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Authors Posts by Richard Edley

Richard Edley

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Dr. Richard Edley is the lead executive for RCPA and is responsible for all aspects of operations and direction for the association. His professional career began in 1988 and most recently he was president and CEO of PerformCare/Community Behavioral HealthCare Network of Pennsylvania, Inc., a national, full-service, behavioral health managed care organization.

Having a mental health condition such as depression, anxiety, or a substance use disorder (SUD) can negatively impact one’s oral health, and conversely, poor oral health can create or exacerbate problems with mental health, cognitive health, and/or substance use. RCPA President & CEO Richard S. Edley, PhD, along with other members of the OH/BH Integration Technical Expert Panel, have developed an OH/BH Integration Framework, which includes new and innovative care models designed to enable providers and organizations to start wherever they feel comfortable.

No comprehensive set of resources currently exists to help health organizations that may be interested in more coordination or integration across oral, mental health, and substance use treatment services specifically. This toolkit seeks to help oral health and behavioral health providers and organizations increase coordination and integration by offering practical suggestions, resources, strategies, and on-the-ground examples for implementation of new care models across a continuum, ranging from cross-sector provider and patient education to full system integration. It provides innovative examples from leading-edge programs across the country about how to re-engineer traditional care pathways, especially given broader adoption of telehealth.

Please find the final draft of this framework here.

Leading in 2021: Hoping, Healing, Helping
RCPA Conference Featuring Panel with National Advocacy Experts for Review of the Need for Equity in Service:
National Release of Video

On Thursday, September 30, a video developed by a group of parents of children with severe autism will be “unveiled” publicly and nationally at the RCPA Annual Conference for the first time. Later in the afternoon, a panel addressing these concerns titled “One Size Does Not Fit All — A Review of the Need for Equity in Service Provision and Establishing A Comprehensive Continuum of Care” will include national advocacy experts discussing how the narrow interpretation of the HCBS setting rule and other policies potentially deprive individuals with intense needs choice in where they live, work, and play. Hear from the families on how these policies have impacted their loved ones’ quality of life.

The video contains disturbing images; however, the parents who produced this video felt compelled to share the reality of severe autism in order to combat the increasing claims of the highly vocal and publicly visible advocates and others who have the sole agenda of supporting those of higher functioning in the community.

In contrast, severely autistic individuals and their families are often not publicly visible. They may not be able to safely leave the house, let alone testify in a government hearing, present at a conference, or appear on television alongside other advocates.

But severe autism is real. This is what it looks like. And those affected require a true continuum of care — from the most inclusive options to disability-specific settings — to meet their lifelong support needs, not only to thrive, but to survive. One size does not fit all.

Register today for the RCPA Conference to see this national release.

Macro of burning candle isolated on black background

RCPA regrets to inform our members that Charles Ray, former President/CEO for the National Council, has passed away. In his long and remarkable career, Charles effected broad changes in the behavioral health field, of which the impact is long-lasting and felt by many. Please see the message below from Chuck Ingoglia, current President and CEO of the National Council for Mental Wellbeing. The RCPA staff would like to extend our heartfelt condolences to Charles’ family, colleagues, peers, and the rest of the behavioral health community.


One of the many things that makes the National Council special is our people. Today I am deeply saddened to announce the passing of a former employee who served with distinction.

Former President & Chief Executive Officer Charles Ray led the National Council for 15 years. He was a visionary leader of the managed care movement within the mental health community. After he left the National Council, Charles went on to work with and lead several organizations, most recently serving as Chair of the Board of Directors of The REACH Institute in New York, whose mission is to bring evidence based behavioral treatment to children and adolescents.

He was a wonderful leader, but don’t just take my word for it.

Carl Clark, a former National Council Board member, also remembered Charles fondly:
Charles Ray understood community behavioral health deeply from his running a center to the policy work he did through the National Council in Washington. He kept the needs of the people we serve and providers as the focus for making behavioral health services better in our country. I am thankful for his leadership and the lasting impact of his work.

