Early Intervention Transition to the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) - Frequently Asked Questions

Information for families and service providers participating in the Helping Children with Autism (HCWA) or the Better Start for Children with Disability (Better Start) programs

1. What is the NDIS?

The National Disability Insurance Scheme, or NDIS, is a new way to support people with disability using an individualised and lifelong approach through community linkages and individualised funding plans. This means that rather than people getting support based on a limited number of places in a limited number of programs, the scheme will provide funding so all eligible people can get the reasonable and necessary support they need, based on their individual needs, goals and aspirations.

For more information about the NDIS, visit the NDIS website at www.ndis.gov.au.

2. What will happen to the HCWA/Better Start programs after 30 June 2020?

In response to the coronavirus pandemic, the Government has extended the Helping Children with Autism (HCWA) and Better Start for Children with a Disability (Better Start) programs. This extension ensures families continue to receive support through the challenges that the pandemic has presented.

HCWA and Better Start programs will no longer be ending on 30 June 2020 for existing clients. Instead, they are now ending on 31 March 2021.

The HCWA and Better Start programs are not reopening to new children.

Funding for these programs is transitioning to the NDIS. It is important that you test your child’s eligibility for the NDIS as soon as possible so you do not experience a gap in services. To start the process of testing your child’s ability to access the NDIS, contact your Early Childhood partner or the NDIS National Call Centre on 1800 800 110 as soon as possible.

To understand how the NDIS is operating during the pandemic, visit the Coronavirus (COVID-19) information and support section of the NDIS website.

3. What does this mean for my child’s HCWA/Better Start individualised funding?

HCWA and Better Start programs will no longer be ending on 30 June 2020 for existing clients. This means that your child’s HCWA or Better Start eligibility will now end when whichever of the below happens first:

  • your child turns seven; or
  • all funding has been spent; or
  • your child has an NDIS plan in place; or
  • 31 March 2021.

The HCWA and Better Start programs are not reopening to new children, and the funding for these programs is transitioning to the NDIS. It is important that you test your child’s eligibility for the NDIS as soon as possible so you do not experience a gap in services.

To start the process of testing your child’s ability to access the NDIS, contact your Early Childhood partner or the NDIS National Call Centre on 1800 800 110 as soon as possible.

To understand how the NDIS is operating during the pandemic, visit the Coronavirus (COVID-19) information and support section of the NDIS website.

4. When will my child’s HCWA or Better Start funding end?

In response to the coronavirus pandemic, the Government has extended the HCWA and Better Start program. This extension ensures families continue to receive support through the challenges that the pandemic has presented. HCWA and Better Start programs will now end on 31 March 2021.

Funding for these programs is transitioning to the NDIS. It is important that you test your child’s eligibility for the NDIS as soon as possible so you do not experience a gap in services.

To start the process of testing your child’s ability to access the NDIS, contact your Early Childhood partner or the NDIS National Call Centre on 1800 800 110 as soon as possible.

5. What are Early Childhood (EC) Partners?

EC Partners are the first point of contact for families/carers with a child aged under 7 years who may have concerns about their child’s development. They are part of the NDIS Early Childhood Early Intervention (ECEI) approach. Further information about the NDIS ECEI approach is available at www.NDIS.gov.au/ecei.

If you have not already been contacted by an EC Partner or by the NDIA, you are encouraged to contact the NDIS National Call Centre (NCC) on 1800 800 110 for more information. The NCC will advise you of your local EC Partner and can assist you to complete a verbal access request over the phone.

6. What can EC Partners do to help my child and family?

EC Partners are experienced in providing early childhood intervention and have a strong local knowledge and understanding of the needs of children aged under 7 years and their families and carers.

EC Partners are equipped to assess a child’s needs and will help you work out the types of supports that might be of most benefit to your child. They offer a tailored approach to each child’s individual needs and circumstances and are able to connect you with supports in your area, provide short-term early intervention where appropriate, and help request NDIS access if your child requires longer-term early childhood intervention. If your child becomes an NDIS participant, the EC Partner will work with your family to develop an NDIS plan.

