Unit 8, 22 Hudson Avenue, Castle Hill NSW 2154

About STaR

STaR stands for Special Teaching and Research. Founded in December 2001 by a group of parents and professionals, STaR provides early intervention support services for young children with disabilities and special learning needs – and for the people who support them.

We inform and support parents and childcare professionals to ensure that every child and their carers have the chance to:

  • access high quality local childcare services
  • be fully informed and supported
  • to be included
  • have their differences honoured and accepted.

Drawing on the latest research, we have helped affiliated childcare centres to include children with disabilities, and families to enrol their child in an accepting environment. So those children with disabilities can reach their full potential.

STaR Association Children
Our first STaR children in 2002

Why we are needed

Finding out that your child has unusual development needs is very difficult. There’s the initial shock. Then so many questions come. Then there’s also the confusion as you try to get clear information on what to do and find options.

Founded by parents and education professionals who have been through it all. STaR knows what it’s like and what support you need.

Our model is unique and our commitment to supporting you is complete.

At STaR we believe that all children, no matter the challenges they face, have the right to attend their local childcare centre. It is good for them and good for the other children already in the centre. Our evidence-based, research-driven approach proves it. STaR has already helped hundreds of children and supported more than two dozen childcare centres. The staff in STaR-affiliated childcare centres are saying every year that our support is valuable.

Frequently asked questions

STaR special educators and support personnel work with the most complex children; we don’t deny them entry to the program because they have a significant disability. We have children who have severe and multiple disabilities as well as with children with milder disabilities.

It is incredibly difficult for young families.

First of all, they will need to come to terms with the diagnosis, and secondly, they will be very concerned that people won’t be accepting of their child and family. It is challenging for these families when going into a childcare setting or any kind of community setting. They worry that other families or other children are going to notice and judge their child’s difference.

It is very important to have an environment that is encouraging of both the child and family, where there are special services to support the child’s development.

It’s been amazingly successful. We’ve had very difficult children who were totally non-engaged with their childcare environment. We’ve been able to encourage and promote their participation to the point where the children are able to interact with their peers and make some amazing developmental progress.

Early intervention is accepting of differences across families. Special educators are trained to work with people who have cultural and other differences. We always work within the experience of the family. If you believe in family-centred practice, you believe that you need to work closely with families, to be very accepting of individual family differences.

Our history

The STaR model grew out of the Early Years Initiative at the Macquarie University Special Education Centre (MUSEC). The program educated 3-6-year-old children with disabilities and typically-developing preschoolers together.

Under the direction of Dr Coral Kemp, The Early Years Intiative showed the benefits of this model for all children over 10 years of operation and research. For more than 40 years, Coral has worked in the area of early childhood intervention as a special educator, consultant, and researching academic.

“There is no doubt that children with and without disabilities learn together beautifully and both benefit. There is absolutely no doubt about that. Because of that and because of my experiences at the University, I knew that we needed to have a good program out there to promote inclusion. Because of that I developed the STaR model, which has been incredibly successful over the last 20 years. This model is unique. We have the top special education staff working alongside early childhood educators to promote the development of young children with disabilities in childcare centres. This model is based on research. No other early intervention that is a general program in the community has this kind of focus on research.”

Dr Coral Kemp