If you’re concerned about the development of a child under seven, help is available. Our friends at Australia’s leading plan manager Leap in! answer some common questions about how early connections work and the types of support available for children and families.
Q What are early connections?
Early connections are designed to support children younger than seven with a disability or developmental delays, as well as their families and carers, as part of Australia’s new early childhood approach.
Early intervention helps ensure children get the proper support to achieve the best possible outcomes throughout life.
This best practice approach is designed to connect children and their families with early support and information to develop capacity and improve the child’s opportunities.
Q Are early connections the same as the NDIS?
The NDIS funds early connections but children don’t need to be on the NDIS to access these supports.
Early connections are available more broadly than the NDIS and don’t take into account citizenship or visa status.
Q I’m concerned about my child’s development, but we haven’t received a diagnosis yet. Are we eligible for early connections?
Children under six with developmental concerns do not need a formal diagnosis to be eligible for early connections. Children under seven with global developmental delays or disabilities are also eligible.
Q Can you explain what is meant by “developmental concerns”?
In simple terms, it refers to any uncertainty or concern you may have about your child’s development. You may have noticed your child struggling to complete activities compared with other children of the same age, or you may have observed differences in how they play, move, take care of themselves, socialise or communicate compared with other children their age.
Q How can my family access early connections?
If you have concerns about your child’s development, speak to a health or education professional such as your GP, occupational therapist, child health care nurse, or early childhood educator.
They can connect you with an early childhood partner (ECP), an organisation with experience and clinical expertise in working with young children with developmental concerns or disability and their families. You can also contact an ECP yourself. No referral or diagnosis is needed.
Q I’m not sure where to start when it comes to assessments and therapy Can early connections help?
The role of an early childhood partner (ECP) is to provide your child and family with tailored assistance and support.
An ECP uses observation in familiar settings to understand how the child plays, communicates and helps take care of themselves. They may also use assessment tools to learn more about the child’s development.
They will help set priorities and goals for the child alongside the family and then connect you with services, information, other families, and any other resources you need.
Q What supports and services are available through early connections? Is there a fee?
Early connections can connect you with early childhood services, paediatricians, health services, family support services, and support networks in your community.
ECP teams often include occupational therapists, psychologists, physiotherapists, speech therapists and other allied health professionals, making it much easier to connect with professionals who can help.
The early childhood approach and working with an ECP is free. Charges may apply for assessments, programs or other related consultations with other healthcare professionals.
Q How can I get help if we decide to apply for the NDIS?
An ECP can help you decide whether to apply for the NDIS and support you through the access request process.
Leap in! has also released a new eBook, Accessing the NDIS: A Guide to eligibility and how to apply. If you’re unsure where to start, this eBook is for you.
If you’re a parent of a child with a disability trying to navigate the NDIS, Leap in! is here to help. Leap in! can answer your questions and provide advice for getting the most from your child’s NDIS Plan.
To read a copy of the eBook, head to leapin.com.au/wp-content/uploads/Leap-in-eBook-Accessing-the-NDIS.pdf
DO YOU HAVE A QUESTION YOU’D LIKE US TO ANSWER IN THE NEXT EDITION OF SOURCE KIDS? WE’D LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU. SEND YOUR QUESTION TO [email protected]