About STaR

Our first STaR children in 2002

Our first STaR children

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:

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.

Find out more about what we do, and how you can support us.

Why we are Needed

Finding out that your child has an 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 themselves. We know 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 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. Furthermore, our evidence-based, research-driven approach proves it. Star has already helped hundreds of children, and supported a dozen childcare centres. The staff in STaR-affiliated childcare centres are saying every year that our support had been valuable.

Read some of our success stories on the meet our families page.


Frequently Asked Questions

How complex are the children we work with?

Start Association 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, multiple disabilities as well as with children with fewer disabilities. 

How successful has the STaR program been with those very challenging and complicated children?

It’s been amazingly successful. We’ve had very difficult children, that were totally non-engaged with their 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.

What is the most challenging thing for young families who receive the diagnosis of a child with a disability in a community that is not necessarily accepting?

It is incredibly difficult for young families.

First of all, coming to terms with the diagnosis, and secondly, being very concerned that people won’t be accepting of your child and family. That is very difficult when going into a childcare setting or any kind of community setting. You worry that other families or other children are going to notice your child’s difference.

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

How does special education work with a family that comes from a very different culture of thinking around disability?

Early intervention is accepting of differences and families. Special educators are trained to work with people of cultural differences. We always work within the cultural experience of the family and, if you believe in family-centered practice, you believe that you need to work closely with families, to be very accepting of cultural differences.


Our History

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

Under the direction of Dr Coral Kemp, with 10 years of operation and research, it showed the benefits of this model for all children.

For more than 40 years, Coral has worked in the area of early childhood intervention as a special educator, consultant, and researching academic. In the video below, Coral explains why the STaR model is wonderfully unique, and deserves to be implemented across all early childhood centre’s.




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The STaR Association receives funding from the Australian Government Department of Social Services (DSS) and the NSW Department of Education


We are in partnership with Macquarie University

Thank you to our Sponsors and Partners

  • MonSTaR Foundation
  • Australian Stock Brokers Foundation
  • MadDog Graphics
  • Gilbert Tobin
  • TecWare
  • The Internet Bloke