Family Handbook

Meerilinga acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Ballardung, Wadjuk, Noongar Country, where Meerilinga’s main offices are located, and recognises their continuing connection to land, water and community. We pay respect to their cultures and to Elders past, present and future in the spirit of reconciliation.

Welcome to Meerilinga

Meerilinga is a not-for-profit organisation and registered charity that works to improve the wellbeing of children, early childhood professionals and communities within Western Australia. The organisation works collaboratively to facilitate a wide range of services, programs and activities. Meerilinga Children and Family Centres are guided by a key set of values.

These include:

  • Respect for each other, the community and environment
  • Empathy for the challenges faced by children and members and acknowledgement of capacity to reach their potential
  • Creation of a genuinely welcoming environment that nurtures a sense of belonging for everyone
  • Recognition and valuing of diversity
  • Advocacy for children, members and those who work with them and continuously finding helpful ways to speak up about issues that matter to these communities.
Our Early Learning Programs
Playgroup 0-4 years

No child is too young for playgroup. All children from birth-5 years, love new experiences and benefit from developing sensory, social and communication skills through activities at playgroup. Playgroups vary from one session a week made up of three or more members to multiple sessions over the week. Our playgroups coincide with the WA school term.

What happens at playgroup?

First and foremost – PLAY! Playgroup sessions are flexible and offer a combination of free play and planned activities including:

  • Indoor and outdoor play
  • Physical play
  • Arts and craft
  • Music and movement
  • Story time and nursery rhymes
  • Messy play – for example finger painting and water play
  • Conversation and support

Playgroups benefit children, members and the wider community. Whilst it is true children can play anywhere, playgroup has an added benefit of providing opportunities for playing with other children and practicing important social skills. Playgroups also form a safe space for parents to connect, share information and access support in their community.

Bindi Kindi for children 2-3 years

This toddler program focuses on the pre-school readiness skills, socialisation, sharing and cooperation through small group play. Our Educators focus on supporting children in their foundation skills of learning how to develop friendships and gain confidence as they interact with others. We provide this in a play based approach, ensuring we support each child’s individuality and interests.

Pre-Kindy for children 3-5 years

Our Pre-Kindy program has a school readiness focus, which is extended to literacy, numeracy and science. As a result of shared thinking and active listening, we are able to discover the world around us and develop the confidence to develop strong social and communication skills. We are passionate about practicing sustainability in engaging, nature-based garden spaces.

Early Childhood Curriculum Statement

A high-quality pre-kindergarten curriculum builds a strong holistic foundation for children’s development. Forming a solid base to support them through their more formal school years.

Meerilinga’s Early Learning Program is founded on the Early Years Learning Framework. The curriculum content is responsive to the children’s interests and based on a combination of the National Australian Curriculum and the Western Australian Curriculum Framework.

A balanced approach to teaching and learning, our play-based pedagogy is designed to engage and empower children. Play combined with intentional teaching extends the educational focus to literacy, numeracy and scientific skill development. Learning occurs through sustained shared thinking, active investigation, listening and responding to children as Educators make learning visible.

Through our program, children are encouraged to wonder, ask questions and explore. Actively figuring out the world around them.

This approach uses various strategies to develop effective communication, creativity, problem-solving and thoughtful risk-taking. Enabling our children to become increasingly independent and confident learners as appropriate.

Essential to providing a rich and vibrant learning environment, our programs encourage fluid transition between indoor and outdoor educational areas. The nature-based environment is highly valued when extending and developing thinking and investigation skills in all areas of learning.

Connections established within engaging play spaces benefit each child’s health, wellbeing and ability to build self-resilience.

Meerilinga’s holistic approach to developing the whole child, embeds ‘school readiness’ and provides a firm foundation for success in the life-long journey of learning.

For more information, see our Children’s Experiences, Learning and Evaluation Policy.

Our Commitment to Children and Families

Meerilinga prides itself in recognising Early Childhood Australia (ECA) Code of Ethics. Designed especially for Education and Care environments, and based on the principles of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (1991) the ECA Code of Ethics reflects current pedagogical research and practice, providing a framework for reflection about the ethical responsibilities of early childhood professionals who work with or on behalf of children and families in Education and Care settings.

We maintain the highest of standards when working beside you and your child, so please make us accountable for these ethics by ensuring we always exceed best practices guidelines when working with your child and family.

In relation to children, Meerilinga will:

  • Act in the best interests of all children;
  • Create and maintain safe, healthy, inclusive environments that support children’s agency and enhance their learning;
  • Provide a meaningful curriculum to enrich children’s learning, balancing child and educator initiated experiences;
  • Understand and be able to explain to others how play and leisure enhance children’s learning, development and wellbeing;
  • Ensure childhood is a time for being in the here and now and not solely about preparation for the future;
  • Collaborate with children as global citizens in learning about our shared responsibilities to the environment and humanity;
  • Value the relationship between children and their families and enhance these relationships through our practice;
  • Ensure that children are not discriminated against on the basis of gender, sexuality, age, ability, economic status, family structure, lifestyle, ethnicity, religion, language, culture, or national origin;
  • Negotiate children’s participation in research, by taking into account their safety, privacy, levels of fatigue and interest;
  • Respect children as capable learners by including their perspectives in teaching, learning and assessment;
  • Safeguard the security of information and documentation about children, particularly when shared on digital platforms.

In relation to families, Meerilinga will:

  • Support families as children’s first and most important teacher and respect their right to make decisions about their children;
  • Listen to and learn with families and engage in shared decision making, planning and assessment practices in relation to children’s learning, development and wellbeing;
  • Develop respectful relationships based on open communication with the aim of encouraging families’, engagement and to build a strong sense of belonging;
  • Learn about, respect and respond to the uniqueness of each family, their circumstances, culture, family structure, customs, language, beliefs and kinship systems;
  • Respect families’ right to privacy and maintain confidentiality.

Click here to access the full version of the Code of Ethics.

Communication

We believe that a child’s connection to their families is fundamentally the most important relationship a child has. We create a welcoming environment where all children and families are respected and actively encouraged to collaborate with educators in order to ensure that their wellbeing andlearning experiences are intentional and meaningful.

This partnership is based on the foundations of understanding each other’s expectations and attitudes and is built on the strength of each other’s knowledge. We actively encourage parents to share their ideas, time, talents and skills in the service environment. Our families are encouraged to participate in cooperative decision making regarding all aspects of service delivery including policy making, maintenance of the environment and program design and we work to create open, honest lines of communication with all families.

Early Works is an online communication, programming, planning and documentation tool for Pre Kindy and Bindi Kindi that provides families with a more in depth overview of their child’s learning journey. Digitally connecting parents with curriculum, including individual learning outcomes and happenings within the service. Early Works encourage families offer feedback on the program in a time and manner that best suits them.

Early Works is free to download and all families will be added upon enrolment.

Our Daily Routine

Our daily routine is flexible and follows the rhythm of the children rather than a clock. This allows the children to engage in meaningful experiences and puts them in charge of thoughtful decision making. Our days differ depending on the children’s needs and interests.

Playgroup

Various session days and times available. Check out your local centre for further details.

Time Routine
9.30am – 10.30am Welcome families. Discussions about and implementation of the planned activities for the day’s session.
10.30am Rolling morning tea.
10.45am Planned activities continue. Indoor/Outdoor.
11.00am Families engage in cleaning.
11.15am – 11.30am Mat time
Music and story
Goodbye Song
11.30am Home time.

