For the first time, a nationally-consistent approach to supporting children with developmental delay or disability will exist with the release today of the National Disability Insurance Scheme’s (NDIS) Early Childhood Early Intervention (ECEI) Approach.
The National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) has worked with some of Australia’s leading early childhood intervention practitioners and researchers to design a best-practice approach that is family-centred and importantly, supports children to achieve good outcomes on a case-by-case basis.
NDIA Chief Executive Officer, David Bowen said early intervention was an important part of the NDIS.
"Evidence shows that timely support for a child with developmental delay before the age of six can significantly change that child’s developmental trajectory and overall quality of life," Mr Bowen said.
"The NDIS Early Intervention Early Childhood Approach is focused on inclusion, with children supported in a range of mainstream early childhood settings such as preschool and play group, meaning increased opportunities to learn and develop positive social relationships.
"The short, medium and long-term benefits to children from such support are proven to be significant. Effective early intervention also reduces the medium to long-term liability on the NDIS."
Under the ECEI approach, a child and their family will be referred to a specialist early childhood access partner who will discuss their needs and determine the appropriate supports to help them achieve their individual goals. Supports may include information services, emotional support or referral to mainstream services, or longer-term more intensive supports as part of a funded NDIS plan.
Mr Bowen said the ECEI approach was in line with the individual nature of the Scheme.
"The whole premise behind the NDIS is that each person is treated as an individual, receiving support to meet their unique set of needs, wants and goals to achieve the best outcome for them," Mr Bowen said.
"Exactly what that will look like for each child and their family will vary. The level and nature of supports is tailored to meet the individual needs of the child and their family, regardless of diagnosis.
The ECEI approach is currently being trialled in the Nepean Blue Mountains region. It will be rolled out nationally, in line with the arrangements in the bilateral agreements between the Commonwealth and state and territory governments.