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.

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.

Absolutely! To visit Stepping Stones please call our office at 862-210-8781 to schedule a tour.

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.

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.

Your home district will arrange for transportation from your home to Stepping Stones. Your case manager will provide you with the transportation company information.

No, Stepping Stones accepts students from every county in New Jersey.

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.

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.

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.

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 – 12:30 pm for our 30-day summer session.


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

The Sibling Support Project www.siblingsupport.org

Family Resource Associates www.frainc.org (check out their great newsletters for siblings)

The Arc of The United States www.thearc.org

The National Down Syndrome Society www.ndss.org

The National Down Syndrome Congress www.ndsccenter.org

Down Syndrome Education International www.dseinternational.org

The Down Syndrome Research and Treatment Foundation www.dsrtf.org

The Arc of New Jersey www.arcnj.org

The Arc of Essex County Parent Support Group –973-535-1181 ext. 1223

Network 21 (Central New Jersey) www.dsnetwork21.com

Billy’s Buddies (Bergen County) www.wyckoffymca.org

Family Resource Associates (Shrewsbury) www.frainc.org

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)

The Toys ‘R Us Differently-Abled Toy Guide

Beyond Play (www.beyondplay.com)

Abilitations (https://store.schoolspecialty.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:

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: