Frequently Asked Questions

If you’re a bit shy to ask us some questions, explore our list of frequently asked questions and let us put your mind at ease.
The Victorian Government provides funding to support children to access a kindergarten program in the year before they start school. The funding is a contribution towards meeting the cost of the kindergarten program and is based on the number of children enrolled in the program at Starfish Early Learning Centre. Each child is eligible to attend only one funded kindergarten for a single year.
Kindergarten is a more formal educational establishment with well-trained teachers, whereas childcare, while it may offer educational activities, does not have a formal learning procedure.
No, kindergarten attendance is not compulsory.
Your child is eligible for a funded year of kindergarten if they are four by 30 April of that year. The Victorian government provides funding for all eligible children to access a kindergarten program in the year before school entry.

Places are limited to the room capacity of each centre. Please contact your respective Centre Director for availability information.

Starfish centres are open Monday to Friday, 7am to 6pm.
We have not taken our educational programming online. We concentrate on building relationships with your children and providing documentation that makes visible your children’s learning through daily journals, weekly newsletters and individual children’s portfolios. All photos taken of your child throughout the year are saved onto a CD for you to take home at the end of the year.
Every child is different, and we handle all situations differently depending on the child’s needs, also taking into account parents’ requests wherever possible. Crying is a normal expression for children, as they are communicating their discomfort. We never discourage crying, but help the child find ways to cope with this change in their day.
Our orientation process includes two one-hour play sessions (with the possibility for more if required to ensure the child’s comfort) to get your child used to their new environment. The main aim during this transition period is for the educators to get to know the children, building trusting relationships with each individual so they feel comfortable, safe and secure. Some children may need a hug (from a trusted educator or a favourite toy), some children may want to hold an educator’s hand, while others just want some space, but always with an educator within proximity. As part of our orientation process, we work with the family and ensure that if children have a favourite toy or other item they will have access to it when needed.
We encourage children to eat what we have served, however, we never force children to eat. If they really don’t like what we’ve served, we can offer them something else that they would prefer. If you have a particularly fussy child, it would be helpful to let the educators know what they like to eat at home so we can try to accommodate that way – this can be documented on your enrolment form or via email. If the educators are concerned about your child’s health in terms of what they are/aren’t eating or drinking, they will give you a call to let you know. Because we have children with life threatening allergies and other sensitivities to certain foods, we must ensure we have complete control over the food that the children have access to. Therefore we ask that no food be brought into the centre.
We provide an educational program for every single child in our centres – with the same format used for all age groups, from babies through to Kindergarten. Our educators review their program fortnightly, evaluating what the children have learnt and making modifications as needed. Each room has a Daily Learning Journal, which is a series of photos from the day and a short blurb about what the children have done and learnt that day. This document is used by the lead educators during their planning time to ensure the ongoing program is based on the children’s current skills, developmental level, culture and curiosities, and what the educators believe would benefit the children. At the end of each week, the Centre Director will email a summary of these Daily Journals called the Weekly Wrap up/Roundup, to all our families. This gives families the opportunity to see a snapshot of the learning that has occurred across the service. Each child will have an individual portfolio for the year – which is a collection of photos, observations and group documentation. This is available for families to view during the year, and theirs to take home at the end of the year. It is a way for educators and families to document children’s progress throughout the year and makes a lovely keepsake at the end of the year.
We understand that there are many families who would like their children to begin reading and writing before they begin school, but this can be detrimental to the children who are not ready to do these things. We do guide children who are ready and interested in reading and writing, but we don’t have worksheets for children to complete. Our literacy and numeracy programs are embedded in every room, within all educational experiences provided.
Our recruitment process focuses on finding educators who have similar values and attitudes to ensure the best possible care and culture at Starfish. We encourage educators to constantly work to further their learning through traineeships and professional learning opportunities.
Our primary method of communication is through verbal discussions – at drop-off and pick-up times, over the phone and especially during the orientation process. We have many multilingual educators, so families with English as a second language can get accurate information when needed. We email regular updates, as well as our weekly wrap-up newsletters, and have a closed, private Facebook group for each centre on which the Directors post special events and share the learning that is occurring at their service. Each room also has a Daily Routine board, which documents the meals the children have eaten that day, whether they’ve slept (and for how long) and for the younger children, how much milk they’ve drunk.
Our educators ensure that hygiene is maintained within the rooms and common areas, and also assist the children to maintain their personal hygiene. Surfaces are wiped during the day, with tables and highchairs disinfected before being used at mealtimes. For the younger rooms where children often put toys in their mouths, we rotate toys so they can be regularly washed and disinfected. We provide linen for the children to use at sleep/rest times which is washed between uses (so children do not share linen). Floors are swept/vacuumed and mopped daily (twice daily wherever possible) and bathrooms are cleaned, disinfected and mopped twice daily. Children and educators have constant access to hand soap, sanitiser, paper towels and hand dryers to ensure hand hygiene is maintained, and educators have easy access to disposable gloves as well. Since the Coronavirus pandemic began in March 2020, we have stepped up our cleaning and hygiene practices, incorporating disinfectant spray on high-traffic areas at least twice daily.

To ensure the health and safety of all our children, families, educators and visitors, we ask that children do not attend the service when unwell. ‘Just a cold’ in one child could present as a very serious illness in another child. Young children are not as adept as adults at covering their mouth or sneezing into tissues, so can easily spread illnesses in enclosed spaces. The best place for a child who is unwell is resting at home – this will assist with a quick recovery so they can return to Starfish sooner. Some of the illnesses that require a child to stay home include: vomiting, diarrhoea, fever, green runny nose, coughing, conjunctivitis and unexplained rash. If unsure, we recommend speaking with your GP, as they can advise whether your child is fit to attend Starfish or not. If your child is too unwell to attend we ask that you notify the centre. Please note that fees are still payable for booked days if your child doesn’t attend, but Centrelink will also pay CCS so it will only be the gap fee that is payable.

Our sleep/rest routines are flexible to take into account the needs and home routines of the individual children and their families. Most children have a rest or sleep after lunch, but if a child is tired outside of these hours and needs a sleep, we can accommodate this. The baby rooms follow the individual home routines as much as possible, so their sleep times, bottle and mealtimes will be different to the other rooms. Towards the end of the year, the children in the 4yo kindergarten room will move to doing quiet experiences rather than resting, which will assist with their transition to school. Nappies are changed approximately every 2-3 hours (more frequently for the babies) or immediately after soiling themselves.

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Contact our team to learn more or secure your child’s place at Starfish today!