 

Bindi Kindi

Beechboro: Thursday & Friday
Cockburn: Tuesday & Wednesday
High Wycombe: Wednesday & Thursday
Kingsley: Tuesday & Wednesday
Session times: 8.30am-12.00pm

Time Routine
8.30am – 9.30am Children arrive and settle.
9am – 9.15am Group time
Acknowledgement of Country
Welcome song
Language and Literacy focus
9.15am – 9.30am Morning tea.
9.30am – 11.45am Intentional teaching. Indoor/Outdoor learning environments.
11.45am – 12pm Mat time, music and movement. Families are encouraged to join in during this mat time.
Reflections on the day
Goodbye song

 

Pre-Kindy

Monday – Friday from Ballajura, Beechboro, Coolbellup, High Wycombe, Kingsley & Woodvale locations.
Session times: 8.30am – 3.30pm

Time Routine
8.30am Children arrive and settle.
9am – 9.30am Group time
Acknowledgement of Country
Welcome song
Language and Literacy focus
9.30am – 11.30am Intentional teaching. Indoor/Outdoor learning environments.
9.30am – 10.30am Rolling morning tea.
11.30am Mat session
Interactive story time
11.45am – 12.15pm Children’s lunch time
Time for healthy eating discussions
12.15pm – 2pm Quiet activities
Sleep/rest period for children who require it
1.30pm – 2pm Indoor/Outdoor activities dependent on the day’s UV rating. All activities involve intentional teaching, with school readiness outcomes.
3.00pm Mat time, music and movement
Reflections of the day
Goodbye song

 

Settling Your Child
Pre-kindy and Bindi Kindi

Each child’s experience of starting an early learning program is different and while some children eagerly join right in, other children need a little bit longer to adjust. You are encouraged to visit our program prior to commencing and you are welcome to participate and be involved in any aspect of the program during this orientation process.

Here are a few suggestions we hope will help make it easier to settle in your child:

  • Start talking about our early learning program before you start. We have a welcome storybook available to help you with this process, please ask the educators and they will arrange for you to take it home.
  • Be positive about starting. If you are apprehensive about leaving your child, they will be apprehensive too. (Children tend to pick up on parent’s feelings and often magnify them).
  • Expect that your child may be sad or reluctant initially – this is normal. How you deal with it will make a difference.
  • Let your child bring in something comforting from home such as a favourite stuffed animal, a photo or a security blanket, etc.
  • Always say goodbye so your child knows you are going.
  • Establish a routine for dropping off your child so that they know what to expect. Routine is important to children.
  • Leave quickly and smoothly once you have said goodbye. If you have forgotten something please ring us rather than returning to go through the separation process again. The actual ‘goodbye’ is going to be the hardest part of your child’s day, so make it as quick as possible. If your child is anxious, the longer you stay the more the anxiety is going to grow. There is a good chance that you will not be able to talk your child through this process, so be really brave!

If you are having difficulty separating from your child, please let one of our staff know so that they can quickly comfort your child and allow you to go.
Please rest assured that we will be honest and open with you at all times. If your child is not settling and continues to be distressed throughout the day, we will call you.

Arrivals and Departures

On arrival at the centre, please ensure that you do the following:

  • Sign in your child
  • To minimise the spread of germs between home and the Centre, wash your child’s hands, find their name and place their hand towel on their hook,
  • Assist your child to place their bag on their hook,
  • Place lunch box and drink bottle on trolley/fridge if required,
  • Apply, or assist with applying, sunscreen to your child’s face and other exposed skin (you may do this at home if you prefer) – see our Sun Safety Policy
  • Speak with an educator about anything that may impact on your child’s day. (Pre Kindy and Bindi Kindi

When collecting your child from the centre, please:

  • Sign your child out
  • Collect your child’s belongings, including any wet clothes or artwork and
  • Ensure that your child’s educator is aware of your child’s departure. (Pre Kindy and Bindi Kindi)

PLEASE NOTE: It is essential that you sign your child in and out when on arrival and departure. This attendance record is used to ensure all children are evacuated during a fire drill or in an emergency. Failure to sign “IN” could place your child in danger during an emergency and failure to sign “OUT” could result in staff or fire officers re-entering a burning building to locate a missing child and needlessly placing their lives at risk. In addition, it is a requirement from the licensing department to enable us to claim Child Care Subsidy (CCS) on your behalf. As this is a legal requirement, it is important that parents sign in the correct manner.

