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Devereux’s Response to Issues of Resident Safety

(Spanish language version here.)

The recent incidents reported by The Philadelphia Inquirer are heartbreaking and unacceptable, and we must always ensure we’ve learned from the past and are constantly driving change in our organization and industry. Although these incidents were all properly reported, it does not take away from their impact and the significance of this issue across our industry. We commend those who have used their platform to shed light on an industry-wide problem that we, at Devereux, are working hard to address.

In 2018, we began putting into place industry-leading processes and technologies to prevent any form of systemic abuse, which included launching an organizational redesign initiative, and raising direct care and supervisory staff compensation to be the highest in Pennsylvania.

Our parents and valued partners at regulatory agencies, and in law enforcement, have recognized our policies, trainings, and investments, including our un-matched use of video cameras, as the most advanced in the field. As a result, Devereux is able to flag incidents of abusive behavior and notify authorities immediately, rather than allow illicit behavior to go unnoticed and unreported. We have invested more than $30 million annually in safety-related capital improvements, comprehensive video monitoring technologies and increased direct care and supervisory staff pay – all aimed at ensuring safe and compassionate programs. We knew that the journey would be difficult, and the results would not be immediate, but we are encouraged to see that, because of these efforts, major risk events in our organization have decreased 43 percent between the 2019 and 2020 fiscal years.

In addition to these advancements, 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 regarding safety measures at our children’s programs. We are looking forward to the conclusion of that introspective audit so we can create an even safer environment for the children in our care and provide a roadmap for the rest of the industry to follow, as well.

Organizational change does not happen overnight, but we are moving in the right direction, and at a rapid pace, to reflect the urgency of the situation. Devereux is committed to helping children and families who have experienced significant trauma. This group is chronically underserved not just in Pennsylvania, but across the United States. We seek to instill in our workforce a culture of transparency and accountability, combined with a true devotion to safety, quality and continuous service improvement.

As part of keeping this commitment, we will not forget the events of the past for which we apologize and will remain steadfast in our responsibility to do everything in our power to prevent future incidences from happening under our watch. At Devereux, we will embrace every opportunity to push harder, to do better, and to be of true service to those who need us.

 

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