How do I know if Stepping Stones is the right school for my child?
As a parent of a child with special needs, you are the best advocate for your child. If you feel that your child’s needs are not being met at his/her current program, Stepping Stones might be the right option for your child. As a DOE approved private school for students with disabilities, Stepping Stones is able to offer highly specialized educational and therapeutic programming for children with Down syndrome and other cognitive disabilities. Our unique programs are highly individualized to accommodate children at all levels, while integrating students into a community of their peers. We encourage parents to visit our program, ask a lot of questions, observe, and evaluate your options.
How do I apply for my child to come to Stepping Stones?
You can reach out to your case manager in your district and let them know you want to consider an out-of-district school placement for your child. The case manager typically arranges for you to come tour Stepping Stones with him/her and decide if Stepping Stones is the most appropriate school placement for your child.
Can I come visit
Absolutely! To visit Stepping Stones please call our office at 862-210-8781 to schedule a tour.
How do I ask my district if they will pay the tuition to send my child to Stepping Stones?
You can reach out to your case manager in your district and let them know you want to consider an out-of-district school placement for your child. We do recommend that you visit the in-district program so that you have all the information you need to make the best school choice for your child.
You know your child best and are the best advocate for your child’s school placement.
What if my child study team/school district will not agree to pay the tuition to send my child to Stepping Stones?
If your child study team does not agree to send your child to an out-of-district placement, and you have advocated your concerns up through the chain of command in your school district to no avail, you do have the right to participate in mediation and a due process hearing.
Click here to view your parental rights in New Jersey.
If my district agrees to pay the tuition, how does my child get to Stepping Stones?
Your home district will arrange for transportation from your home to Stepping Stones. Your case manager will provide you with the transportation company information.
Do I need to live in a certain location to be able to send my child to Stepping Stones?
No, Stepping Stones accepts students from every county in New Jersey.
What happens when my child turns 10 and cannot attend Stepping Stones any longer?
Stepping Stones ensures a smooth transition to your child’s next school placement. We will help you to consider what the next best school will be, whether it is back to your district, or on to another out-of-district placement. Our Social Worker will provide you with information about how to transition your child, and we will work with the new school program to ensure they have all the information they need to successfully work with your child once they leave Stepping Stones.
What if I want my child to return to a school in our district before they are 10 years old?
Stepping Stones understands that some children are ready to leave our program before the age of 10. We are in contact with you frequently during the school year, and have annual Individualized Education Plan meetings with you and your case manager. If you feel that your child is ready to return to a district program, we encourage you to speak with our principal so we can discuss all options available.
What services will my child get while at Stepping Stones?
Stepping Stones offers comprehensive educational programming for children with cognitive disabilities, including Down syndrome. Speech, Occupational, and Physical therapies are embedded in your child’s school day. All of our students receive both individual and group therapies.
Stepping Stones also provides a specialized music program; yoga program; reading and math program; field trips; and community involvement with a local day care and visits to the Roseland public library.
Is Stepping Stones a full day program for preschool?
Yes. Our program serves children ages 3 – 10 and the school day operates from 8:50am -2:40pm for our 180 day September –June program; and 8:30 am – 1:30 pm for our 30 day summer session.
Helpful Resources for Children with Special Needs
The Arc of Essex County: 973-535-1181; www.arcessex.org
The Arc of New Jersey: 1-732-246-2625; www.arcnj.org
The Arc of Essex County’s Down syndrome website: www.downsyndromeconnect.org
Department of Children and Families/PerformCare – 1-877-652-7624: www.performcarenj.org
Mom2Mom helpline for parents of Special Needs Children/24 hour parent support: http://ubhc.rutgers.edu/mom2mom/index.htm
Support for Siblings
New Jersey Support
The Complete IEP Guide How to Advocate for your Special Ed Child by Lawrence M. Siegel
Wrightslaw: From Emotions to Advocacy by Pam and Pete Wright (www.wrightslaw.com)
New Jersey Department of Education, Special Education Page www.state.nj.us/nj/education/specialed
Private School Association for Students with Disabilities in New Jersey www.asah.org
New Jersey State Approved Schools list (https://homeroom5.doe.state.nj.us/directory)
New Jersey Coalition for Inclusive Education www.njcie.org
SPAN (Statewide Parent Advocacy Network) www.spanadvocacy.org
ACNJ (Association for Children of New Jersey) www.acnj.org
Disability Rights New Jersey (formerly New Jersey Protection and Advocacy) www.drnj.org
Books for Children:
- We’ll Paint the Octopus Red by Stephanie Stuve-Bodeen
- My Friend Isabelle by Eliza Woloson
Books for Parents:
- GIFTS: Mothers Reflect on How Children with Down Syndrome Enrich Their Lives Edited by Kathryn Lynard Super
- Babies with Down Syndrome – A New Parents Guide by Karen Stray-Gundersen
- The Read-Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease
- You Will Dream New Dreams Inspiring Personal Stories by Parents of Children With Disabilities by Stanley D, Kleinm PH.D and Kim Schive
- Expecting Adam: A True Story of Birth, Rebirth, and Everday Magic by Martha Beck
- Choosing Naia: A Family’s Journey by Mitchell Zuckoff
Woodbine House books (www.woodbinehouse.com)
Down Syndrome Medical Clinics:
- The Judy Center at Hackensack University Medical Center www.hackensackumc.org
- Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia www.chop.edu
- DDC (Developmental Disabilities Clinic) at Morristown Memorial Hospital 973-971-4095
- DDC at Overlook Hospital 908-598-6655
- Kennedy Krieger Institute, Baltimore MD www.kennedykrieger.org
- Children’s Specialized Hospital www.childrens-specialized.org
Breastfeeding for Children with Down Syndrome:
- La Leche League International www.llli.org
THE CANDLE LIGHTERS
The Candle Lighters is a non-profit established in 1974 by a group of concerned parents, relatives, and friends who wanted to assist in the growth and well-being of individuals with developmental disabilities and their families in our community. The role of the Candle Lighters is to raise funds for unfunded and underfunded programs of The Arc of Essex County that benefit children and adults with developmental disabilities in Essex and surrounding counties. Programs supported by The Candle Lighters include: The Stepping Stones Early Intervention Program, Camp Hope, and Recreation.
Over the past decade, many of the fee-for-service programs provided by The Arc of Essex County have periodically been in financial jeopardy. Thanks to the generous support of the Candle Lighters, the cost charged to families for these programs continues to be significantly reduced.
For more information please visit: