Integrating State of the Art Psychiatric Treatment With Outstanding Academics in a Dynamic School Environment

To learn more, or to refer a student, contact Jennifer Hayes, our Director of Enrollment, at 908-543-0220 Ext 200 or

Parent’s FAQ

Parent's FAQ
Parents, Students and Educators
What They Say

“Though I didn’t know it at the time, CDS meant everything to me. Ultimately, I was the one who made the choice to turn my life around and go down a new path.”
Student, Fort Lee, NJ

“I want to personally thank you for all of your help with this very difficult family. Their son is in great need of treatment and I know both parents are comforted by the high level of care that he will receive at Cornerstone. For them I know that they see the 24/7 hot line as a godsend: Mom said that it’s the first time that she can really sleep at night.”

Case Manager, Essex County, NJ

“Cornerstone meant a lot to me. It taught me how to cope. It has truly made me the person I am today, and I couldn’t be more grateful.”

Student, Union, NJ

Q: Why should I send my child to Cornerstone?

A: Because at Cornerstone, one does not have to compromise but gets it all within The Cornerstone Experience: a cutting edge licensed clinical program, a varied high quality academic program and all the experiences and options that enhance the full school experience rarely available in special education schools such as team sports, school trips, school dances and a fabulous electives program that includes theater, art and music.

Q: Are there any support and educational services available to parents?

A: Parents are a very important part of the Cornerstone equation. We provide an initial “Parent Retreat”, a weekly family support group and “Parents Matter”, an on-going publication series, all with the goal of both providing important information as well as support for the parents of Cornerstone students.  

Q: What if my child is struggling on the weekend or at night? How do I get assistance on what to do?

A: Support and guidance for parents and students, whenever it is needed, is central to the Cornerstone approach. We have our own 24-hour 7-day a week call line to support our students and parents when there are any important questions or struggles outside of school hours. Parents find this availability particularly helpful in managing any difficult moments with their child.

Q: Why happens to my child during the summer, which is sometimes the hardest time of the year for many struggling students?

A: Cornerstone is an all year round school with an active full summer program. Emotional problems do not take the summer off. Cornerstone’s summer program allows therapeutic gains to be maintained and enhanced. Summer attendance supports not just emotional growth but newly acquired academic skills to be practiced. The summer is also filled with fun and exciting activities to make it more enjoyable for the students. The school is closed on Fridays and Thursdays are filled with fun and exciting trips. Our summer excursions include deep sea fishing, glass blowing, amusement park trips, zoos and workshops at The Museum of Art and Design in NYC. Your child will have made friends and they will all be the school as well. So the summer is not quite, but almost like camp.

Q. When my child returns to district,  how does Cornerstone make sure he/she is fully prepared academically?

A. Preparing students academically for their return to their home district begins the moment they enter the school. Our teachers follow the New Jersey Student Learning Standards and the Next Generation Science Standards, and we offer all state required courses in both the middle and high schools. This ensures the middle school students are well prepared for high school and the high school students meet the NJDOE prescribed requirements for graduation.

We utilize tools similar to those implemented in a district classroom such as one-to one Chrome Books, Google classroom and Learning Ally. Our smaller class size, lower-student teacher ratio and individual tutoring afford us the ability to fill in any identified gaps in student learning. Furthermore, our teachers ensure comprehensive instruction of key topics by pacing instruction when needed. During the three month transition period we receive regular reports allowing us to adjust instruction so students are right where they need to be when they return.

Q. How does Cornerstone ensure that a student makes a smooth and successful transition back to district?

A.Once a decision is made that a student is ready to transition back to district, a team of Cornerstone professionals, consisting of the student’s clinician, the Transition Coordinator, the Supervisor of Clinical Services and a member of the School Leadership Team develops an individualized transition plan in coordination with the the student, his/her parents and the district’s representative. A typical transition includes a shared-time school experience where the student attends both Cornerstone and his/her home school. This shared experience usually lasts for at one marking period. During this time, there is ongoing communication and coordination between Cornerstone staff and district’s child study team. Upon completion of a successful transition marking period, depending on the student’s plan, the student is then returned to their home school on a full time basis after a final celebration and goodbye ceremony at Cornerstone.

Q: Cornerstone provides psychiatrists but what if we want to continue with our current private one?

A: If you prefer your child to continue with a private psychiatrist, that is fine. We will work closely with that physician to ensure coordination and continuity of care. Many parents prefer to use Cornerstone’s psychiatrists as they are expert in treating struggling students, can observe the student in the school setting and also participate in weekly treatment team meetings where strategies and techniques are discussed for each child in the school.

Q: Will courses taken at Cornerstone meet college standards?

A: Absolutely. CDS is accredited by Middle States Association, the very same organization that accredits all public schools in NJ. All colleges and universities recognize a Cornerstone Day School diploma nationally and internationally.

Q: I do not live close and the bus ride may be too long for my child. Isn’t that a problem?

A: If your child needed to see a doctor and the best one was an hour away, you would make the trip! This is really no different. It is not uncommon for a student, even one with a problem of school avoidance, to travel a long distance to get to Cornerstone.

Q: What about National Honor Society?

A: Cornerstone Day School has been chartered and has established a Cornerstone Day School Chapter of the National Honor Society.

Q: If I send my child to CDS will she graduate from there and get a diploma?

A: The average length of stay at Cornerstone is about 18-22 months. Most of our students return to their school district and graduate, making the transition to college or to work much easier. Students entering in 11th grade or later, frequently do graduate from Cornerstone. We are fully accredited academically by Middle States, AdvancEd and the National Independent Private School Association and thus students can choose to receive a diploma from their district or from Cornerstone.