Ageing, Disability & Home Care

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.

Finding supports

To find supports that suit your family’s needs, including early childhood intervention services, contact services in your local community or your local ADHC Information, Referral and Intake 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 access support from Early Links Coordinators, you can contact:

  • St Vincent de Paul Society on 02 4905 0700 – covering the Central Coast and Hunter areas
  • Northcott 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.
  • Learning Links on 02 8568 8200  covering the Inner West, South East Sydney, South West Sydney areas.

The Raising Children Network website offers up-to-date, 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, 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 and Communities 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, including support at the time of diagnosis, early childhood intervention, social and support networks, therapy supports, intensive family supports, case management and respite.

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 also by supporting a range of services your child may be accessing 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
  • education, and
  • 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 a Resource aimed at providing a smoother transition to school for children with disability and their families, carers, early childhood intervention and education and care services, 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. 

Additional Resources

Read more about ADHC’s strategy to increase support and inclusive pathways for children with disabilities aged 0 – 8 years and their families in the:

In late 2013 ADHC engaged The University of Sydney to review literature relating to the provision of clinical supports to children 0 – 8 years and their families in natural everyday (mainstream) environments that promote inclusion. The literature review focused on identifying:

  • best practice for promoting the inclusion of young people and their families
  • benefits and outcomes of inclusion-based approaches
  • key factors in the effective provision of inclusion-based approaches
  • barriers and challenges to inclusion-based approaches

A copy of the final report is available at:

Case studies about inclusion:

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