Joseph J. Hess, Jr.
Joe Hess, Jr. is president and co-founder of First Children Services. Joe has spent over thirty years managing for-profit and not-for-profit provider organizations. Prior to starting Mountain Eagle Group in 2004, Joe was CFO, COO, and then President of a national behavioral health provider serving children and adults with a wide range of severe disabilities. In the 1980s, Joe was CFO at Holy Redeemer Health System and oversaw all of their home care and related ancillary services. Joe taught accounting in the MBA Program at LaSalle University and prior to that, taught at Temple University and Holy Family College.
Joe has been instrumental in developing a number of innovative changes in programs and operations over his years in the field, ranging from helping to create a one-of-a-kind neurobehavioral unit for children in severe behavioral crisis to using tax-favored financial instruments to fund the development of new facilities for provider organizations. As a consultant, Joe’s clients have ranged from large public organizations like the Virginia Department of Rehabilitation to smaller, community-based non-profits providing vital services to people with special needs.
In 2009, Joe acquired a school for children with complex medical, intellectual, and behavioral conditions in Fanwood, N.J. and named it First Children. In 2011 with his son, Matthew Hess, he founded First Children Learning Services to provide a wide range of services to children in their own homes and schools. In 2013 Joe acquired Regional Enrichment and Learning Centers and made that a part of the First Children Family of Services.
Over his career, Joe has been active in a number of provider and professional organizations, has published in professional journals, and has made numerous presentations to professional groups.
Matthew J. Hess
Chief Executive Officer
Matthew is the chief executive officer of First Children Services, responsible for operations, business development, financial management and human resources for the organization. Before transitioning to his current role in 2017, Matt had been the chief operating officer and vice president of operations since the company’s inception in 2009. Under his leadership, First Children has grown from a single educational program serving 65 children to become a diversified behavioral health and special education organization serving over 1000 children through 17 counties of New Jersey. Matt is a strong advocate of quality assurance and quality improvement throughout the company, ensuring a continued focus on driving positive outcomes for children, families and the payer community.
Before joining First Children, Matt had various entrepreneurial pursuits in the entertainment and manufacturing industries. He advises several technology, educational, and healthcare startups in the tri-state area. Matt studied Economics at Temple University and holds a Pennsylvania Real Estate license since 2009.
Howard Savin, Phd
Chief Clinical Advisor
Dr. Howard Savin provides oversight of treatment models and clinical services along with organization-wide quality improvement systems for First Children Services. Dr. Savin has a profound understanding of the complex needs of children with behavioral health challenges. He has over 40 years of experience working in the behavioral health care field. Prior to joining First Children Services, Dr. Savin served as the senior vice president at Beacon Health Options where he led product development and quality oversight of corporate autism services. Before its acquisition by Beacon, Dr. Savin founded Autism Services Group, LLC, a managed behavioral health care organization specializing in the management of autism insurance benefits on behalf of large health plans and served as CEO as a division of Beacon Health Strategies for four years. Prior to ASG and Beacon, Dr. Savin served as senior vice president, clinical affairs and director of research and training for a national behavioral health provider for nearly ten years.
Dr. Savin is a licensed psychologist in Pennsylvania, and he was formerly a Pennsylvania certified school psychologist and a Licensed Psychologist in Colorado. Dr. Savin holds a Doctorate of Philosophy in Counseling Psychology from the University of Georgia and a Master of Science in General-Theoretical Psychology from the University of Bridgeport. He earned his Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of Vermont. Over his career, Dr. Savin has been active in a number of provider and professional organizations, has authored a variety of professional publications, and currently serves as an editor for Autism Spectrum News. Dr. Savin has also given numerous presentations on clinical outcomes and the quality and accountability of behavioral healthcare services.
Chief Financial Officer
Tara Short is the Chief Financial Officer for First Children Services. At the forefront of financial leadership, Tara is an operationally driven CFO and will be responsible for leading all financial functions of the organization, while supporting the achievement of financial goals and objectives. As an analytical leader, Tara loves to create relationships to drive business growth through financial discipline, creativity, and teamwork. Prior to joining the First Children team, Tara served as the Chief Financial Officer for the Montgomery County Housing Authority in Pennsylvania.
Tara received her Bachelor of Science in Accounting from Post University as well as a Master of Science in Accountancy from Boise State University.