Early intervention support and inclusion for children with disability
Every child, regardless of their needs, has the right to participate fully in their community and to have the same choices, opportunities and experiences as other children. Additional supports may be provided to children with disability and their families to help them participate in an inclusive society that enables them to fulfill their potential.
Research shows that providing support early is linked with improved outcomes for children with disability, particularly when support is provided in the child's natural environments.
To find supports that suit your family's needs, including early childhood intervention services, contact services in your local community or your local Information, and Referral Service.
You can also contact Parent Line NSW, a telephone counselling, information, referral and support service for parents and carers of children aged 0-18 years in NSW. Parent Line is operated by CatholicCare and operates Monday to Friday from 9am to 9pm and on weekends from 4pm to 9pm. Phone 1300 1300 52 or see the Parent Line website.
Early Links Coordinators provide a range of supports for families of children with disability or developmental delay during the time of diagnosis or while awaiting diagnosis, including information and assistance to access mainstream and specialist services that are best suited to achieving your family's goals.
To find your local Early Links provider to access support from Early Links Coordinators, contact:
- St Vincent de Paul Society on 02 4905 0700 - covering the Central Coast and Hunter areas
- Northcott Society on 02 9890 0100 - covering Cumberland/Prospect, Nepean, Northern Sydney, Far North Coast, Mid North Coast and New England areas.
- CareWest on 1300 227 393 - covering Central West, Far West and the Riverina-Murray areas.
- Mission Australia on 02 4824 4000 - covering Illawarra and the Southern Highlands areas.
- Lifestart Co-operative Ltd on (02) 9364 0111 - covering South Eastern Sydney and South Western Sydney Districts
- Plumtree (formerly Pathways Early Childhood Intervention Inc) on 02 9572 8840 - covering Sydney District
The Raising Children Network website offers current, research-based material to support parents in the day-to-day work of raising children and looking after their own needs. The website covers a broad range of parenting topics, such as:
- Child development and behaviour
- Health, nutrition and fitness
- Play and learning
- Connecting and communicating
- School and education
- Entertainment and technology
- Sleep and safety
You can contact the Australian Government's 'A Better Start' program and 'Helping Children with Autism' program which provide funding for early intervention services and support for eligible children. Phone the Better Start Helpline on 1800 778 581, and the Autism Advisor Program on 1300 978 611.
For more information on Australian Government programs, services and benefits visit the Department of Social Services website.
For information on supports available for students with disability from early childhood through to leaving high school, go to the Department of Education website.
What support is available for children and families?
If you are concerned about your child's development, it is important to get help early to give your child the best start possible.
There are a range of supports available for young children with developmental delay or disability and their families, ranging from prevention and early intervention to more intensive supports. Some of these supports include:
- Support at the time of diagnosis
- Early childhood intervention
- Social and support networks
- Therapy supports
- Intensive family supports
- Case management
If your child needs additional support, they should be able to access this through their natural everyday environments and routines, such as at home or in early childcare settings. To give children the best start they can have it is important to access these supports as early as possible.
Early childhood intervention support can assist you with helping your child and support a range of services your child may access, such as playgroups, preschools and child care centres. These services may also provide:
- Information and support for families to find out about their child's disability and needs
- Support for children with disability's inclusion in their everyday environments by working with early childhood services and other community organisations
- Formal and informal family support, including emotional support
- Therapy, such as speech pathology, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, and/or psychology
- Information and support for:
- transition into school settings
- connecting with other parents, service providers and the local community
Support can be provided in a variety of settings including preschools, child care centres, or at a specialist early intervention program.
ADHC has funded the Transition to School Resource aimed at providing a smoother transition to school for children with disability and their families, carers, early childhood intervention, education and care services, as well as school and community organisations. The Resource, developed by Early Childhood Intervention Australia (NSW Chapter), helps all those involved to better plan for the transition, and provides guidelines on how to make the process more inclusive for everyone.
Support for children, young people and their families
There are a number of broad reforms occurring in the education, early childhood and disability sectors in NSW which all promote the inclusion of children with disability in mainstream settings. For service providers, the reforms represent a shift in the way that mainstream and specialist support services work together to support the needs of children with disability and their families.
0 - 8 strategy
The Strengthening supports for children and families 0 to 8 years reform strategy (2013) and Now and into the future (2015) paper are ADHC's commitment to improve and reform the provision of supports for children with disability and their families.
Read more about the 0-8 strategy and paper.
Early childhood intervention services
Early childhood intervention services provide a broad range of support for children with disability and their families.
These services support young children and their families to be active members of their community through the provision of therapies, learning and play based activities, and opportunities to interact with peers.
Services also support and empower families through the provision of training, information, referral and support coordination, and help families to develop formal and informal networks.
Early childhood intervention services may be provided in the places in the community that every young child would access, for example preschools and child care settings.
Early childhood intervention programs are encouraged to adopt:
- Family-centred approaches
- Collaborative service partnerships
- Inclusive service delivery
- Improved access and culturally appropriate and respectful approaches
- Strengths-based approaches
Early childhood education and care support
Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) refers to universal support and programs provided to children in the years prior to full-time schooling. ECEC is available for all children, and includes non-government and government run preschools, community and local government child care, long day care, family day care and home-based care.
Leaving Care Program
The Leaving Care Program supports young people with a disability to transition from the parental responsibility of the Minister for Community Services and to live as independently as possible.
Read more about Leaving Care Program, including transition planning, case management, accommodation support, skills development and mentoring services.