Betty Funk, former National Council Board member, provided this thoughtful remembrance:
In the early days, Charles was a visionary leader of the managed care movement within the community mental health arena. It was a challenging time for all of us because we didn’t fit neatly into the complex health systems that needed to get geared up, and for the most part at the community level nationwide, we lacked comprehensive structure among ourselves. Through the National Council, and to some extent privately, Charles held the hands of all of us that got the message that we had to restructure and reorganize and learn how to collaborate, cooperative, count and compete. From the perspective of the Massachusetts system, Charles nurtured the creation of the best management practices that exist today.

His lasting impact can be seen in many aspects of the work we continue to do, and we ask that you keep his family, friends and loved ones in your thoughts during this difficult time.

Rest in Peace, Charles.

– Chuck

Every health and human services organization understands the enormity of the workforce crisis. Recruitment and retention have become impossible and vacancies across all service lines are evident. Unfortunately, this has also led to program closures without an end in sight. And that is one of the most alarming parts of this situation – what will change that will truly address the crisis?

[View the full RCPA position paper]

Each day we learn more about COVID and try to better understand the rules and guidelines being promulgated for safety. Just a couple of months ago, RCPA announced that we will continue all events virtually. One month later, we announced the ability to hold hybrid events with the option to attend in person. Clearly, that is what we all want, and what we hear from RCPA members.

So, with the Annual Conference approaching at the end of September, we need to again re-evaluate where we are with our approach to such events. And discussion about COVID was obviously a big part of last week’s virtual RCPA Board meeting.
As of today, here are the RCPA guidelines:

  1. Annual Conference. The plan proceeds with a fully hybrid event. You can attend in-person for part or all of the conference and it will all be available virtually as well. We already have many sponsors and exhibitors — and the program, which is excellent, is near completion. The change, however, is that we are requiring on-site attendees — including speakers, exhibitors, etc. — to be fully vaccinated. It is the most responsible approach at this time, and you will be seeing more about this shortly. If you are not vaccinated, or are just uncomfortable attending in person, the virtual event is available and we hope you actively participate, as many did at our successful virtual conference last year.
  1. Meetings. Similarly, each RCPA division director will be discussing with members whether any upcoming meetings will be in person, hybrid, or virtual. Again, all such meetings will require on-site attendees to be fully vaccinated.
  1. Provider Site Visits. One of the hallmarks of RCPA is that staff historically have spent a great deal of time “on the road” visiting with providers for better understanding programs, services, issues, etc. COVID clearly brought that practice to a halt. Of recent, some of these important visits have been reinstated. Moving forward, this will be based on a case-by-case discussion between the RCPA staff member(s) and the provider organization.

The most current federal and local guidance will be followed regarding mask wearing at all events. Having outlined all of the above, we all know it can change again tomorrow. But given the many questions and comments from members on this issue, we felt it important to document the thinking at this time.

Thank you,

Richard S. Edley, PhD
RCPA President/CEO

Photo by René DeAnda on Unsplash

Today, on the 31st Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), we celebrate the inclusion and access promoted by the landmark civil rights law for disabled Americans [view official White House release]. Below are some facts about the ADA:

  • The Act is now 31 years strong — however, the work for disability inclusion is a long way from being done.
  • RCPA serves the disability community of all ages, from children to the elderly, for services including Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) supports, from early intervention to Substance Use Disorder (SUD) and Mental Health (MH).
  • Supporting consumers requires supporting the community organizations who do the work — it is not enough to just hail the workers as heroes; we need to reinforce that acknowledgement with investments to maintain the level of services needed.
  • The ADA was the start of advocacy, while subsequent work by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) continue to evolve it. Resources in the American Rescue Plan (ARP) should continue the journey.

RCPA submitted comments regarding the PA Department of Human Services spending plan for funding available to home and community-based services (HCBS) through the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, Section 9817 that was due today, July 6, 2021. The document details several overall, cross-system comments for review in addition to specific comments from each RCPA Division; Adult Mental Health, Children’s Services, Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (including Supports Coordination), Drug and Alcohol, Physical Disabilities and Aging (including Brain Injury services) and Pediatric Rehabilitation.

RCPA appreciates the opportunity to provide this feedback on the DHS ARP plan. We look forward to further discussion and stand ready to assist DHS as a key community stakeholder.