Frequently asked questions
Find answers to common questions around Early Learning, including enrolment, fees and payments, arrival and pick-up, care and safety, and more.
How do I choose a child care centre?
Choosing a child care centre for the first time is exciting, but it can stir up different feelings. With so many things to consider, how do you know where to start?
To be sure that a child care centre is right for you and your child, we recommend considering the following five things:
- Quality of education – look for a centre that will provide valuable learning experiences for your child. Does the centre have a range of programs and activities to support their holistic development? Are the rooms well-equipped and stimulating? Will your child get the opportunity to explore and be inspired?
- Centre credentials – check that the centre is licensed and registered to provide child care services. You can also look at the centre's National Quality Standards rating, the qualifications and experience of its educators, and reviews from other families.
- Atmosphere – visit the centres you are interested in and take note of how they feel. Is the centre safe, welcoming and comfortable? Do the children seem happy? Are the staff kind and do the educators have a good relationship with the children? Above all, can you see your child enjoying themselves there?
- Logistics – what is the ideal location of your child care centre? This could be somewhere close to home or nearby your workplace. Also think about how many hours of care your child will need and check whether there is availability at the centres you're looking at.
- Food menus – take a look at the centre's approach to food and nutrition. A great centre will provide fresh, healthy food options and all centres should be able to cater to your child's dietary and religious requirements if needed.
When you consider these things, the process of choosing a child care centre should become a little clearer. If you have any questions about whether our early learning centres will suit you and your child's needs, please contact us. We'll be happy to help guide you through the process.
What is your curriculum?
We believe in encouraging young minds to grow. Our philosophy is to deliver a play-based curriculum that supports children to explore, experiment, discover new things and let their imagination soar.
As well incorporating play-based experiences into your child’s day, our curriculum is informed by your child’s interests and curiosity. This enriches your child’s learning and empowers them to enter each stage of their young life with confidence.
The Australian government's Early Years Learning Framework also guides our curriculum. In line with the framework, we focus on literacy and communication; numeracy and science; and creativity and art. Developing your child's self-confidence and autonomy is another key part of our philosophy, as is fostering an appreciation of the natural world.
Our passionate and highly experienced educators deliver our childcare and kindergarten curriculum through inspiring, age-appropriate activities. This includes activities involving technology, group time and quiet time, as well as activities that promote social-emotional, cognitive and problem-solving skills.
During these activities, our educators provide opportunities for your child to express themselves. They focus on the process of the activity rather than emphasising a prescribed outcome. This helps your child to use their initiative, expand their imagination and try new things.
We work in partnership with families to set learning goals around each child’s development stage, interests and unique needs.
We know you want your child to thrive and this approach to learning will give them the best start in life. At our centres, your child will get the chance to grow and learn, make new friends, discover more about their world and be adventurous every single day.
What can I expect from a tour?
When it comes to choosing the right ELC for you and your child, it's really important to see a centre in person. If you book a centre tour, you'll get the opportunity to:
- meet our educators;
- see our daily routines;
- explore our indoor and outdoor spaces;
- ask any questions you may have.
This will give you a feel for what the centre is like and make your decision making much easier.
How do I know that your team understands my child's needs?
From the moment you first get in touch with us, we work hard to understand the needs of your child.
During the orientation process, our educators will work with you to understand how we can best support your child’s wellbeing. We’ll chat with you about your child’s routine, their interests and your learning and development goals.
We value regular meetings and face to face conversations throughout your time with us. At every drop-off and pick-up, our educators will let you know how your child’s day was. We also encourage you to talk to us about how your child is doing at home.
This communication will make sure that we complement your child’s development between home and centre. By working together, we can ensure your child reaches their full potential.
Do I have to be on a wait list?
If your chosen early learning centre is full, you will go on a waiting list once you have spoken with us and submitted a booking request. Your booking request will remain pending until a place becomes available.
When a place becomes available, you'll receive an offer of place via email. You'll have three days to accept the offer. If you haven't accepted the offer within three days, it will expire and those requested days will become available to the next family who is on the waiting list.
The length of our waiting lists depends on the centre you are booking into – some centres have longer waiting lists than others.
If there is availability at your early learning centre, you won't have to go on a waiting list. Once you've spoken to us and submitted your booking request, we'll approve it and send you an offer of place via email.
Find out more about our enrolment process.
How old does my child have to be to attend an early learning centre at the Y?
Your child must be between six weeks and five years old to attend one of our early learning centres.
How do I book a place in an early learning centre?
The first step to booking a place at one of our early learning centres is to contact us. Simply submit an enquiry or give us a call to express your interest. We also recommend attending a tour of your preferred early learning centre.
After you've gotten in touch, our team will confirm whether there's availability for your child.
If your chosen early learning centre has a place available, you'll be able to enrol via My Family Lounge (our online enrolment and booking system). The main steps to book your child's place are to:
- create a My Family Lounge account;
- complete the online enrolment form;
- submit a booking request;
- accept your offer of place.
Find out more about how to enrol.
- Where do I get an immunisation history statement?
What is the orientation process?
Every child deals with changes in routine differently, so we offer flexible orientation periods to suit your needs and help your child settle in. This process is free of charge and usually involves a series of short visits in the time leading up to them starting care.
Orientation gives your child an opportunity to familiarise themselves with the centre, our educators, other children and our programs. We'll work with you to ensure that orientation supports your child’s needs and wellbeing.
You'll need to stay on-site with your child during these visits. We also encourage you to speak with our educators about your child’s individual routines, current interests and learning and development goals.
Beyond orientation, our educators are always willing to discuss your child’s individual health, ongoing development, strengths and interests. Families can do this either informally during arrival or pick-up, or as part of a formal appointment.
How can I change or cancel my booking?
If you need to change or cancel a permanent booking, you'll need to contact your centre and provide written notice at least 14 days' before your booking.
Casual bookings require seven days' notice and can be changed or cancelled through the My Family Lounge website or app.
Find out more about how to make enrolment changes.
Payment and fees
Can I get the Child Care Subsidy for early learning programs?
Yes, our Early Learning services qualify for the Federal Government's Child Care Subsidy (CCS). This may reduce your child care fees if your family is eligible for CCS support and additional funding.
A minimum of six weeks' notice is required to start a CCS application process. If you're eligible and have been approved by the government, you'll see the subsidy applied on the statement we send you. You will only need to pay the gap fee difference.
Find out more about the Child Care Subsidy.
How do I pay for Early Learning?
All payments for our Early Learning services are made by direct debit. Unfortunately, we do not accept cash or cheques at our ELCs.
Your payments will be direct debited from your nominated account in advance for the upcoming fortnight. You'll receive your statement every fortnight on a Monday and the direct debit is processed on a Thursday.
You must ensure that your billing information is uploaded when you enrol, otherwise your bookings will be cancelled and your child will not be able to attend the school holiday program. If you need to check, please sign in to My Family Lounge and update your billing information.
Learn more about our payment processes.
Arrival and pick-ups
When can I drop off my child in the morning?
Most of our early learning centres open for drop-off at 6:30am. However some centres (such as Narre Warren and Happy Days Macarthur Square) open slightly later at 7:00am. Check your location's opening time to see when you can drop off your child.
What if I'm running late to pick up my child?
Late collection can be stressful for you and your child so please ensure you pick your child up on time.
If you're running late and can't collect your child by the end of the session / closing time, please arrange for someone else to do so and notify your early learning centre as soon as possible.
Please note that the names and contact numbers of all people authorised to collect your child must be included in your child’s enrolment record.
Any changes to these details must be updated in My Family Lounge or given to your centre in writing. The person collecting your child will also need to provide photo ID such as a current driver's licence when they collect your child.
If your child isn't collected by the end of the session / closing time, a late fee of $2.00 per minute may be charged. If we haven't heard from you, we'll attempt to contact you by phone. If we can't reach you we'll try to contact your nominated emergency person (or people). If no contact has been made 30 to 45 minutes after closing time, the local police will be called.
You can find more information about this in our Delivery and Collection of Children procedure.
What if my child is unwell and can't attend?
If your child is unwell and cannot attend their booked day, please notify your early learning centre as soon as possible.
Centrelink allocates 42 approved absence days of CCS per child per year. Absences over the 42 days will only receive CCS if you provide evidence to your early learning centre of:
- an illness;
- an outbreak of infectious disease when your child is not immunised;
- medical certificates to show sickness of your child, a parent or sibling.