What to Bring

Your child will need to bring a bag each day that contains the following personal items:

  • One full change of clothing, including underwear & socks (if worn);
  • A jacket during the cooler months;
  • A Hat (sunsmart style);
  • Nappies, or training pants (if required and enough for the day).
  • Comfort items.
  • Wet bag to store soiled clothes

All items must be clearly named. While we try to ensure that things are not lost or damaged, we cannot take responsibility for unnamed articles.

Clothing

Our program includes activities that are creative and sometimes quite messy, so please dress your child in older clothes that you don’t mind getting a little dirty. During the warmer months when the UV levels increase, please dress your child in sun safe clothing (refer to the Sun Protection section of this handbook).

Food and Drink

Children should all have had a good nutritious breakfast before arriving. Children who attend the Centre must bring a healthy lunchbox filled with enough food for morning/afternoon teas and lunch and a water bottle filled with fresh water.

Please choose containers that are easy for child to open and clearly labelled with their name. Children have access to their lunchboxes throughout the day, please advise our Educators if your child’s lunch box needs refrigerating to keep the food at a safe temperature.

We encourage families to send a variety of healthy food choices such as pre-cut fresh fruits and vegetables, cheeses, milk, yogurt, and whole grain breads or crackers. Please do not provide cordials or juices in water bottles.

Foods to limit are known as ‘discretionary choices’, these foods are high in kilojoules, saturated fat, added sugar and salt. Discretionary foods are not an essential or necessary part of our dietary pattern such as, sweet biscuits, cake, fried foods, crisps etc.

Please refer to the link below for detailed information on Healthy Eating for Children, including healthy food choices, recommended daily intake specific to age and gender of a child. Other topics include hard foods that may increase the risk of choking for children under 5 years of age. Meerilinga does not allow popcorn to be consumed by children attending our Early Learning Programs. Find out more: https://www.eatforhealth.gov.au/sites/default/files/content/The%20Guidelines/n55f_children_brochure.pdf

Our programs are ‘Allergy Aware’ and nut free. We ask families not to pack foods that may put another child’s health or life at risk (refer to the Anaphylaxis section of this handbook).

Toys from Home

We have a large range of toys and equipment for your child to play with. We encourage the children to leave their own toys at home as educators cannot take responsibility for the loss or breakage of personal toys. Some children may wish to bring a security toy or blanket during their early days, if so, please label the toy or blanket clearly with your child’s name.

Sleep, Rest & Toileting

Pre-kindy and Bindi Kindi

Sleep and rest

Every child is different and we want to make sure their individual rest and sleep requirements are met so they have the energy they need to participate fully in our early learning programs. Rest times are incorporated into our daily routine and are dependent on the children’s needs. Please let us know your expectations about sleep and rest for your child, and any information that will help us ensure your child is comfortable.

Toileting

At Meerilinga it is our goal to foster your child’s independence, we encourage children to develop their toileting skills and will support parents with this process. If your child is toilet training please let our educators know so we can continue to support them through this process.

For more information, see our Sleep and Rest Policy.

Child Protection

Meerilinga believes that the interests of the children have to be held above all others. Educators report any concerns to the Chief Executive Officer if they have cause to suspect incidents of child neglect or abuse. If the Chief Executive Officer feels that there are “reasonable grounds” to suspect that a child is at risk of, or has been abused, he or she will report these suspicions to the relevant authorities as per policy and procedure.

For more information, see our Child Safe Environment – Child Protection Policy.

Sun Protection

Our Early Learning Programs are registered as a SunSmart service with the Cancer Council WA and our practice is guided by their recommendations.

