Early intervention services are a form of specialised support for young children who have disability or additional learning needs and their families.
Early Intervention is family-centred. Support services will work in partnership with you to achieve the best results for your child.
It aims to give your child the best possible start in life, promoting your child's development, your child taking part in your local community, and your whole family’s wellbeing.
One way you can access early supports for your child is through the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).
There are also some early intervention supports available through the NSW Department of Education, although most early intervention is provided by professionals and agencies outside the department.
Early intervention support through the NDIS
NDIS Early Childhood Partners can help you access support services in your local community.
You may not know if your child has a disability or a delay, or if they’ll need short term or long term support.
No matter what your situation, Early Childhood Partners will be able to support you and put you in touch with services that can help you and your child.
Your Early Childhood Partner will be able to link you to support in your local community, including short term early intervention support if that is what is best for your child.
If your child needs longer term early intervention, your Early Childhood Partner can help you to apply for NDIS access.
Find out more about NDIS Early Childhood Partners at the NDIS website
Examples of early intervention support
Early intervention services for your child could include:
- speech therapy
- physical therapy
- occupational therapy
- sensory integration therapy
- behavioural therapy
- music therapy
- aqua therapy
- supported playgroups.
The NDIS might provide support in the form of a key worker model - where a team of professionals work to support your child, with one person as the main contact for your family - or through supported playgroups. The support they put you in touch with will depend on what is available in your area.
You may also be recommended some early intervention services by local support groups - such as playgroups - depending on your child’s needs.
Early intervention support available through the NSW Department of Education
The NSW Department of Education’s early intervention support runs alongside any other early intervention, therapies, or early childhood education your child might be receiving.
It works with these other supports and your child’s education providers, and helps to support your child to be a part of the community with more confidence.
Your child can get early intervention support through both the NDIS and the Department of Education at the same time, but they are separate services with different application processes.
If your child is eligible for the Department of Education early intervention, they might be supported by:
- Early intervention support classes, which run at some primary schools
- Early intervention resource support, where an early intervention teacher helps your child at their regular preschool, daycare or playgroup
- A transition support teacher (early intervention), who will work with you and your child to help them transition to primary school.
If your child has vision or hearing loss, you may have already applied for support through your local Education Office. Itinerant Support Teachers (Hearing and Vision) can work with your child from when they are diagnosed to help support their early childhood education.
Early intervention programs will vary across NSW, with each school choosing a model that works best for their local community.
For example, your local school might run a supported playgroup which you might go to with your child.
Early intervention support classes
Early Intervention Support classes are run as two and a half hour sessions, and your child may attend two or three sessions a week.
These classes will have a maximum of eight children with two staff. This smaller, supported environment provides a secure setting for your child to develop new skills. Being able to transfer these skills to their preschool, day care or community is part of the aims of early intervention support.
Early intervention resource support
If your child receives early intervention resource support, they will be given support at their regular childcare, preschool or playgroup. An Itinerant Support Teacher (Early Invention) can work with that service and with you, with your permission.
Early intervention resource support can include:
- regular weekly or fortnightly support for children who do not go to early intervention support classes
- visiting your child's early childhood education service
- transition planning.
Resource support aims to support your child's learning and give them a smooth transition to school.
It also involves working directly with your child’s regular early childhood educators so they can support your child better.
Supporting transition to primary school
The Itinerant support teacher (early invention) might help your child by:
- making sure any physical changes that your child will need at school are in place before they start
- putting together an individual plan for your child’s education with your help
- making sure staff at the school have received the right training
- helping the school to get to know your child and your family.
You might also talk to the Itinerant support teacher (early intervention) about what your child’s learning options are - for example, you may want to find out about support classes or Schools for Specific Purposes (SSPs). It is your decision whether or not to apply for a placement, and they can support you either way.
How to apply for the Department of Education’s early intervention support
You can contact your local school if you would like your child to get early intervention support.
Ask to speak to the school’s learning and support team, or the Learning and Support teacher. Try to get in touch with them in Term 2 of the year before you want your child to get this support.
They can talk to you about what is available in your local area and put in an application for support, with your help.
The school will be able to tell you what paperwork they might need for this application, such as a child development assessment, or a report from an allied health therapist.
A team of experts will look at all the applications and decide on them.
To be eligible for early intervention support classes or early intervention resource support, your child will need to:
- be between three and school age
- have an identified delay or a diagnosis.
As the number of children applying for places in early intervention support classes might vary from year to year, the department cannot guarantee that every child will be able to get a place. Priority is normally given to children who will be going to school in the next year.