Almost a year ago, a number of former employees who were fired for performance-related issues, and/or violations of company policies and procedures, decided to strike back at Centria by making a number of false allegations about our business and our current employees. Earlier this year, a media outlet gave these accusations legitimacy through a series of articles.
These accusations are a combination of mistruths, exaggerations, and outright lies, and it was truly heartbreaking to see such anger and ill-intent being directed at our company and the people who work tirelessly on behalf of the children and families who we serve.
Unfortunately, the narrative has persisted, even in the face of lack of evidence.
We have been reluctant to commit resources refuting these baseless charges when more than 2,000 children and their families across the country rely on us every day to provide critical therapy for children with autism and help them to reach their maximum potential.
Yet, it is important that our families, team members, and other stakeholders in the autism community know who we are—and who we are not.
#1. Centria is the nation’s leading provider of autism support and Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy, which is widely recognized as the most effective treatment for autism and is the primary practice endorsed by the U.S. Surgeon General and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
#2. We have won awards and recognition for the care we provide. In New Mexico recently, our operations director was named a Behavioral Health Star by the State of New Mexico’s Behavioral Health Planning Council.
#3. Those who say that children are being over-diagnosed or over-treated have simply parted ways with the evidence and published findings. If anything, children are being under-diagnosed with this condition. The CDC just released a report saying that the occurrence is increasing, and, as a society, we are losing critical treatment opportunities because we are not diagnosing children in a timely manner. The most effective way to help children with ASD and their families is to diagnose them and begin intensive treatment as soon as possible, especially within the first two years of childhood; guidelines from the AAP and others recommend “a minimum of 25 hours a week of therapy 12 months a year” of behavioral intervention. That is exactly our mission and we will never stop fighting for our clients and the children who live with autism.
#4. The phrase “Medicaid fraud” has been used recklessly by our accusers and in the media. We work diligently with insurance providers and states to process tens of thousands of transactions with both government agencies and commercial insurers. As with almost all hospitals and health systems, there can, and have been, an expected number of minor clerical and other errors. However, we are also subject to regular audits – more than 80 audits over the last 2 years.
#5. The Attorney General (AG) of Michigan is, in fact, looking into the matter. We understand their need to do so and we have been cooperating fully with their inquiry. We accept the responsibility that comes from being the state’s leading provider of ABA autism services and a growing company. We were also awarded an economic development grant from the state and accept the extra scrutiny that comes with that recognition. We will continue to answer every last question the AG’s office has and are confident there will be no findings of wrongdoing.
#6. We have not been contacted by nor are we aware of any other investigations by any regulatory or law enforcement agencies.
#7. We have, and will continue to, set high standards for our staff, and follow all laws that relate to the privacy of employee and patient records.
Lastly, the hardest part of all this for me personally, is the completely unwarranted and inaccurate demeaning of our team of clinicians, behavior technicians, and support service staff who work hard every day to do a great job for the children we serve. Our team members are highly competent and have qualifications ranging from experience in the field to master’s degrees, but most importantly have strong character and the passion to give their time and effort to others to better their lives.
Let me say to our people in the field directly: You deserve to feel proud of the work you do every day. I am proud of you and of our organization. You are out there doing a very difficult, but very important job. We do our best to give you the training and support that you need, but you are the ones out there providing therapy and hope to people who desperately need both. Every day that you go to work, you are showing a level of courage, compassion and selflessness that most people cannot imagine. I admire you, and it is a privilege to have you as part of our team.
As a company, we have set ambitious goals. When caring for children and families, we have to be as good as we can possibly be. We recognize that what worked well when we were smaller sometimes needs to change as we grow; we are constantly learning and work hard to get better every single day. We have and will continue to create new human services jobs and invest millions of dollars in quality initiatives, technology, training, and education to stay on the leading edge of this field. As I said, more than 2,000 children are counting on us. We are focused on those families and nothing will ever distract us from our mission.
Scott Barry, CEO