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

Getting Started

Getting Started
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

Getting started begins at home or at the Pathways suite with the schedule that works best

There are a number of roads for students to enter Pathways at Cornerstone Day School. Initial screenings typically take place at Cornerstone. However, sometimes, prospective Pathways students are not emotionally prepared to visit the school. To best help them, Pathways leadership may conduct the initial screening at the student’s home to complete the process but more importantly, begin helping the student feel comfortable and ready to attend Pathways.

Upon arrival for the initial visit at Cornerstone, the prospective student, his/her parents/guardian and district representative meet with the top administrators of the school: Executive Director, Director of Clinical Services, School Principal, and the Supervisor of Pathways. The process includes a clinical assessment, interview of the family and student, an orientation of the clinical and academic services provided, and a tour of Pathways and the entire school. Once completed, typically a decision is then made determining student acceptance. If so desired, a prospective student is welcome to visit for a day prior to accepting the school’s offer. The purpose of the intake process is for all parties involved to get acquainted and determine if Cornerstone, in general, and Pathways, in particular, is the best placement for the student.

Students struggling with school avoidance can start either in Pathways or in the mainstream setting, whatever best meets the student’s needs.

Program Flexibility

During the initial stages of enrollment, as well as throughout the student’s stay, Pathways is extremely flexible to meet the needs of each student. Many students have missed a significant number of school days before coming to Pathways. It is unrealistic to think that they will just start regularly attending a full school day. Thus, we frequently create adjusted schedules so that students can slowly acclimate to attending on a timeline that works for them.

The schedule can be adjusted in many ways, including the length of the day, the intensity of the work, learning methods employed and the type of class setting (one-to-one with a teacher or in a setting with peers). Regardless of the selections, the goal is always the same: finding the path that allows students to gain comfort and relaxation attending a school setting.

Tuition and Naples Funding

For nearly all students, tuition is paid by the student’s home school district, which is authorized through a section of the NJ educational law called the Naples Act (NJ18A:46-14) and covers all Cornerstone services, including transportation.

This 30-year-old act broadens the scope of private schools where special needs students could be placed, thus allowing for a better fit between the child and the school and increasing the likelihood of a successful outcome.

Placements under the Naples Act have been used throughout New Jersey to fund students’ education since 1989 and are commonplace and done every year by many districts in New Jersey. Since Cornerstone opened in 2006, over 125 school districts in New Jersey have placed students through the use of the Naples Act.