To ensure that all children are protected from skin damage caused by the sun we provide sunscreen for all children. Sunscreen needs to be applied 20 minutes prior to going outside, we recommend this is done before your child attends the program. Sunscreen is available at the service. A family may choose to provide their own sunscreen if their child reacts to some creams.

Families are asked to dress children in clothing that covers as much skin as possible, particularly the shoulders. A top with sleeves is required. Please provide a wide brimmed or legionnaire style hat for child to keep in their bag.  Parents are also required to bring an appropriate hat to wear outdoors. For SunSmart information please speak to staff or go to https://healthywa.wa.gov.au/Articles/F_I/How-to-be-SunSmart

For more information, see our Sun Protection Policy.

 

Behaviour Guidance

Educators at our Early Learning Programs practice positive guidance techniques. Limits to behaviour will be clearly expressed in positive terms and reinforced consistently in a developmentally appropriate way. Children will be encouraged to settle their differences in a peaceful manner. The children will be supported and encouraged to solve conflicts encountered in play. With the help of a supportive adult the children will develop empathy towards others, an understanding and awareness of emotions and problem solving skills.

Staff and parents will role model the behaviour we want to encourage in the children and involve families in discussion about strategies that are used at home.

For more information, see our Guiding Children’s Behaviour Policy.

Birthdays

Birthdays are an important milestone. Should you wish to, you can volunteer to be the parent help and share this special time with your child. Due to regulations on food hygiene and allergies we are unable to accept any homemade food including birthday cakes or any other edible treats. Our Educators help your child to celebrate their special day in a variety of ways.

For more information, see our Nutrition and Beverages Policy.

Meerilinga Pet Friendly Centres

At Meerilinga we believe involving pets in our early learning programs provides many valuable learning experiences for children by observing, interacting with and learning how to care for animals. This can be a valuable part of a child’s education and care experience. Enriching children’s learning by encouraging direct contact and developing bonds with animals, can help children build empathy, patience and improve their communication skills.

Visiting Pets

We encourage our families to share their pets with us. If you would like to bring your pet into our ELP please organise this visit with the service so we can prepare the children and staff for this exciting visit.

When animals visit our centre, the following will be implemented:

  • Parents will be notified, in writing, of the type of animal that will be visiting and when.
  • The Lead educator will ensure that no children have a known allergy or sensitivity to the animal.
  • Our educators will have primary responsibility of supervising all activities associated with the animal’s visit as related to safety and hygiene. This includes making sure that the animal has an acceptable temperament for interactions with children and that the animal is current on all vaccinations (if appropriate).
  • Any animal that has a history of biting or other aggressive behaviours will not be allowed on-site.
  • The animal will be properly cared for while on-site. This is the responsibility of the visiting animal’s owner to provide the required equipment. Leash, bed, food…etc
  • Children will be closely supervised while handling the animal. Children will be in small groups of 3 or fewer while handling the animal.
  • Children will follow their normal hand washing procedures after handling or feeding the animal.
Child-Pet Interaction

To ensure children stay safe during these interactions, the following steps are taken:

  • Our educators will regularly embed in the curriculum information regarding the animal and how to interact gently and appropriately.
  • Children will be taken in small groups (3 or 4) and will be directly supervised by a staff member.
  • Only animals that tolerate and enjoy handling and loud noises will interact with the children.
  • Educators will immediately stop interaction with animals who are showing stress or harmful behaviours.

For more information, see our Pets and Animals in the Environment Policy.

Health and Illness

Our Early Learning Programs are committed to protecting the health and wellbeing of children and staff by minimising the risk of the spread of infections at our centre.

If a child is unwell at home, families are not permitted to drop the child at the centre. Excluding sick and unwell children will reduce the risk of infecting other children and the impact that this has on other families.

