The Stepping Stones Early Intervention Program is a private, center-based program for children ages birth to 3 years old and their families. From its inception in 1974, this innovative and unique program has been providing specialized therapeutic techniques, strategies, and guidance tailored especially for children who have Down syndrome. Families from all over north and central New Jersey attend this program and are accepted into a warm, caring, and nurturing environment where they witness their children reaching milestones once thought impossible. The family experience at Stepping Stones is further enhanced by the education and support received from staff and other parents.

Located in Fairfield, NJ, the program is offered 1-4 hours per week. The goal of the program is to maximize growth and development for each child while providing education and support to families that creates a strong foundation. To accomplish the program goals, a comprehensive team of early childhood specialists comprised of teachers, physical, speech, and occupational therapists, social workers and trained volunteers work individually and in small groups with the children and their family. The Stepping Stones Early Intervention team works collaboratively with parents and other family members to assist each child to achieve their highest potential in the following areas of development:

  • Gross motor: sitting, crawling, standing, and walking
  • Fine motor and sensory integration skills: hand/eye coordination, holding a bottle, self-awareness
  • Oral motor skills: chewing and feeding skills, tongue positioning, facial muscle development
  • Speech, language, and communications skills: sounds, imitating, speech, and socializing through language


Parents/family members work one-on-one with their child in a therapist-lead group session and are provided with therapeutic strategies and guidance in all areas of development.

  • 1 hour, once per week
  • No cost to family


Supported by specially-trained volunteers, children participate in a group session led by a highly-qualified special education teacher and therapist while parents/family members meet with our social worker for guidance, education, and support. At the end of each session, a physical, occupational, or speech therapist provides parents/family members with strategies and guidance designed specifically for their child.

  • 2 hours, twice per week
  • Subsidized monthly tuition


Guided by the expertise of our social worker and therapeutic staff, parents/family members collaborate with each other in a caring and supportive environment. The social worker provides training, assistance, information, and knowledge necessary to help prepare parents/family members to be the best advocate for their child. Parents/family members leave our program with a vast amount of knowledge on special education laws and strategies to effectively transition from Early Intervention to Preschool.


Children transition from the Stepping Stones Early Intervention Program to a pre-school setting at the age of 3. The Stepping Stones team provides summative assessments and assistance with the Individualized Education Plan (IEP) to help each child assimilate to their next program. Parents work directly with their school district to advocate for their child to continue onto either The Arc of Essex County’s Stepping Stones School or another setting that meets the child’s needs.

By attending the Stepping Stones program, children and families benefit from the following:

  • Center-based program for children ages birth through three years old
  • Therapeutic/educational support for children who have Down syndrome
  • Oral motor program focused on improving sound production, muscle development for chewing and feeding skills
  • Sensory integration techniques and modifications incorporated into all activities
  • Total Communication TM program (which includes American Sign Language) encourages optimal receptive and expressive language development
  • Multi-sensory approach encourages children to learn through investigation, exploration, and discovery
    Support group for family members