If you've exceeded your 42 days of approved absence, full fees will be charged to your account for any days that your child is absent.
What do our early learning centres provide?
- Meals and snacks
- Milks and alternative milks
- Toys and educational resources
- Wipes and bed linen
What food is provided?
We provide nutritional food your child will love. Our menus consist of healthy and balanced meals that use fresh, seasonal produce. This encourages children to develop a positive attitude towards trying new foods. Your child can get involved in special cooking experiences too.
When creating our menus, we'll work closely with you to make sure we cater to your child’s needs, including food allergies and other dietary requirements. We can even include your own family recipes, which helps us to serve up varied, multicultural meals.
To support healthy outcomes for children, we also follow the Victorian government's Healthy Eating Advisory Service guidelines. This ensures that all our meals meet nutritional requirements for children.
Care and safety
What are your safeguarding children and quality standards?
Nothing is more important than the safety and wellbeing of children and young people. We all have an obligation to do the best we can to keep children safe from harm and abuse, which is why we embed child-safe practices into everything we do.
We abide by the 11 Child Safe Standards set by the Commission for Children and Young People, and our program and procedures have been independently reviewed by the Australian Childhood Foundation.
We also aim to exceed the National Quality Framework (NQF) in our everyday practice. The NQF governs all early childhood and school-aged education and care services in Australia and ensures all services operate to a high standard.
Find out more about our safeguarding children and quality standards and the policies we have in place to ensure the safety of your child. You can find information specific to our Early Learning services in our Family Handbook.
What if my child has a medical condition or allergy?
If your child has an allergy, chronic illness or other medical condition, you must make sure this information is included in your child's enrolment record.
Your child's doctor must also prepare a medical management plan, which you'll need to provide to us. We'll also work with you to develop an individual risk minimisation plan for your child. All staff will be informed of your child's requirements and the medical management plan and risk minimisation plan will be available for all staff to view.
To ensure the health and wellbeing of your child, you'll need to provide any medication or equipment identified in the medical management plan to your early learning centre before your child can attend. If our educators need any special training to assist them in the daily care of your child, this must also be arranged before your child starts at the service.
It's important that medical management plans are kept up to date. Make sure you review your child's plan with their doctor each year and inform your early learning centre of any changes.
What is a medical management plan? How do I get one?
Children with allergies, a chronic illness, medical condition or other diagnosed health care need must have a medical management plan. The medical management plan contains important information about:
- their allergy, chronic illness or medical condition, including its severity;
- any prescribed medication they need to take, including medication required in an emergency;
- how our centres should respond if symptoms emerge and what they should do if the child does not respond to the initial treatment;
- when to call an ambulance.
You can get a medical management plan from your child's doctor. You must then provide it to your early learning centre and keep it up to date.
What if my child needs to take medication?
If your child requires medication, please request an 'Authorisation to Administer Medication Form' from your centre and complete the form with a staff member on arrival.
Medication will be administered if:
- it has been prescribed for the child by a registered medical practitioner;
- it is in the original bottle or packaging with the original label that bears the name of the child to whom the medication is to be administered;
- it is in date (not passed expiry / best before date);
- you have provided written permission for staff to administer the medication;
- it has been entered in the medication register or detailed in the child’s medical management plan;
- the first dose has been administered by the parent / guardian at least 24 hours prior to attendance at the service in case of an adverse reaction;
- two of our Early Childhood Educators are present to administer and supervise the correct dosage of medication.
- medication cannot be left in children’s bags;
- if a child has a temperature and requires Panadol or Nurofen, they will be deemed to be too unwell to attend the program.
What are your educator to child ratios?
We comply with national law and maintain educator to child ratios at all times. This includes supervision during play, transitions, toileting, meal times and sleep / rest.
We always have two educators present, which exceeds the minimum staff requirements of the Education and Care Services National Law. This policy also provides additional reassurance of your child’s safety.
How do you deal with behavioural issues?
We always encourage children to be curious, active learners and we promote good behaviour through positive reinforcement.
Our staff also participate in regular training and professional development to support positive behaviour and interactions. This means we can support your child in the best way possible.
For more information about our behaviour guidance practices please speak to your Centre Manager.