Message from President and CEO Carl E. Clark II: An Open Letter to our Families and Communities
(Spanish language version here.)
September 10, 2020
An Open Letter to Our Families and Community:
For more than 100 years, Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health has been committed to caring for children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities and behavioral health needs. Our founder had no way of knowing how many children and families would be helped across the coming century, when in 1912 in her Philadelphia classroom, she chose to be the first among her peers to stop marginalizing students with learning disabilities.
Helena Devereux’s residential school in Devon would slowly evolve into a national nonprofit healthcare system, which today serves more than 25,000 of the most vulnerable and marginalized people in our country every year. Devereux has always maintained its specialty in caring for people with autism and other intellectual and developmental disabilities. Across the last five decades, the organization has also created nationally recognized best-in-class services for children who need highly specialized behavioral healthcare. Those services, like all Devereux programs, bring with them an enormous responsibility to children and their families. Over the last 20 years, driven by the dedication of more than 68,000 hard-working staff, we have embraced that responsibility as a sacred trust, and have helped 95,000 young people in our children’s therapeutic residential programs alone.
The families and communities who know Devereux understand how heartbroken we are anytime someone is hurt in our care. It is devastating for our clients and families, as well as for our 7,500 devoted staff members. Keeping clients safe, while supporting them through what may very well be the most significant moment of crisis in their lives, is what drives us to improve every day. Being a good provider has never been good enough for Devereux. We are constantly advancing for those who need us.
To protect those in our care, we have not shied away from the complicated challenges faced by every provider in our field. These matters are complex and industry-wide, but we understand the hard work that needs to be done, and we committed many years ago to doing it.
Our Board of Trustees, half of whom are parents or siblings of individuals in our care, demand excellence – and like all Devereux families, they deserve it. They, along with our many networked groups of advocates, including our National Family Advisory Board, are intimately involved in ensuring Devereux does the right thing.
Last month, for example, following the Philadelphia Inquirer’s review of incidents in care stemming back 38 years, our Board led us in retaining former U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, in her role as partner at the firm of Paul, Weiss, to conduct an independent audit of safety at our children’s programs. Devereux’s commissioning of this audit is not based on any regulatory requirement, nor is it being done at the request of any system partner or outside entity.
This is just how Devereux operates – with a genuine dedication to doing the right thing with full transparency and accountability. Ultimately, the goal of this audit is to ensure no stone is left unturned in our quest to create the safest and highest quality programs and services possible. We will leverage any recommendations to expand upon the excellent work already being done at our organization every day.
Devereux’s work is among the most complex, and the most important, in the nonprofit healthcare field. Particularly in our behavioral health programs, we help children and families who have experienced the deepest levels of trauma – often multi-generational. Over the last decade, many providers across the country have decided to end their services in this area. Devereux’s continued work to help those who need us most is ingrained in our organizational DNA – as is a culture of transparency and accountability, combined with a true devotion to safety, quality and continuous improvement.
I speak on behalf of every dedicated staff member at Devereux when I affirm we will always embrace every opportunity to push harder, to do better and to be of true service to those who need us. This is the commitment we live by.
Carl E. Clark II
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