Autism Specific Early Learning and Care Centres - Questions and Answers

General

  1. Where are the Autism Specific Early Learning and Care Centres located and who are they managed by?
  2. What is the purpose of the centres?
  3. Why have the Australian Capital Territory and Northern Territory missed out?
  4. How many children can attend each centre?
  5. How can I obtain further information about the centres?

Parents and Carers

  1. Is my child eligible to attend one of the Autism Specific Early Learning and Care Centres?
  2. Can I use my Helping Children with Autism funding package at an Autism Specific Early Learning and Care Centre?
  3. Will the Autism Specific Early Learning and Care Centres follow best practice in the autism field?
  4. Will service delivery in the Autism Specific Early Learning and Care Centres be based on Applied Behavioural Analysis (ABA)?
  5. How do I enrol my child in one of the Autism Specific Early Learning and Care Centres?

General

1. Where are the Autism Specific Early Learning and Care Centres located and who are they managed by?

Location Service Name Service Provider
South Western Sydney KU Marcia Burgess Autism Specific Early Learning and Care Centre KU Children’s Services
Brisbane Queensland Autism Specific Early Learning and Care Centre – AEIOU for Children with Autism AEIOU Foundation
Adelaide Anglicare – SA, Daphne Street Child Care and Specialist Early Learning Centre Anglicare South Australia Inc
North West Tasmania Alexander Beetle House (North West Tasmania Autism Specific Early Learning and Care Centre) Burnie City Council
Melbourne La Trobe University Community Childrens Centre La Trobe University
Perth Mercy Child Day Care Bedford The Autism Association of Western Australia

[ top ]

2. What is the purpose of the centres?

The Autism Specific Early Learning and Care Centres provide early learning programs and specific support to children aged zero to six years with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) in a long day care setting. They also provide parents with support in the care of their children and give them the opportunity to participate more fully in the community.

Each centre must be an approved long day care centre with the capacity to deliver a minimum of 20 approved child care places for children aged zero to six years with ASDs. They provide an early learning program and specific support that targets the learning and development needs of young children with ASDs and their families. This program will support the participation of children with ASD in child care and early childhood education and their transition to further educational or therapeutic settings.

Centres must be affiliated or in partnership with a relevant university or hospital specialising in paediatric, early childhood or ASD related research or services. Through their affiliations with universities or hospitals, centres must have a research and workforce training component which will contribute to achieving a better understanding of ASDs and increase workforce capacity.

The centres support:

  • The capacity of children with ASDs to participate in child care, early learning and education settings to interact with other children and transition to further educational and therapeutic settings;
  • The capacity of parents and carers of children with ASD to participate in the community and manage the needs of their children with ASD; and
  • The capacity of the ASD Sector to develop strategies to improve access, collaborate to facilitate research and develop best practice and to build workforce capability.

[ top ]

3. Why have the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory missed out?

With the exception of North West Tasmania, which was an election commitment, the selected sites were identified based on ASD child population data. Only those sites that were accessible to high numbers of children with recognised ASDs were selected.

Families with children aged zero to six years with ASDs in the Northern Territory (NT) and the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) will still be able to access existing services for children with ASDs provided by the territory governments and the Australian Government's Helping Children with Autism (HWCA) package, which includes access to autism advisor services, playgroups, individual funding for early intervention (for eligible children) and education and support services.

The Australian Government understands the need to work with the ACT and NT and will work closely with these governments to further build support services for children with ASDs, particularly those in remote and Indigenous communities.

4. How many children can attend each centre?

Each centre is an approved long day care centre with the capacity to deliver a minimum of 20 approved child care places for children aged zero to six years with ASDs and ASD like symptoms.

5. How can I obtain further information about the centres?

Further information is available on the DSS Website.

For information on the Early Learning and Care Centres, visit the Department of Education Early Learning and Care Centres Information page.

[ top ]

Parents and Carers

6. Is my child eligible to attend one of the Autism Specific Early Learning and Care Centres?

Children aged zero to six years with a diagnosis of an ASD or with ASD like symptoms are eligible to attend an Autism Specific Early Learning and Care Centre.

Centres must allocate places to those children and families with the greatest need for support. There are five levels of priority that Autism Specific Early Learning and Care Centres must follow when filling vacancies.

  1. A child with a diagnosis of ASD at risk of serious abuse or neglect
  2. Children with a diagnosis of ASD attending the year before they are eligible to attend formal schooling
  3. Children with a diagnosis of ASD attending the two years before they are eligible to attend formal schooling
  4. Any other child with a diagnosis of ASD
  5. Any child with ASD like symptoms.

Intake and enrolment of children will be managed by the individual centres.

