MPA Children's Services
The Melmark School
The Melmark School is an approved private school, licensed by the Pennsylvania Department of Education and specializing in serving students, ages five to 21, who require an intensive, individualized educational approach with a behavioral focus designed in an educationally appropriate learning environment due to a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorders and other intellectual and developmental disabilities, which may be secondary to complex behavioral profiles.
Our supportive staff-student ratio (as determined by the Individualized Education Program (IEP) team) allows us to focus on each student’s personal growth and development, shaping a learning environment that fits each child’s specific needs. Our educational direct support staff come to Melmark with at least 50 college credits. All classrooms are supervised by a highly qualified certified special education teacher.
The Melmark School is defined by its comprehensive and collaborative clinical service delivery model, incorporating the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) into an individualized learning model. We implement each student’s IEP as coordinated with the IEP team. Our educational programs are integrated to work in collaboration with community resources and include both pre-vocational and vocational training.
- Clinical team members consisting of special education teachers, Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBAs), education administrators who are also BCBAs, occupational therapists, and speech/language pathology professionals.
- Specially designed classrooms for students with intensive behavioral and learning needs
- Nursing department for health needs
- Playgrounds, gymnasium, and 80+-acre program setting
- 12-month school year cycle (10-month school year, plus six-week Extended School Year (ESY)) for both day and residential students
- Specially designed individual and group instruction provided in anticipation of transitions to inclusive settings including back to public school
- Ongoing assessment of skills to aid in goal setting and bi-weekly student progress monitoring
- Extensive utilization of technology to facilitate learning, including Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) devices, SMART Boards®, etc.
Residential Treatment Facility (RTF)
Melmark Pennsylvania’s Residential Treatment Facility (RTF) is a neurobehavioral program specializing in the assessment and treatment of severe and treatment-resistant challenging behavior for children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders and other intellectual and developmental disabilities. The goal of the RTF is to help each child attain the highest level of personal growth, achievement, and independence by decreasing challenging behaviors and facilitating the reunification of the individual with his or her family in a less restrictive environment.
- Support to children and adolescents, ages five to 21, with behaviors that present risk of harm to self and others, and limit access to community participation
- An evidence-based and outcome-driven service model
- An intervention philosophy rooted in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)
- On-campus housing
- Opportunities for children to participate in activities on and off-campus
- Integration of behavior analytic services with psychiatric and rehabilitative care
- Parent training based on a “one-to-one” observational/practical-learning model with the child, parent, and Melmark staff
Melmark works with the local school district to determine an appropriate educational placement for the child. Children admitted to the RTF may attend a full-school day at The Melmark School, Melmark Pennsylvania’s approved private school in specially designed classrooms. Prior to attending The Melmark School, an IEP is developed to meet the educational needs of the child while focusing on stabilizing challenging behaviors that may be impeding educational progress. During the first 45 days, assessments are conducted which determine an updated IEP.
Active family involvement is a required component of care. Parents, family members, and other caregivers identified as integral to the family reunification process are expected to visit and to participate in regular training sessions. Support from Melmark Pennsylvania staff is slowly tapered until parents or other caregivers are able to effectively implement their child’s behavior support plan at Melmark, in the community, and at home.
Discharge planning is an essential part of treatment and begins during the admissions process. Melmark Pennsylvania staff, inter-agency team members, and parents will work to identify an appropriate discharge site if one has not already been identified.
Melmark Pennsylvania offers residential/educational placements within one of three homes located in the Melmark Pennsylvania program setting for students, ages five to 21, whose Individualized Education Program (IEP) objectives require a 24-hour therapeutic and structured learning environment. All programming is focused on Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), and we adhere to the highest standard of residential care and supervised supportive services designed to meet each student’s individual needs.
Within each home, under the closer supervision of well-trained staff, many of whom have bachelor’s degrees or higher, children work on self-care, leisure time, vocational, communication, daily living, and community IEP goals in a homelike atmosphere. Children enjoy outdoor play activities and community recreational and leisure activities. Outings are a regular occurrence and include activities such as trips to the park, movies, outdoor concerts, grocery shopping, and local attractions.
Similar to our day school program, each home is staffed with a 1:2 ABA staff to student ratio (or 1:1 ABA staff to student ratio if designated by the IEP) during all awake hours, and a 1:4 ratio for asleep hours. The residential program is supervised by senior staff with advanced degrees and certifications. In addition, the homes are supported by 24-hour on-call nursing support, as well as administrative and senior clinical staff.
Family reunification is an essential goal for all residential students. Families receive ongoing training in order to successfully be prepared for school closing periods with their child. Our goal for each child, when appropriate, is to return to the family’s home or a less restrictive environment as soon as possible.
Melmark provides a safe and motivating environment that promotes growth by facilitating individualized goals and services. Residential students who attend The Melmark School reside in a home-like atmosphere in one of our four on-campus houses, where they are easily able to access campus resources and services. Students are able to actively take part in community-based social and recreational outings such as trips to the park, movies, outdoor concerts, and other local attractions.
Partnering with Families
Melmark’s Children’s Services team works with the family, listens to their concerns, understands their challenges, and focuses on supports that will ensure the successful delivery of services. We offer parent training with the child and Melmark staff that follows an observational/practical model. We prepare the child for a greater level of independence in an enriched environment to be successful in a less restrictive setting or an adult setting.
Rehabilitative Services and Health Care
To meet the individualized needs of Melmark Pennsylvania’s children and adults in our day and residential programs, our allied health services professionals work alongside other professional staff to provide a comprehensive range of ancillary health-related services including:
Speech and Language Therapy: Speech and language therapists are on staff to provide functional communication training for students and adults who are verbal and non-verbal. In addition, these professionals provide continued training in the areas of early language skills, social/pragmatic language skills, articulation skills, swallowing disorders, and, when appropriate, the use of Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) devices. Services are provided through a direct or indirect model.
Occupational Therapy: Occupational therapists provide students with training and/or environmental adaptations for fine motor development, written communication, daily living skills (e.g. dressing, self-feeding), domestic and vocational skills (e.g. meal preparation). Services are provided through a consultative or direct model.
Physical Therapy: Physical therapists aid students and adults with gross motor needs, coordination, flexibility, motor planning, and balance to promote functional mobility and improve positioning. Services are provided through a consultative or direct model.
Healthcare Services: Melmark Pennsylvania’s nursing staff is comprised of Registered Nurses who have experience working with individuals diagnosed with special needs. These dedicated professionals oversee the general health of the individuals we serve including coordinating on-site flu and dental clinics. They also coordinate routine medical care for residential students and adults, provided onsite weekly by a trained internist.
A behavioral framework is used to assess, prescribe, implement, and reassess the delivery of speech and language, physical, and occupational, and other ancillary services. All services provided follow evidence-based intervention guidelines.