What do you do for students who are unable to attend or participate in school due to anxiety and/or depression? First Children Services has a solution with our Transitions Program, an educational program for students with school refusal due to anxiety and/or depression in grades 5-12. 

Students with school refusal due to underlying anxiety disorders, depression, fears, bullying, social skills challenges, and/or family related difficulties present a considerable challenge for school personnel and families.  Home instruction may provide an immediate educational solution, but it will only mask the problem and can socially isolate the child leading to further issues.  Time is of the essence for these students as the longer a child remains out of school, the more difficult it becomes for the child to return to school. 

First Children’s Transitions Program offers a solution that allows students with school refusal to comfortably return to a classroom setting with the necessary supports to sustain attendance throughout the school day.   The goals of the Transitions Program are to help students with anxiety and/or depression, who are not attending or thriving in a typical school setting, to return to a classroom setting, learn coping skills, and ultimately transition back to school.  As students progress through the program, our professional staff will assist students, their families, and school district staff with a re-entry plan to transition them back to school.

The Transitions Program offers:

  • Full day programming 
  • Small class size
  • A therapeutic environment
  • Individual and group counseling 
  • Broad range of electives
  • Honors level courses
  • Diverse world language courses
  • Behavior analyst consultation
  • Related services-on an individual basis
  • Extended school year


The Transitions Program model was designed to meet the needs of sending school districts…

First Children Services is a New Jersey Department of Education Approved Clinic and Agency  for counseling and home instruction under our Regional Enrichment and Learning (REAL) Center division.  Our Transitions Program teachers are New Jersey Department of Education certified and the curriculum follows the New Jersey Student Learning Standards.  Students do not need an IEP or 504  to attend the Transitions Program.  Transportation to and from the program is the responsibility of the school district or family.


Transitions Program  Counseling Services

The Transitions Program counseling services are provided by our experienced social workers who work closely with each student’s outside treatment provider and family to ensure a smooth continuity of care.  Counseling services include, but are not limited to, Mindfulness, cognitive behavioral therapy, social skills,  and family support.

Transitions Program Locations:

South Jersey Location

1256 Marlkress Road

Cherry Hill, NJ 08003


Central Jersey Location

569 Abbington Drive

East Windsor, NJ 08520


For more information on the Transitions Program, please contact Sonia Cohen at scohen@firstchildrenservices.com or (856) 888-1097 Ext. 304.


First Children Services also offers various home instruction programs for students who are not able to attend the Transitions Program.

Transitions Program in the News!


12 ways to help kids cope with school anxiety

Published 4:27 p.m. ET Aug. 8, 2017 by Candy Grande, For the Courier-Post

The first day of school is approaching and Melissa Langford knows some families are dreading its arrival. Not because warm summer days filled with swimming and barbecues are dwindling, but because school-related anxieties begin to surface – and she can empathize.

Langford’s son, Tim, 15, and getting ready to enter ninth grade, has been struggling with his school fears since third grade.

“It is very difficult,” says Langford, director of transitional educational services at First Children Services in Cherry Hill. “My husband and I would take Tim to elementary school kicking and screaming. It was like trying to pry a frog off the wall just to get him out of the house. And then once he got to school, he would start throwing up. I’d feel like a bad parent and I was only trying to do what was best for him.”

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Transitions Academy Makes A Difference For Students Suffering From Anxiety DisordersSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

 By Stephanie Stahl CBS Philly news reported by Stephanie Stahl

“It’s a unique kind of school in New Jersey, that’s designed specifically to help students with anxiety disorders. For students with mental health issues school can be a nightmare, every day is a struggle, and it causes an alarming amount of absenteeism” reports Stephanie Stahl of CBS Philly news.  Stephanie spent the day visiting Transitions Program former student, Simon Michel, and his family and then First Children’s Transitions Program where she got to know our program for students for with anxiety challenges and school refusal.  After meeting with our staff and students, Stephanie was able to create a brief news piece that told the story of a small school in Cherry Hill that has transformed the lives of  many local students who suffer from anxiety that prevented them  from attending their public schools.  Please take a moment to view our story as told by Stephanie Stahl, Channel 3 CBS new reporter.

View News Clip


Education alchemy: Turning school from feared to favorite place 

Updated: APRIL 24, 2016 — 11:59 PM EDT by Rita Giordano, Staff Writer, Philadelphia Inquirer

With her friendly smile, firm handshake, and stylishly oversize glasses, it’s hard to imagine Eva Haydu, 17, not fitting in, let alone feeling unbearably sad.

Yet not long ago, that was so. She didn’t want to go to school. She gave up running track; she was too stressed, too easily tired. She was taken to a hospital because she felt like hurting herself.

Some people at Gateway Regional High School “didn’t understand how it feels to have anxiety,” the junior said. “I was depressed.”

But then the Westville girl learned about Transitions Academy, a small program in Cherry Hill that works with young people such as Haydu. Finally her problem was given a name:

“School refusal.”

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