If children are showing any of the following signs, parents are well advised to keep them at home:

  • General lethargy and unwellness
  • Fever over 38°C
  • Vomiting within the last 24hrs
  • Diarrhoea within the last 24 hours
  • Heavy continuous nasal discharge – thick, green or bloody
  • Severe or prolonged coughing
  • Discharge from eyes or ears
  • Undiagnosed rashes

In the event a child becomes unwell at the service, staff will respond to individual symptoms of illness, monitor and document the child’s symptoms on a Child Incident Report – Illness.  The parent or emergency will be contacted to inform of their child’s illness and asked to collect. The parent may be requested to obtain a medical clearance for the child before they return to the service.

When in doubt, we ask that you give us a call to determine whether your child should attend. Our centre follows the guidelines for ‘Staying Healthy in Child Care’ published by the National Health and Medical Research Council. You can find this document at www.nhmrc.gov.au.

Medical Conditions

Children living with specific healthcare needs, including diagnosed medical conditions such as anaphylaxis, asthma, allergy, illness, disability etc are identified at the time of enrolment.

To ensure we take every reasonable precaution to protect children in the day to day management of their conditions and dealing with emergency situations as they arise, families must provide a Medical Management Plan before the child commences in the program.

All diagnosed medical conditions must be accompanied by a Medical Management Plan from the child’s Medical Practitioner together with the Medical Risk Minimisation and Communication Plan to be completed in consultation with the Director and Educators caring for the child. All relevant forms including Medical Management Plans for anaphylaxis, allergies and asthma can be obtained through the service and must be updated annually or as required if there are changes to the child’s medical condition.

For more information, see our Illness and Infectious Disease – Child Immunisation Policy and Medications Policy.

Medication
Pre-Kindy and Bindi Kindi

Where a child requires medication, families should consider whether the child is well enough to be at the service, and to keep the child at home if unwell. Medications, including prescription or non-prescription (over the counter) will only be administered to a child at the service:

  • If a ‘Medication Authorisation’ form has been completed by the parent/guardian or authorised nominee, this includes the reason for the medication and when last dose administered;
  • In accordance with any instructions provided by a ‘Registered Health Practitioner’ via the current dispensary label or a written signed explanatory statement letter;
  • the child’s name,
  • the name of the medication,
  • dosage,
  • method (oral, eye, ear, inhaled)
  • frequency,
  • special instructions or circumstances (with food etc)
  • expiry or use by date
  • storage instructions
  • If the child has received at least one dose of the medication with no adverse reaction, at least 24 hours prior to the child attending the service.

A registered health practitioner must approve continuous use of over-the-counter medications. Pain relief medication will only be administered once with good reason in any one day.

Where medication is required for treatment of long term diagnosed medical conditions such as asthma, epilepsy, or ADD/ADHD, a Medical Management Plan from the child’s Medical Practitioner must be provided.

Playgroup

Medications or other dangerous items must not be accessible to children – please advise your playgroup facilitator or centre Director if you would like us to store these in a safe place.

For more information, see our Illness and Infectious Disease – Child Immunisation Policy and Medications Policy.

 

Anaphylaxis

Anaphylaxis is a potentially life threatening, severe allergic reaction after exposure to an allergen (usually to foods, insects or medicines) and is treated as a medical emergency. Not all people with allergies are at risk of anaphylaxis.

Our programs are ‘Allergy Aware’ and nut free. We have children enrolled who live with anaphylaxis. A notice is displayed at the entry of the service informing families of enrolled children who may be at risk of anaphylaxis and their specific allergens eg: bees, eggs etc.

We ask for your co-operation to minimise the risk of these children coming into contact with the allergens by following these simple steps:

  • Foods containing nuts are banned;
  • Children have access to their bags throughout the day, please ensure no food is left in your child’s bag;
  • Please encourage hand washing before coming into the Early Learning Program, hand sanitiser is located at the entry of the service. Children will wash their hands before and after meals during the day;
  • Please be aware of the dangers of cross contamination, ensure your child’s food containers a washed thoroughly as they may contain traces of allergens such as nuts or eggs from previous use.

This is a great opportunity to teach the children about the need for health and hygiene and to raise awareness of caring for others in their community.