You don’t need assessments or reports to make contact with an EC Partner.

7. Why transition to the NDIS?

The NDIS is a national Scheme that helps people with a disability, including children with developmental delay or disability, get the supports and services they need. For children under 7 years, the NDIS provides the Early Childhood Early Intervention Approach to ensure families have access to the support they need to achieve the outcomes they seek for their children. This may include an NDIS Plan with individual funded support as well as linkages to community and mainstream supports and services.

Funding under the HCWA and Better Start programs will now end on 31 March 2021, and funding for these programs is transitioning to the NDIS. It is important that you test your child’s eligibility for the NDIS as soon as possible so you do not experience a gap in services.

Once your child has an approved plan in place, your child’s funding under HCWA or Better Start will cease.

8. What evidence do I need about my child’s disability to request access to the NDIS?

If you would like to make an NDIS Access Request on behalf of your child, you will need to provide evidence of your child’s permanent disability or developmental delay. Information may also be required about the type of disability or developmental delay, how long the condition will last and its impact on your child’s life. When you contact the NCC to complete a verbal access request, they will send you an additional supporting evidence form. Your Autism Advisor or RIS can support you to gather the required evidence and send it to the NDIS. If you have a medical report, for example from a GP or paediatrician, this can be sent in with the form.

9. If a parent/carer chooses not to apply for the NDIS, what date will their child’s HCWA or Better Start funding cease?

HCWA and Better Start programs will no longer be ending on 30 June 2020 for existing clients. Instead, they are now ending on 31 March 2021. Individualised funding your child receives through HCWA and Better Start will cease on this date. After this date, the cost of services you access will not be covered by HCWA or Better Start.

10. What does it mean if my child is not eligible for the NDIS?

If your child not eligible for the NDIS, you can continue to receive HCWA or Better Start funding until whichever of the following happens first:

  • your child has turned seven; or
  • all funding has been spent; or
  • 31 March 2021.

If your child is not eligible for the NDIS, they may be eligible for the Government’s Continuity of Support (CoS) arrangement from 1 April 2021.

CoS is intended to support clients of existing Commonwealth programs to access similar supports and services to those under HCWA or Better Start.

11. Once a child has an NDIS plan, can they still use the same service providers they did as a HCWA or Better Start client?

This depends on how the child’s plan is managed. If the child’s plan is managed by the NDIA, the service providers you used under HCWA/Better Start will need to be registered with the NDIA. Check with your child’s current providers to see if they are registered with the NDIS.

If you have chosen to self-manage all or part of your child’s NDIS plan, you can use the service provider of your choice, even if that provider is not registered with the NDIS. The provider must, however, be able to provide a support identified within your child’s plan. If your service provider has not yet registered with the NDIS, you may wish to ask if they could register for the NDIS.

12. How will service providers manage HCWA/Better Start clients transitioning to the NDIS?

Current HCWA or Better Start providers need to check your child’s eligibility and funding before they provide a service. Likewise, as the child’s parent/carer, you are responsible for informing service providers once your child has an approved NDIS plan in place and is therefore no longer eligible for HCWA or Better Start funding. If you fail to inform a provider that your child is no longer eligible for HCWA or Better Start, your provider may request payment for the service from you.

13. What if I want to use all of my child’s HCWA or Better Start funding before transitioning to the NDIS?

You do not have an option to remain on HCWA or Better Start funding. Funding for these programs is transitioning to the NDIS. It is important that you test your child’s eligibility for the NDIS as soon as possible so you do not experience a gap in services.

To start the process of testing your child’s ability to access the NDIS, contact your Early Childhood partner or the NDIS National Call Centre on 1800 800 110 as soon as possible.

It is important to know that determining your child’s eligibility for the NDIS takes time. However, you can continue to receive HCWA or Better Start funding until whichever of the following happens first:

  • your child has turned seven; or
  • all funding has been spent; or
  • 31 March 2021.

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