by a simple and enduring mission: To change lives by unlocking and nurturing human potential for people living with emotional, behavioral and cognitive differences. www.devereux.org.

About the PLEA Agency

Incorporated in 1966, the PLEA Agency is a nonprofit agency providing mental health and education services for children, families and adults living with autism, intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) and behavioral health challenges.

PLEA offers specialized and customized services for youth, including a school-based partial hospital program and respite care, as well as formal friendship, peer socialization and recreational programming for adults. The agency also operates the ACT Institute, which trains families, clinicians, teachers and organizations in Acceptance and Commitment Training. This training helps individuals learn to become more present and stay connected with actual experiences, even if accompanied by distress and challenges. Rooted in compassion and driven by clinical excellence, PLEA’s community-minded model delivers hope and healing to the most fragile individuals and families across the Allegheny County region. https://plea-agency.org/.


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