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Early childhood intervention

7-minute read

Key facts

  • Early childhood intervention provides support for infants and young children with disability or developmental delay.
  • Early intervention can support your child's development and wellbeing.
  • Early childhood intervention services can tailor therapy for your child's and family's needs.
  • The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) can help eligible children and their families access services and find support.
  • An early childhood intervention partner can link you to support services even if your child isn't eligible through the NDIS.

What is early childhood intervention?

Early childhood intervention provides support for infants and young children with disability or developmental delay.

Early intervention is tailored to your child's needs, to promote their:

  • development
  • well-being
  • community participation

Early childhood intervention includes many services that can support your child from birth to school entry. They also provide education to parents, carers and families so that you can:

  • meet your child's needs
  • build your child's strengths
  • help your child develop new skills
  • support your child to engage with experiences and activities

Across Australia, funded early childhood intervention is provided through the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) for eligible children.

What are the benefits of early childhood intervention?

Early childhood is an important time in your child's life that can impact their growth and development. It can impact their life, even when they are adults.

Benefits for my child

If your child has a disability or developmental delay, early intervention can help them get the best start in life. The earlier your child can access appropriate intervention, the better the outcome is likely to be.

High quality early childhood support services can give your child important opportunities to:

  • learn and develop skills in particular areas
  • make friends
  • develop independence
  • learn new routines

An early childhood intervention support program can also:

assess your child's progress at regular intervals

  • create a supportive environment where your child feels comfortable
  • support your child's inclusion and participation at preschool or other early education settings
  • prepare your child for primary school
  • create opportunities for your child to meet other children who don't have a disability

Benefits for my family

Early childhood is also a critical time for your whole family. This is when your family can best begin to learn:

  • about your child's strengths and interests
  • how to support and nurture your child
  • how to meet their needs
  • how to adapt to having a child with a disability or a developmental delay

Early childhood intervention support services can tailor therapy options to suit both your child's and family's needs.

How can I access early childhood intervention?

If your child needs early intervention, the first step is to speak with an 'Early Childhood Intervention Partner'. They are often professionals with experience in disability support.

They can:

  • talk with you about which support services are best for your child
  • give you information about support services, including mainstream services like preschool
  • refer you to support services in your community
  • help you find an early childhood intervention provider or program
  • help you apply for funded early intervention through the NDIS

You can find your nearest early childhood intervention partner through the NDIS.

If there are no early childhood intervention partners in your area, you can start by speaking to your child's:

  • doctor
  • child health nurse
  • early childhood educator

You can also contact the NDIS directly. See the Resources and Support section at the end of this article for more information.

Is my child eligible for NDIS early intervention?

You may be able to receive funded early intervention if your child is eligible through the NDIS.

Your child's eligibility for a certain early intervention service will depend on:

  • your child's age
  • if they have a developmental delay that's likely to be permanent
  • if early intervention will help them need less support as they grow
  • if they can access support outside of the NDIS, such as through school or your local hospital

To receive funded early intervention, your child must also meet certain citizenship and residency requirements.

The first step to applying for NDIS early intervention is to fill out an Access Request Form. Your Early Childhood Intervention Partner can help you with this. If you are not eligible, they can still help you access supports and services.

You can also ask the NDIS to review their eligibility decision.

What are early childhood intervention services?

Early childhood intervention services can include:

  • special education
  • therapy
  • parent education
  • planning and coordinating different services

You can access early childhood intervention services in many locations, including:

  • hospitals
  • community health services
  • private clinics
  • your child's preschool

Your early childhood intervention partner can help you find services that best suit your child.

Choosing an early childhood intervention service

Not every service will suit all children. Every child will respond to their early intervention therapy in a different way.

The most important thing is to focus on what best suits your child and your family, which will depend on:

  • your child's age
  • your child's developmental needs
  • your child's health care needs
  • where you live
  • your religious and cultural needs

An early childhood intervention partner can help with this.

Resources and Support

To learn more about early childhood intervention, you can visit Reimagine Australia.

To learn more about financial support for early childhood intervention, you can visit the NDIS website or call on 1800 800 110.

Through the NDIS you can also:

Reimagine Australia is the leading national body for Early Childhood Intervention and provides best practice guidelines for services and families.

Speak to a maternal child health nurse

Call Pregnancy, Birth and Baby to speak to a maternal child health nurse on 1800 882 436 or video call. Available 7am to midnight (AET), 7 days a week.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: June 2023

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Need more information?

Early Childhood Intervention - Cerebral Palsy Alliance

Read more on Cerebral Palsy Alliance website

Disability services & support | Raising Children Network

Need help with child disability services? Here are articles and videos about services and support, working with professionals, and early interventions.

Read more on website

What is the key worker approach? | Autism: What next?

A key worker is an early childhood intervention professional who is the main person working alongside the family/carer to support a child’s progress towards their early intervention goals. The key worker model includes a whole team of early childhood therapists and professionals who through the key worker, provide intervention in a range of learning areas. The key worker practices from a strengths-based, family-centred perspective.

Read more on Autism Awareness Australia website

Kabuki syndrome: signs, diagnosis, support | Raising Children Network

Kabuki syndrome causes intellectual disability and developmental delay. If your child has Kabuki syndrome, early intervention can make a big difference.

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The NDIS approach to early intervention | Raising Children Network

This video explains how the NDIS manages early intervention for children with disability. It ensures families get quick support to meet children’s needs.

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Early childhood services | Limbs 4 Kids

Early childhood services Infants and young children with limb differences and their families are generally entitled to early childhood intervention services

Read more on Limbs 4 Kids website

NDIS pathways to early intervention | Raising Children Network

In this video about the NDIS, parents describe pathways to NDIS support. The aim is to get young children into early intervention as quickly as possible.

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Williams syndrome: diagnosis & support | Raising Children Network

What is Williams syndrome? This guide covers signs, symptoms and diagnosis in children, plus early intervention funding for children with Williams syndrome.

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Therapies for preschoolers | Autism Awareness Australia

All of our kids deserve a loving and welcoming educational setting, as do their parents

Read more on Autism Awareness Australia website

Down syndrome in children: a guide | Raising Children Network

Down syndrome causes intellectual disability and other challenges. Early intervention can help children with Down syndrome reach their full potential.

Read more on website

Call us and speak to a Maternal Child Health Nurse for personal advice and guidance.

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