Merger and Re-Education

Given the similarity of the Protestant Home for Children and the Pittsburgh and Allegheny Home for the Friendless, it was not surprising that a merger discussed in the 1930s eventually lead to a complete merger in 1969. Between the two institutions, more than 16,000 children had been served since their incorporations in the 1800s.

At the time of the merger, a study carried out under the direction of Nicholas Hobbs, Ph.D., then Provost of Vanderbilt University, led the Board of Directors to adopt the Re-Education Philosophy as the model for services and treatment for troubled children. This treatment philosophy is still used today.

A few years after the merger and this study, the combined program was named Pressley Ridge School to capture the historic roots of the two institutions and the adoption of a Re-Education approach to the treatment.

Treatment Foster Care – a National Model

Over the next twenty years, the school’s diversity of services grew tremendously along with its geographical reach. The Ohiopyle program in Pennsylvania’s Laurel Mountains was developed; the program was then replicated in West Virginia as Laurel Park, which opened in 1983.

The development of our therapeutic foster-care model served as a catalyst for expansion beyond Pennsylvania – throughout West Virginia, Maryland, and Ohio. During the 1980s, this model also brought national recognition. It was developed after a study conducted with the Allegheny County Children and Youth Services.

By the end of the decade, the model program was recognized as a national model by the National Institute of Mental Health. Today, therapeutic foster care programs exist in every United States state and Canadian province.

Helping families live healthy, engaged lives in their communities.

In 1985, Pressley Ridge School was renamed The Pressley Ridge Schools to reflect our diverse programs and locations. The decision to maintain “schools” in our identity was based on the Re-Education treatment philosophy, where “school” is defined as a community of teachers and those who are taught to gain skills or knowledge. In this sense all of Pressley Ridge’s programs are “schools” for children and families, even those programs that have no classrooms.

​By the late 1990s, Pressley Ridge was providing services to more than 1,500 children and their families each day in Delaware, Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. The agency had also developed an evaluation system that initiated a national movement for mandating outcomes for children’s services. In 1996, Pressley Ridge and the Office of Child Development at the University of Pittsburgh established the Pittsburgh International Children and Family Institute. PICFI handled the growing requests for consultation and training from the international community. During 1998-1999, Pressley Ridge worked with the University of Lusofona in Lisbon, Portugal, to replicate PICFI in Europe.

The 2000s brought additional expansion into communities in Virginia, central Pennsylvania, as well as southern Maryland.  Western Pennsylvania programs also expanded their footprint in community-based services, including family preservation, crisis prevention and community integration efforts for adults with intellectual disabilities.

Pressley Ridge Today

In 2019, Pressley Ridge opened the state-of-the-art facility for the School for Autism and the School for the Deaf to better serve our students with unique needs and challenges.  We continue to provide our world-class services, including Private Academic Schools, Treatment Foster Care, Residential Treatment, and Community-Based programs in six states.