Help is available if you're concerned your child isn’t meeting milestones. The NDIS Early Childhood Approach (ECA) supports children aged 0-9 years, who have a disability or developmental delay and their parents or carers. The Benevolent Society is the NDIS Partner delivering the ECA to the Queensland suburbs of Moreton Bay, Brisbane, Logan and Redlands.  

Carla (pictured below), one of our ECA Community & Child Development Specialists, says the ECA tailors support to children’s individual needs and circumstances. 

“It’s for children with developmental concerns in one or more of their developmental domains (social, emotional, physical, language and communication, cognitive and self-care) that require support from a team of professionals and also children already diagnosed with a disability,” she says.

Carla smiling

Helping families 

Many families grapple with information overload during the initial application process.  

“The majority of families are thrown a lot of information in a short period of time and quite often they are not able to process all the information they are given,” Carla says. “This is why we encourage any follow up questions they may have after any of our meetings, either via phone or email.  
“Some families can be in shock if they receive a diagnosis they were not expecting or had any indication that this may be the case; these can often occur at the birth of a child, or later at a check up with a GP or Paediatrician.”  

Breaking it down  

To help families better understand the process, Carla has answered  some commonly asked questions.  
What is the process of applying and what are some helpful tips for applicants?  

“Once we receive a referral - whether it be directly from the family, the childcare or GP - our intake team contact the family to book an initial assessment with them,” Carla says.   

“This will assist with determining the best pathway and supports that will be suited to that individual child and family. During this meeting it is determined by our qualified staff whether they meet the criteria fora funded support plan to access providers, access to early supports with our team or support to access community and other government supports to assist the child with further developing across their developmental domains.   

“If it is determined that the child may meet the criteria for a funded support plan, we support the family through the process of applying for access to the NDIS and then a planning meeting will be booked in with one of our child development specialists.”   

If you have a funded support plan, what can the funding be used for and how is the budget determined?  

 “Each plan is individually catered for the specific child and their needs. Funding is calculated from functional impact of the developmental delay or disability across the settings they live and play in daily life. 

“Supports accessed with the NDIS funding must be related to a participant’s disability, must not include day-to-day living costs not related to your disability support needs, such as groceries; should represent value for money; must be likely to be effective and work for the participant; and should take into account support given to you by other government services, your family, carers, networks and the community. “Every NDIS participant has an individual plan that lists their goals and the funding they have received. NDIS participants use their funding to purchase supports and services that will help them pursue their goals.   

“Funding across the NDIS is very different depending on the age of the participants; it takes into account what is expected of a child at that age to be responsible for, so for example, they most likely won’t fund a cleaner, transport or lawn mowing, in a participants plan in the Early Childhood Approach. It is always best to seek advice from your key worker, if whether a support would be funded by the NDIS.”  
What kind of early supports does the ECA program deliver for children 0-6 years?  

“In early supports, our staff work alongside families to get to know them and their child; help them to understand their child’s support needs; develop goals for the child and family to work towards and support the family and child to work together towards reaching those goals.  

“Early supports can be delivered in a group or individual format and always takes place in a child’s natural settings, for example their home or childcare. We have a range of allied health in our team including speech pathologists, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, social workers and early childhood educators.  

“We use a keyworker model to deliver early supports which means families are allocated a key person who coordinates the sharing of information and supports from the team. We actively involve parents and caregivers in sessions so strategies can be used at home and in the community.” 
What are some myths you hope to dispel about the process?   

“Quite often families think that they need to have a diagnosis or extensive reports to access the NDIS, they are often unaware that if there is substantially reduced capacity across their child’s developmental domains that they can potentially have access to either Early Supports or a funded plan. You do not need a GP referral you can self-refer via the website.   

“Providers will often recommend supports for your child that will not always meet the criteria to be funded by the NDIS; some supports will have to be funded by the families. “Although a provider will recommend supports/therapy this then needs to be measured with the child’s functional capacity across their developmental domains to determine if the level of intervention will meet the criteria to be funded by the NDIS.”  

Our Allied Health Team host free webinars for families throughout the year covering a variety of topics, such as understanding developmental supports and advocating for your child. We also run Family Connections Playgroups across Moreton Bay, Brisbane, Logan and Redlands that are free to attend and a great way for families and children to connect with one another and learn more about the NDIS and their community. 

You can stay up to date with session details and find more information about the early childhood approach on its Facebook page. 

For more information on our NDIS Early Childhood Approach (ECA), click here or call 1800 236 762.