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Acorn Health: Investing in children through effective autism treatment

The investment: In 2021, we acquired a majority stake in Acorn Health, which treats children with autism via a network of more than 60 clinics across seven U.S. states.

More families than ever before are living with a child’s autism diagnosis. One out of every 44 American children has been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, up from one in 150 just 15 years ago. It’s unclear why the condition is more prevalent, although experts say enhanced diagnostic tools and increased awareness are key factors. With the prevalence of ASD increasing, the CDC has called for better infrastructure to identify, treat and support children living with autism. That’s what attracted us to Acorn Health.

Acorn Health provides early and intensive support to children living with autism. Its ultimate goal is to help them lead more meaningful and independent lives. The foundation of its therapy is Applied Behavioral Analysis, a method endorsed by the U.S. Surgeon General and several autism research and advocacy groups. ABA sets clear, measurable goals for modifying behaviour, and can be tailored to the individual. By tracking a child’s progress and reinforcing positive change, ABA helps children with autism do everything from sleep better to play better.

We chose to become long-term investors in Acorn Health because it can help address many of the challenges facing autism treatment in the U.S. today. More than 90% of the children living with ASD lack access to clinical care, in part because there is a shortage of trained clinicians, and waitlists for therapy are long. With all 50 U.S. states mandating insurance coverage for ABA, we believe Acorn is well positioned to expand in a highly fragmented industry and to meet the growing demand for quality, evidence-based autism therapy. We hope to leverage our past experience in owning and managing other clinical practices in sectors ranging from dentistry to veterinary care. And we are proud to work with Acorn’s woman-led management team, including founder Vicki Kroviak.

As the mother of a child with special needs, Kroviak feels a personal connection to this mission. Her background building a care model for eating disorders gives her a unique perspective. With Kroviak as an investment partner, we are building out Acorn Health’s clinical infrastructure, technology and talent pool. The investment is an important addition to our growing global healthcare platform, which also includes laboratory testing in New Zealand and online healthcare in Europe.

“OTPP was the right partner to take Acorn to its next stage of growth. They have a wonderful and deserved reputation for working well with founder-led management teams. But what really appealed to us was their desire to invest to really build and grow a company for the long haul. We have a real need to fill and OTPP will help us deliver.”

Vicki Kroviak, Founder and CEO
Acorn Health