Early intervention for children
If you are concerned about your child’s development, it is important to get help early.
Different types of early childhood intervention services are available to support young children with developmental delay or disability, from birth up to (but not including) 6 years of age.Because families are central in the lives of young children, these services will also assist you in helping your child, and supporting a range of services in the community such as playgroups, preschools and day care centres that your child may attend.
Early childhood intervention
Early childhood intervention aims to give a child the best start they can have by providing support as early as possible.
Research shows that early intervention is linked with improved outcomes for children with disability, particularly those that support both the child and family in the child’s natural environments.
Your child may be assisted through early childhood intervention in a range of settings, such as preschool, child care or at a specialist early intervention program.
Early childhood intervention services provide specialised support and services for infants and young children with developmental delay or disability. These services can include therapy, education, inclusion support in early childhood services, formal and informal family support, and the provision of information and support for transition into school systems.
How can early childhood intervention help families?
Early childhood intervention services can help you to find out about your child’s disability and needs, and support you to help your child learn new skills. An early childhood intervention specialist can work with you and your child to develop a plan that will identify the things that you consider important for your child. The plan may include:
- developmental and learning activities
- opportunities to interact with other children
- play based activities to develop new skills
They can also give you information and help you to connect with other professionals in the community such as staff in preschool and child care settings, psychologists, case managers, speech pathologists, educators, physiotherapists and occupational therapists if needed.
Getting support to be involved in the activities and experiences that all children and families enjoy will help your child to connect with other children and to learn new skills.
Parents are also supported to develop networks with other parents, health professionals, service providers and their local community.
Finding early intervention services
You can contact your local ADHC Information, Referral and Intake Service or your early childhood intervention service provider.
You can also contact Parent Line NSW. This is 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 24 hours, seven days per week. Phone 1300 1300 52 or see the Parent Line website at www.parentline.org.au. Parent Line NSW can assist you to find a local early intervention service.
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 Autism Advisor Program on 1300 978 611,
Families in NSW can also contact Diagnosis Support Workers who provide a range of supports for families of children with disability or developmental delay during the time of diagnosis. This support includes information and assistance to access mainstream and disability specific services that are best suited to achieving your family’s goals. You can contact:
- Northcott on 02 9890 0100 - covering the Central Coast, Hunter, 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 area.
- Mission Australia on 02 4824 4000 - covering Illawarra and the Southern Highlands.
- Learning Links on 8568 8200 - covering the Inner West, South East Sydney, South West Sydney.