How to access early intervention support via the NDIS

Happy laughing mother and little daughter using laptop.

According to the latest NDIS Quarterly report, there are currently over 11,500 children receiving early intervention support under the scheme. If you are a parent of a very young child with a disability, or if you observe that your child is experiencing developmental delay, early intervention support reduces the possible need for longer-term intervention and will support them towards leading an ordinary life. We take a look at NDIS pathways that can give you to access the support you need.

As reported here in The Conversation, over 277,000 people have already benefited from the NDIS. However, there remains some well-documented teething problems, many of which are related to long waits for services. Parents of kids with disability will understand the importance of early intervention and for these kids, there is no acceptable time to wait. The NDIS has recognised this with the Early Childhood Early Intervention (ECEI) program, developed for families that need support right now.

How does the NDIS address early intervention needs?

According to the Raising Children Network, the Early Childhood Early Intervention (ECEI) approach gives families of kids aged 0-6 quick access to services that are tailored to their needs and addresses the areas where they have demonstrated they need the most support.

The support is designed to build on the strengths and capacity of the family and home environment and can take the form of: 

  • information or emotional support for families;
  • referral to other services like community health services, playgroups or peer support groups; or,
  • sessions with early childhood early intervention providers in the short or medium term.

If it is apparent that the child will require long term support, they may also receive an individualised NDIS plan. Importantly, this support does not require the child to have a specific diagnosis. Rather, it can be provided at the presentation of developmental delays that might require further investigation.

Here’s a video from The Raising Children Network that provides an introduction to the intention of the ECEI approach.

How can families access Early Intervention services via the NDIS?

You can visit the NDIS website to access their five-step guide on how to access services under this program. We’ve also summarised them for you below:Y

Step 1: The first step is to contact an Early Childhood Partner in your local area. You can search for the closest ECEI Partner at this link. ECEI Partners are external organisations who have been contracted by the NDIS to help you identify what support families require and connect you with those supports in your community. 

Step 2: At the next step, the ECEI partner will work with you to provide information on how support would be tailored to the needs of your child. 

Step 3: You’ll then be connected with the most appropriate supports in your area, such as a community health centre, an educational setting or playgroup. Some short-term early intervention will be provided where identified as appropriate.

Step 4: You will then be referred to services available to help your child achieve their goals. This could include:

  • How you can access supports and services in your local community.
  • Short-term early intervention supports if suitable.
  • Help to access the NDIS if longer-term support is required.

Step 5: Part of your ECEI partner’s role is to work with you to monitor your child’s progress and make adjustments to support you are receiving.

New Minister announces six month plan to address any ECEI delays

Earlier this month, Disability Support Guide reported on the new Minister for the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), Stuart Robert’s announcement of a number of initiatives to be implemented over the next six months to resolve any early intervention delays. These include: 

  • Working with ECEI Partners to secure additional resources.
  • A new standardised interim plan for $10,000 for new participants who are not categorised as complex.
  • Funding package for those transferring from an existing Commonwealth, state or territory disability program will reflect existing support levels.
  • A standardised interim plan for six months for kids who have been found eligible for the NDIS, but are likely to experience a wait time for getting plan of greater than 50 days.
  • Those with complex support needs will immediately be streamed to an NDIA Early Childhood specialist to develop their plan and appropriate funding package.
  • Additional support for ECEI Partners in areas experiencing delays.

For more information on how you can access ECEI, visit NDIS.gov.au, or phone 1800 800 110. For people with hearing or speech loss, phone TTY on 1800 555 727 or Speak and Listen on 1800 555 727. People who need help with English can call the Translating and Interpreting Service on 131 450.