Our staff undertake training in the management of anaphylaxis, asthma as well as first aid.

For more information, see our Illness and Infectious Disease – Child Immunisation Policy and Medications Policy

Incidents

We maintain a formal record of all incidents, injury, trauma and illness that occur at the service. Parents will be notified of any incident either by phone or in person.

The parent will be required to sign the report to acknowledge they have been informed.

For more information, see our Incident, Injury, Trauma and First Aid Policy.

Immunisation
Pre-Kindy and Bindi Kindi

The Public Health Act 2016 (WA) regulations require us to collect, record and report immunisation information about each child enrolled in the service.

In accordance with the Education and Care Regulations and the terms and condition of enrolment acceptance, Meerilinga will request a copy of each child’s current AIR Immunisation History Statement .

Children must also meet the immunisation requirements for the enrolling parent/guardian to receive Child Care Subsidy (CCS) fee assistance

Failure to provide a current immunisation status record will result in non-acceptance of the child’s enrolment.

Playgroup

Families registered in playgroup are strongly encouraged to have their children immunised in accordance with WA Department of Health guidelines.

For more information visit:

https://www.healthywa.wa.gov.au/Articles/S_T/Starting-or-moving-schools-immunisation-records

For more information, see our Illness and Infectious Disease – Child Immunisation Policy.

Community Health Program

Community child health nurses support all families with young children. They offer health and development assessments, along with screening, immunisation advice and support to families with young children.

From 1 July, all families in Western Australia will be offered health checks at the following ages for their children:

  • 0-14 days
  • 8 weeks
  • 4 months
  • 12 months
    2 years
  • starting school (usually Kindergarten).

It’s important that you see the community child health nurse at these key ages to check your child’s health and development. For further information we suggest go http://healthywa.wa.gov.au

Fees and Payments
Fees and Payments

Administration Fee:  $50 per family, upon enrolment, non-refundable and once per calendar year.

Playgroup Membership Fee: $30 per term single child family, $35 multiple child family

Pre-Kindy Daily Session Fee: $90

Bindi Kindi Session Fee: $50

 

Child Care Subsidy (CCS) Pre Kindy & Bindi Kindi

Child Care Subsidy (CCS) is a payment made by the Australian Government to help families with the cost of quality child care and early education. The CCS entitlement for eligible families is paid directly to the service. Families then pay the remaining gap fee difference between the full fees charged and the subsidy amount.

If you would like to make a claim for CCS, you need to create a myGov account to enable registering of the CCS and complete the Child Care Subsidy Assessment. This must be completed at the time of enrolment, when (or before) each child commences care.

Three things will determine a family’s level of CCS:

  1. A family’s combined income will determine the percentage of subsidy they are eligible to receive.
  2. An activity test will determine how many hours of subsidised care families can access, up to a maximum of 100 per fortnight.
  3. The type of child care service will determine the hourly rate cap.

All families must enter into a Complying Written Arrangement (CWA) with Meerilinga to provide care in return for fees. The arrangement details enrolling parent and child information, including their individual Customer Reference Numbers (CRN), the pattern in daily session bookings and hours per week and the full fees charged before CCS approval.

If your child commences before your application has been processed at Centrelink, you will be required to pay full fees until your account is active and CCS is approved. Centrelink will reimburse your account with any CCS allowable entitlements and backdate up to 28 days (only) from your start date.

Additional Child Care Subsidy (ACCS)

Meerilinga can only make application for ACCS (Child Wellbeing) where an enrolled child is identified as at risk of abuse or neglect. Applications for all other types of ACCS (Temporary Financial Hardship, Grandparent or Transition to Work) must be made directly to Centrelink by the parent or legal guardian of the child.

Payment of Fees

Fees are paid on Friday each week by direct debit from your nominated account. Child Care EasyPay is our provider for processing child care fees payments and you will receive a Direct Debit Request.

The administration fee will be deducted upon acceptance of enrolment or re-enrolment, once per calendar for your family.