7. Can I use my Helping Children with Autism funding package at an Autism Specific Early Learning and Care Centre?

No. These centres are being provided with funding by the Australian Government to employ specialist staff.

As an approved long day care provider, centres are eligible for Australian Government financial support for the delivery of approved child care places, including Child Care Benefit.

As each Autism Specific Early Learning and Care Centre will be provided with funding to employ specialist staff, Centres will not be eligible to claim costs incurred as part of the delivery of services to the 20 autism specific approved child care places. However, some centres may provide HCWA early intervention services outside of the Autism Specific Early Learning and Care Centre programme. These services differ between centres. Please contact your local Autism Specific Early Learning and Care Centre for more information.

8. Will the Autism Specific Early Learning and Care Centres follow best practice in the autism field?

Service delivery models for the Autism Specific Early Learning and Care Centres must be based on the Early Intervention for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder: Guidelines for Best Practice published by Prior and Roberts (2006) and current evidence of best practice in child care and early childhood education for children with special needs. A copy of the Prior and Roberts Guidelines is available elsewhere on the DSS website.

9. Will service delivery in the Autism Specific Early Learning and Care Centres be based on Applied Behavioural Analysis (ABA)?

Autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) are highly complex and heterogeneous disorders characterised by impairments in social behaviour, communication, and many aspects of learning, as well as fundamental problems in acquiring functional, adaptive, and flexible behaviour (Howlin, 2009).

International guidelines suggest that treatment for ASDs should be individualised to meet the specific characteristics and needs of the child and their family. Given individual and family differences, early intervention programs should be individually designed, taking into account the child’s cognitive level, severity of autistic symptomatology, overall developmental level, chronological age and temperament/personality (New Zealand Autism Spectrum Disorders Guide, 2008).

The Autism Specific Early Learning and Care Centres’ service delivery models are likely to incorporate ABA strategies. They are also expected to be flexible to meet the needs and strengths of individual children and families. In order to do this, centres need to utilise a ‘tool box’ of intervention strategies. All centres are required to focus on working collaboratively to develop best practice in autism early intervention, as well as early childhood education and child care for children with special needs.

The service delivery models of all Autism Specific Early Learning and Care Centres must be consistent with guidelines for good practice as described in Early Intervention for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder: Guidelines for Best Practice (Prior and Roberts, 2006).

Individualised planning and delivery tailored to the needs and strengths of the child and family incorporating evidenced based best practice in autism early intervention, child care and early childhood education will ensure that the best interests of each child are central to their treatment.
Citations:

  1. Howlin, P., Magiati, I., Charman, T. (2009)
    Systematic Review of Early Intensive Behavioural Interventions for Children with Autism.
    American Journal of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities
    Vol 114, no 1.

  2. Ministries of Health and Education. (2008).
    New Zealand Autism Spectrum Disorder Guideline.
    Wellington: Ministry of Health
    Published in March 2008 by the Ministry of Health
    PO Box 5013, Wellington, New Zealand
    ISBN: 978-0-478-31257-7 (Book)
    ISBN: 978-0-478-31258-4 (Internet)
    HP4504
    This document is available on the Ministry of Health's Website.

  3. Roberts, J., Prior, M. (2006).
    A Review to Identify the Most Effective Models of Practice in Early Intervention for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders.
    Australian Government Department of Health, Australia.
    This document is available on the Department of Health's website

10. How do I find out more about enrolling my child in one of the Autism Specific Early Learning and Care Centres?

Location Service Name Contact Email/Phone
South Western Sydney KU Marcia Burgess Autism Specific Early Learning and Care Centre The Program Manager, KU Children’s Services Marcia Burgess ASELCC ku.marciaburgessautism@ku.com.au
02 9612 9400
Brisbane Queensland Autism Specific Early Learning and Care Centre – AEIOU for Children with Autism Katrina Ives, AEIOU info@aeiou.org.au
07 3320 7545
Adelaide Anglicare – SA, Daphne Street Child Care and Specialist Early Learning Centre Sarah Ferguson, Manager, Anglicare SA daphneadmin@anglicare-sa.org.au
08 8269 8688
North West Tasmania Alexander Beetle House (North West Tasmania Autism Specific Early Learning and Care Centre) Kathryn Fordyce ASELCC@burnie.net
03 6430 5779
Melbourne La Trobe University Community Childrens Centre Jenny Reynolds, Manager, Family and Children’s Services, La Trobe University j.reynolds@latrobe.edu.au
03 9479 2122
Perth Mercy Child Day Care Bedford Gee van der Watt, Team Leader, WA ASELCC project, Autism Association of Western Australia aselcc@autism.org.au
08 6380 5504

[ top ]

Last updated: