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“Mental health is a critical component of children’s learning and general health. Fostering the social and emotional health in children as a part of healthy child development must therefore be a national priority.

Research shows that brain development and experience in early childhood may set the course for many future behavior patterns.”

Surgeon General’s Report 2003

The Autzien Children’s Center provides a high-quality and easily accessible center for the evaluation and treatment of children facing challenges that may impede their development into fully-functional adults. These challenges can include psychological, educational, neurological, environmental and/or social problems. The Aufzien Children’s Center integrates all these services under one roof, comprehensively addressing the child as a whole.

Sample Parenting Basics

Positive Discipline


  • Praise behavior you like! Be specific, descriptive, enthusiastic and affectionate. Catch your child being good!
  • Ignore minor misbehavior. Ignoring minor misbehavior (that isn’t dangerous) can effectively extinguish that behavior.
  • Redirect and distract when your child begins to misbehave.
  • Be clear about directions. Give commands that are statements, not questions (and use the word please!)
  • Stay calm and cool so you don’t unintentionally reinforce behaviors by becoming overly emotional in response to them.
  • Model good behavior. Children learn by copying, so always ask yourself what you are teaching your child by your own behavior.



  • Spank or hit. This escalates bad behavior, models aggression, and instills fear in your child.
  • Attend to negative behavior by reprimanding and lecturing — it doesn’t work.
  • Repeat a command multiple times. It loses its power and teaches your child that he/she doesn’t have to listen the first time.

Remember, the trick is to catch good child behavior and to let him or her know how much you like it! Positive discipline makes a child feel safe and happy because it teaches what to expect and what is expected. Positive discipline builds a relationship based on respect and love.

TIPS for Parents involved in Separation/Divorce

Separation/Divorce is never easy for a family. Children suffer even more when a separation/divorce becomes high conflict (defined below). This puts the child in what could be a traumatizing loyalty bind.

Here are some things parents can do to prevent this situation from occurring.

Parents can:

1. STRIVE to avoid disparaging statements about ex in front of child even if you feel your ex deserves them! You can still be supportive of the child’s feelings without bad mouthing your ex. For example, “I know it’s so disappointing and upsetting that Mommy canceled at the last minute,” will be a more helpful statement for your child than, “I can’t believe she did that to you! She is so inconsiderate, only thinking of herself, as usual!”

2. RESIST the urge if you have it, to make your child feel guilty or like they are making a mistake if they love or believe in your ex. Parents can do this overtly or even with subtle messages disguised as helpful ones, e.g., “Are you SURE you feel ready to visit your father?” Remember that research shows that the lack of the parental relationship is more devastating for a child over time than one with flaws. (The exceptions being safety considerations due to proven neglect/abuse.)

3. BE consistent and predictable in parenting/visitation time to the best of your ability. A separation makes a child’s world seem vulnerable. Knowing when and where he/she can see parents is key.

4. FACILITATE open non-blaming communication regarding child related issues with your ex whenever possible with a focus on problem solving.

5. AVOID being hard on yourself if at times you are not always able to be successful at achieving the four tips above. Your children will recognize overall patterns and this will help you avoid high conflict divorce and the accompanying loyalty binds.

High conflict divorce key features:

  1. Parents have no, limited or ineffective communication (which can contribute to distorted allegations and misunderstandings).
  2. Parents may sabotage the child’s relationship with the other parent
  3. Caregivers can become manipulative with professionals to advance their cause e.g., custody, visitation, upcoming court hearing, etc.
  4. There may be frequent crises.
  5. There is a high degree of anger and distrust
  6. There can be allegations of abuse, drawn out court actions, restraining orders, no-contact orders, etc.

*Loyalty bind: Child feels fearful of losing the support/love of one parent if they feel or show any connection to the other parent.

Compiled from information gathered from:
How Children Cope with High Conflict Divorce: How They are Harmed and What Parents Can Do by Bob Livingstone: Retrieved 2019
Use of Play Therapy in Cases of High Conflict Divorce: Workshop Oct. 2018 APT Conference Kim Merendino, PhD, Suvi Miller, LCSW
Children of High Conflict Divorce Face Many Challenges: William Bennet Psychiatric Times, Oct, 2015
High Conflict Divorce: JR Johnston 1994
Legacy of Research by Judith Wallerstein, PhD 1985-2013
Observations of Writer’s Anne Marie M Ramos’ LCSW RPT-S 35+ years’ experience working with families and children whose parents are separated/divorced, many of whom are characterized by high conflict.
Social Skills Groups

Girls Social Skills Group starting soon!

Details to come

School-Based Services

JFS therapists work closely with local schools to share their expertise in a wide variety of areas designed to enhance your child’s educational experience.

On-site consultation and classroom observation

Magen Yeladim, a nationally recognized school based program for children in pre-school through 4th grade teaches children the basics of personal safety. JFS can come to any school and deliver this program to students, faculty and parents. The program reinforces critical child protection principles for faculty and school administrators.

Mitzvos and Middos (M&M) – On-site year-long program teaching social skills to students in pre-school through 3rd grade. This program incorporates classroom and non-classroom opportunities to reinforce positive social skills

Psychiatric Services

Psychiatric Consultation

Our advanced practice psychiatric nurse is available for face-to-face consultation to assess the need for medication and develop a diagnosis in cases where there are questions. This service is limited to therapy clients at JFS.

Medication Management

Ongoing meetings with advanced practice psychiatric nurse to review medication effects and coordinate with regular treatment. This service is limited to therapy clients at JFS.

Stanley Joel Feld Special Needs Program

Special Needs Parent Support

Our therapists have experience working with families of children with special needs and provide an array of support services:

  • Family counseling – to address grief, discussed and help with stress management.
  • Project Leah respite program – provides weekly in-house respite for families of children with disabilities.

Parent Resource Center & Rutie Peikes Library

A library and resource information for parents of children with special needs.

The Yosef Glotzer Fund

Established by the family in memory of their Down’s Syndrome child, this fund supplements special services that are not covered by insurance. By application only.

Special Needs Advisory Council

This group of parents and professionals meets bi-monthly to plan programs and share resource information.


in collaboration with Ohel, this monthly recreation based support group is for siblings of special needs children.

Contact Lauren Halpern-Klahr for information at 973-777-7638 ext. 626 or

Children’s Therapeutic Modalities

JFS values the input and participation of the parent in every stage of the child’s healing process. Some of the modalities that parents and child may participate in include: Directive Play Therapy, Coping skills Training, Anger Management, Psychoeducation, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Mindfulness, Social Skills Training, Family therapy, Trauma Informed Therapy.

Some children benefit from individual therapy as a part of their healing plan and these modalities could include Child Centered Play Therapy, Sand Tray and Art Therapy.

Research has shown that when a parent training component is a part of the healing process for the child the therapy is more effective. We therefore provide parents with specialized training on how to help their child reduce symptoms of defiance, impassivity, aggression, anxiety and other problems in home and school.

We believe in the concept of – it takes a village to raise a child – and will work with teachers and other helping professionals in the child’s life to help develop a plan for success!

P.A.L.S.- Peace, A Learned Solution

Children ages 3 – 12, living in Passaic County, who have been exposed to domestic violence, and the non-offending parent are able to receive intensive therapeutic services at P.A.L.S. This collaborative program between JFS children’s services and the Passaic County Women’s Center is designed to reduce the effects of trauma. There is no cost to the family for any service because the program is fully funded through the support of the New Jersey Department of Child Protection and Permanency.

Bi-lingual Services Available
Art Therapy
Dance Therapy
Music Therapy
Recreational Therapy
Family Therapy
Case Management
Parenting Program
Psychiatric Evaluation and medication management
Transportation provided