History and Mission

In 2002, Schools for Children launched Dearborn STEP (Short-Term Educational Placement) as a 45-day program designed to support students who needed a “time-out” from their public schools. As part of its commitment to best serve its community, Schools for Children surveyed the area’s directors of special education to discover any new needs that they had for innovative programming.


We learned the school districts were looking for a program that would help students excluded from their district schools to continue their academic study while an assessment was done to determine their long-term educational and therapeutic needs. 


The new program was offered a space in the Central School by the town of Arlington. From the start, STEP focused on helping students and their families/guardians turn a challenging time into an opportunity to reassess their situation, redirect their focus and regain the joy of learning. This commitment led to a doubling of the space needed by the program in just a few years. 


STEP has worked with more than 40 school districts and served hundreds of students and families since its founding. The program continues to develop new approaches to teaching and meeting the needs of its students.