Fees are payable for the agreed routine daily sessions of enrolment, this includes where absences are taken, such as public holidays, illness, vacations and in school holidays. Fees will not be charged for annual scheduled closure over Christmas/New Year period and mid year break, and one day nominated for planning. You will be provided a dated statement each week via email, unless otherwise agreed. The statement outlines CCS (if approved), fees you’ve paid and any amount owing.

A dishonour fee for failed direct debit transactions will apply from Child Care EasyPay.

If your account falls into arrears, finance department will contact you to discuss collection of the outstanding amount, however families  experiencing financial difficulties may be entitled to additional fee assistance, please discuss this with our Finance Department.

Refund of Fees

Requests for refunds must be made in writing to the Executive Manager Finance and Assets.

Booking Changes or Cancellations

Any changes to your child’s routine booking arrangement must be given in writing.

You must give two (2) weeks’ notice in writing of cessation of the care arrangement with the service. You will continue to be charged for the notice period. If your child does not attend during this period, no CCS will be paid for any days after the child’s last physical day of attendance at the service, therefore full fees will be charged.

Absences

We ask that you notify the service if your child will be absent and the reason, prior to or the morning of their routine booked day. CCS is payable for up to 42 absence days for each child in a financial year for routine sessions of care the child did not attend. A reason does not need to be provided for a child’s initial 42 days of absence. Child Care Subsidy can only be paid for any additional absences where they are taken for a reason set out in Family Assistance Law and evidence is required.

 

Parent Volunteers
Pre Kindy and Bindi Kindi

Parents are welcome to join in our programs at any time. We value parent involvement and the skills you can share with us. Your child will benefit from your participation in the program, even if it is for a short time at the beginning or the end of the day.

Declaration of Good Character must be completed before volunteering.

For more information, see our Relationships and Partnerships with Families Policy.

Closure Periods

Meerilinga operates 48 weeks of service closing annually for 4 weeks. In 2020, the Early Learning Program will be closed from 21 December 2020 and returning Monday 11 January 2021. There will also be a mid-year break from 5 July 2021 and returning Monday 12 July 2021. No fees will be charged to families during closure periods.

Policies

To see Meerilinga’s policies relating to the Early Learning Program, visit Policies.

Privacy

When attending our early learning programs please ensure the privacy of other children and members is maintained and respected by not taking photos or video images of them without permission.

Meerilinga is committed to ensuring that your personal information is kept private. We will handle your personal and sensitive information in accordance with the Commonwealth Privacy Act (1988), subsequent amendments and the Australian Privacy Principles.

To read our full Privacy Policy and how it relates to you please visit our website www.meerilinga.org.au.

Compliments and Complaints

We invite your feedback on any aspect of our services. We welcome any complaints, comments or compliments about the service we provide to you, with the view that this will assist us to improve our service. Complaints and concerns made either in writing, verbally or by phone.

Settlement of an informal complaint will be addressed by your service Advisor. If the complaint is resolved to the clients satisfaction no further action will be followed. If the clients dissatisfied, the formal complaints process will be followed. Formal complaints will be documented and acted on as required by policies.

Complaints process for families:
  1. Talk to the staff member you usually see to assess whether your grievance can be resolved at this level. If no resolution then go to step two.
  2. Contact the Advisor of the service, they will make a record of your complaint and try to resolve it with you.
  3. If you feel your grievance has not been resolved appropriately, you need to formalise the complaint in writing.
  4. Once received from you, the complaint will be discussed with the senior co-ordinator and you will be contacted for further discussion of the issue with yourself and the line manager.
  5. If you are not satisfied with the response the CEO will be given materials related to your grievance and respond within 10 days.
Compliments process for families:

We are always happy to receive compliments about our services and staff. You can follow the same processes as outlined above to give us a compliment. Any compliments related to individual staff and staff teams are forwarded to them appropriately and recognised.

For more information, see our Complaint, Concern, Grievance Policy.