Overview of Early Intervention Services and Supports

UPDATE: Funding for the Helping Children With Autism (HCWA) and Better Start For Children with Disability (Better Start) programs is transitioning to the National Disability Insurance Scheme and the programs will close on 30 June 2020. Registrations for the HCWA and Better Start programs have progressively closed in states where the NDIS Early Childhood Partners are established. From 15 February 2020, registrations for these programs will be closed nationally. If you are seeking support or information for a child, please contact your local Early Childhood Partner or the NDIA on 1800 800 110.

Early Intervention Funding

Child age: 0 – 6

Target group: Children with ASD or another eligible condition

The Australian Government provides early intervention funding through two programs:

  • Helping Children with Autism (HCWA)
  • Better Start for Children with Disability (Better Start)

Under these programs, children under the age of six with an eligible diagnosis can access early intervention funding of up to $12,000 (a maximum of $6,000 per financial year). The funding is for services and therapies from a panel of registered service providers.

Up to 35 per cent of this funding ($4,200, or $2,100 per financial year) can be used to buy resources recommended for your child by a registered service provider. This could include visual aids, communication boards, sound field systems or other equipment.

Funding must be spent by the child’s seventh birthday. If your child is over seven, visit ‘Children over seven years of age’ for information about other services you may be able to access.

HCWA and Better Start Medicare Items

Child age: 0 – 15

Target group: Children with an eligible diagnosis for HCWA or Better Start

Children under the age of thirteen can access HCWA and Better Start Medicare items available for assessment, diagnosis and the creation of a treatment and management plan. Once a treatment and management plan is in place, items are available for sessions with a range of allied health professionals including psychologists, speech pathologists, and occupational therapists.

The services include:

  • Up to four diagnostic / assessment services to assist the referring practitioner with diagnosis or to contribute to a child’s treatment and management plan (for a child under thirteen years of age).
  • Up to twenty treatment sessions (for a child under fifteen years of age, providing they have a treatment and management plan in place by thirteen).

You do not need to be registered with HCWA or Better Start to use these Medicare items.

More information, including specific Medicare item number can be found via the links below:

Autism Specific Early Learning and Care Centres (ASELCCs)

Child Age: 0 – 6 years

Target group: Children with an ASD and children with ASD-like symptoms

Autism Specific Early Learning and Care Centres (ASELCCs) provide early learning, day care and support for children with ASD. The centres are accredited long day child care centres and provide services based on best practice principles for working with children with ASD.

ASELCCs are located in:

  • South Western Sydney
  • Brisbane
  • Adelaide
  • North West Tasmania
  • Melbourne
  • Perth.

Some of your questions about ASELCCs can be found on the Frequently Asked Questions page or you can learn more about ASELCCs here.

Early Days Workshops

Child Age: 0 – 6

Target group: Parents of children with ASD or another disability

Early Days Workshops provide flexible and tailored support for parents and carers of children with disability including those from diverse cultural and Indigenous backgrounds, and those living in rural and remote areas. The workshops help parents and carers to:

  • better support their children
  • learn new coping skills
  • more effectively manage the pressures they face in raising their children
  • create links within their local community.

For more information about HCWA Workshops, please go to HCWA Early Days or contact the Autism Association in your state or territory.

For more information about Better Start Workshops, contact Carers Australia on 1800 242 636 or Ability First Australia via the Better Start Early Days website.

PlayConnect Playgroups

Child Age: 0 - 6

Target group: Families with children with ASD or ASD-like symptoms

The PlayConnect Playgroups target children under the age of seven with ASD or ASD like symptoms. They usually meet weekly for two hours during school terms. During playgroup sessions, parents, carers and children participate in a variety of play activities and experiences specifically suited to the needs of children with ASD.

For more information contact Playgroup Australia by calling 1800 171 882 or
emailing info@playgroupaustralia.com.au

Playgroup Community Events (Better Start)

Child Age: 0 – 6

Target group: Families with children with disability

The Better Start Playgroup Community Events give families information on the developmental benefits of participation in playgroups for their children, and encourage social and support networks for parents.

For more information contact Playgroup Association by calling 1800 171 882 or emailing info@playgroupaustralia.com.au

Positive Partnerships

Child age: N/A

Target group: School-aged children with an Autism Spectrum Disorder ASD

The Australian Government Department of Education offers a Positive Partnerships initiative for school-aged children with an ASD.

Positive Partnerships hold workshops and information sessions for parents and carers of school-age students with autism. These can help you to work with your child’s teachers, school leaders and other staff.

Positive Partnerships also supports the professional development for teachers, school leaders and other school staff to build their understanding, skills and expertise in working with children with ASD

The Positive Partnerships website has a range of resources including fact sheets, online learning modules and information on upcoming workshops.

Auslan Interpreting

Child Age: N/A

Target group: Users of sign language

The National Auslan Interpreter Booking and Payment Service (NABS) is a national service funded by DSS. NABS provides interpreters to anyone who uses sign language to communicate and needs an interpreter for private medical appointments.

Bookings for interpreting services can be made for people with hearing impairments, including situations where there is an adult with a hearing impairment and a child with normal hearing attending a private medical consultation. You can make a booking by calling NABS on 1800 246 945.

Medical services covered by NABS include appointments with GPs, Aboriginal health workers, psychologists, mental health workers, occupational therapists, speech pathologists, and paediatricians.

Find more information on the NABS website.

Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS)

Child Age: N/A

Target group: Speakers of languages other than English

The TIS provides interpreting services for people who do not speak English and for organisations that need to communicate with their non-English speaking clients.

Members of the Early Intervention Service Provider Panel are able to access TIS services for use with HCWA and Better Start clients at no cost. Details about this arrangement are available from the Early Intervention Helpdesk by calling 1800 778 581 or emailing Early.Intervention@dss.gov.au..

For more information on TIS, please visit the Translating and Interpreting Service webpage or call 131 450.

Early Intervention Helpdesk

Tel: 1800 778 581

Email: early.intervention@dss.gov.au

Helpdesk opening hours

The Early Intervention helpdesk is located in Perth and is open during these times:

  • Monday – Friday: 8:30am to 12:00pm and 1pm to 4pm WST

For other languages, call the Translating and Interpreting Service on 13 14 50 and ask them to contact the Helpdesk for you.

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