Early childhood

There are many types of early childhood services available. NSW public schools provide a small component of those provided by other government and non-government agencies. Use the Child Care Finder website to search for an early childhood education and care service.

NSW public schools provide support through:

  • preschool classes in mainstream schools for all children including those with disability and additional learning and support needs
  • early intervention class or resource support programs for children with confirmed disability from the age of three to school entry
  • early intervention teachers – called itinerant support teachers (early intervention) – who are available to support children with disability or significant support needs and their families and teachers prior to school and in transition to preschool or kindergarten in a NSW public school.

By offering positive experiences prior to starting school, early childhood services promote inclusion and help provide a secure foundation for the future.

Support for children with disability

The Department recognises that young children with disability and additional learning and support needs require extra support prior to starting school.

The Department uses disability criteria to determine eligibility for additional support in early intervention classes and resource support. In most cases a medical practitioner or other qualified professional must confirm a disability.

The identification of children with intellectual disability can be undertaken either by the department's School Counselling Service or by an external registered psychologist with clinical experience

Early intervention classes

A limited number of early intervention centres are located in NSW public schools and operate during school terms. Children with a confirmed disability from 3 years of age to school entry are eligible to apply.

There are two main support programs provided by early intervention

  • Early Intervention support class where children usually attend for 2.5 hour sessions, two to three days a week. Class sizes range from five to eight children and children are aged between three and six years.
  • Early intervention resource support where the early intervention teacher travels to child care centres or preschools to provide support.

Early intervention teachers work in partnership with parents and carers and other support agencies to plan personalised learning and support, based on the child's individual interests and personal care, health, social and wellbeing needs.
Use the ‘Information for Specialist Support’ link located at the bottom of School Finder to find an Early Intervention class or contact your local Public School.

Itinerant support teachers

A limited number of itinerant support teachers (early intervention) provide support to young children with disability or complex support needs as they transition to school or a Department early intervention program.

Itinerant support teachers (early intervention) support local schools to:

  • develop individual, coordinated transition plans to support children moving from early education into school
  • establish and maintain links with a range of local services in the community.

Itinerant support teachers (hearing or vision) provide support to children who are Deaf / Hard of hearing or Blind or with Low Vision. This service is available from the age of diagnosis.

Access to support

Access to early intervention classes and resource support occurs through the placement panel process.

Access to itinerant support teachers (early intervention) is via referral from the local schools, early childhood education service, early intervention providers, allied health or therapy services.

Parents and carers should contact their local public school or their local School Services team to facilitate these processes.

Local teams can be contacted on 131 536 and calls can be made from anywhere in NSW.

As the Department works in close consultation with a range of early childhood services, other agencies may also refer parents and carers to our schools.

Parentline

Parentline operate a free early childhood intervention infoline for parents and carers who have children with disability. Free information, referral to services and general support and counselling is available by calling 1300 1300 52. Calls can be made from anywhere in NSW.

Guides for parents and carers

Starting early education

An introduction to early intervention services

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