As the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) is rolling out across Australia, many parents have been left with questions about how the changes will affect their young children. The Early Childhood Early Intervention (ECEI) has been put in place to provide disability support for children from birth to their seventh birthday. The program is designed to give parents access to targeted disability support to help their child's development during this critical period. Here are four key things you need to know to make the most of ECEI.
Your Early Childhood Partner and you
An Early Childhood Partner provides the link between families and the services they need. Your Early Childhood Partner will meet with your family to identify what your unique situation is and what disability support can be provided to help maximise your child's development and quality of life. They provide both screening and support to plan a program of support to meet your child's needs. From here, they will link you in with appropriate support for your child and the whole family, as well as touch base for regular reviews to see how your child is progressing.
Community support is key
The NDIS recognises that disabled individuals are members of their community, and that assistance must come from the community as well as formal disability support such as careers or allied health. Your Early Childhood Partner will usually link you and your child with community groups who can provide you with the skills needed to help your child's development. This may involve meeting with other parents of children facing similar challenges so that you can all learn new skills together, or perhaps linking your child in with local playgroups or child care who can help your child to thrive. Peer support like this is crucial both in providing social support to your whole family and in helping your child become an important part of the community they live in.
Understanding individualised support plans
Your Early Childhood Partner may recommend your child has an individualised support plan. This plan means they can access allied health or carers under the NDIS. You will not only get a list of what supports are necessary but also information about local providers who can give your child the support they need. It's important to consider what your family and your child needs when you choose your disability support provider so that you can develop a good working relationship with them. Early Childhood Intervention Australia has developed guidelines to help families choose disability support providers. You'll want to find a provider who can work with your family no matter what your cultural background, family situation or goals may be.
Disability support providers have been working hard to develop links with local NDIS offices as the new system rolls out across the country. If your child is already receiving support talk to your support providers about how to ensure you don't miss out on critical services during the transition.
If you want to offer your disabled child the best chance in life, you may be looking for ways to give them access to the healthcare and education they need. Unfortunately, the mainstream healthcare and educations systems are not designed to meet the needs of disabled children. This is where specialist disability services come in. When I was seeking additional support for my disabled child, my friend suggested that I contact a local disability service. The staff at the service were really helpful and I have now enrolled my son at a school and signed him up for additional support.