Christopher J. Perry
As the chief financial officer (CFO) of First Children Services in Cherry Hill, NJ, Chris guides the financial wellness of a growing multi-dimensional healthcare and educational organization that focuses specifically on providing services for children and youth with unique needs. As an accomplished operations management and finance leader, with over 20 years of experience, primarily in the healthcare field, while the numbers matter, it’s his overarching desire to help people that drives Chris each and every day. “I have kids myself that have their own challenges, so, for me, this is so much more than just a job; it’s personal,” he says.
First Children Services provides children’s behavioral health and special education services in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, with a diverse mission that spans both service arenas. It was precisely this mission that drew Chris to the organization. After an accomplished career with Cooper Health System, he moved to St. Christopher’s Hospital in 2016 specifically to assist a population that is traditionally underserved. While there, his role grew to CFO for both of St. Christopher Pediatric Associates and Hahnemann Physician Practices. Now, as the CFO for First Children, Chris works to ensure the financial strength of the organization as it continues to help and support thousands of people—keeping a keen eye out for risks as well as opportunities, and always with an eye beyond the numbers.
“I saw an organization that needed strong financial leadership, but also an organization that had a real dedication to the people and children they serve and had a clear mission of making the lives of these kids better. It is incredibly rewarding to be able to help First Children fulfill this mission every single day,” Chris shares.
First Children’s facilities and services focus on children with a variety of developmental and behavioral health challenges, including a private school for children with disabilities where they educate students from pre-K through high school who have multiple co-occurring disabilities. The kids served have multiple disabilities including those who are medically fragile, developmentally, intellectually, or otherwise physically disabled, deaf or hard of hearing, and/or visually impaired. Through its Transitions Program, the organization serves students in grades 6-12, who are unable to participate due to school refusal. This program is a small group, center-based, home instruction program for students who have anxiety, depression, or other mental health challenges. Its focus is to assist them to return to a regular school life where they are attentive and active in a normal setting. On the behavioral health services side, First Children offers comprehensive support to clients with autism, including early screening and diagnosis, ABA therapy, behavioral parent training and family support, individual and group counseling, and outreach, training, and school consultation. Company clinicians provide insurance-based and school district-based behavioral and mental health services.
While he manages the enormous number of functions required to ensure the financial health of an organization with so many moving parts, Chris is mindful of the profound responsibility that he holds as the steward of its fiscal strength—and the ultimate impact of his learned and ever-watchful eye. “Serving this population of kids that have a need for services beyond just the day-to-day is important to me. This is why I’ve served in the position in health care that I have over the years, because of my desire to help these people, and this is why I joined First Children—to assist a population that is traditionally underserved,” Chris says. “I have a job that I absolutely love.”
Chris holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Centenary University and a leadership certificate from The Wharton School of Business.
Christopher J. Perry
CFO — First Children Services