Who can support your child?
Your child can be supported in their early childhood education by a range of different services.
Allied health services
Allied health professionals are generally people other than doctors and nurses who work with patients in the medical field. They might treat your child in hospital, at their own private practice, in a community health centre, or in your home.
They can include:
- speech pathologists
- social workers
Your child will often be referred to these services by your regular GP or paediatrician. Nearly all allied health professionals are registered with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation agency.
Child and family health centres
Child and family health centres have nurses and other health professionals who specialise in child and family health.
This free community healthcare service can give you information about caring for your baby or young child and tell you about other support services. You can take your child to these centres to check their development and test for some conditions.
You will be given information about your local Child and Family Health Centre by the hospital where your child was born, or you can refer to the NSW Health services map to find a Centre near you.
You can find out more about family and child health services, family care cottages and residential family care services at NSW Health.
The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS)
The NDIS has been set up to fund support services for people with disability in Australia. It is managed by the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA).
Your first point of contact with the NDIS for your child is your local Early childhood partner. They will be able to put you in touch with support for your child in your local community. This support could include group programs, supported playgroups, or parenting programs.
Your child does not need a diagnosis to receive short-term support through an NDIS Early childhood partner. Children under 7 do not need a formal diagnosis to get long term support through the NDIS, but they do need evidence of disability or a global delay.
The Department of Education offers some early intervention services, including early intervention classes and early intervention support in your child’s regular early childhood education service.
The department is committed to providing an inclusive education to all students with disability or additional learning and support needs. Your child will be supported in early childhood education services provided through the department and at their local public school.
It is never too early or too late to speak to your local public school about support for your child.
Preschools are specifically designed to support your child’s education and their transition into school. They also help your child improve their social, communication, fine and gross motor skills.
All children in preschools have individual plans designed around their individual needs, including any needs relating to disability. Your child’s preschool can put in place adjustments to support your child’s learning so they can participate in their education at the same level as all other children. Preschools can apply for funding to help support children with disability.
Your child might also get extra support to help them with eating, toileting or group activities. If they are eligible for the department’s early intervention support, an Itinerant Support Teacher might work with educators and carers at their preschool to help them support your child better.
Long day care
Long day care services operate in a similar way to preschools - the main difference being that they are open for longer hours during the day and will open during school holidays. All children attending long day care services will have individual plans designed around their individual needs, including any needs relating to disability.
Services including long day care centres and family day care can access funding to help them provide support for children with disability or additional learning needs, so they can participate in their education at the same level as all other children.
These services can also put in adjustments to help your child have the same access to activities as all other children. If your child is eligible for the department’s early intervention support, an Itinerant Support teacher can also work with the carers at their daycare.
Supported playgroups allow parents and carers and their children to get together in a social setting with a paid facilitator who works to support families with particular needs.
These playgroups give you the chance to talk to other parents in a similar situation and give your child new opportunities to learn.
You might be referred to a supported playgroup by an NDIS Early Childhood Partner or another support service.
The Raising Children website, which is supported by the Department of Social Services, has a detailed guide to services for children and young people with disability and additional learning needs. This includes information on therapies for specific disabilities.