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) programmes

Q: What is the NDIS?

The NDIS is a new way to support people with disability using an individualised and life-long 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 programmes, 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. These supports may include linkages to existing services and supports within the participant’s community, and/or reasonable and necessary funded supports.

Q: Who manages the NDIS?

The NDIS is managed by the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA). Read about the type of help you can get from the NDIA.

Q: Is the NDIS based on diagnosis?

No. Unlike HCWA and Better Start, people with disability must meet the age, location, residency and disability or early intervention requirements.

Q: Is the NDIS means tested?

No. There is no means testing for access to the individualised support provided through the NDIS.

Q: What will happen to the funding for children currently accessing the HCWA and Better Start programmes living in trial sites?

Both HCWA and Better Start have been identified for transition to the NDIS. Once children transferring from HCWA or Better Start have a plan approved under the NDIS, their access to HCWA or Better Start funding will cease as they will then be eligible to receive funding under the NDIS.

Q: Will a child get the set amount of funding for the whole of his/her life?

The NDIS is a lifelong scheme. Reasonable and necessary supports are provided based on needs and goals and these are likely to change over the course of a child’s development. The NDIA will regularly review a child’s plan so that supports received remain in line with the child’s needs and goals. Parents and carers can also request that the plan and the level of support provided be reviewed if the needs of their child change in between regular assessments.

Q: When will transition to the NDIS occur?

The NDIS started in July 2013 as a trial in a four locations. There are now trial sites in all states and territories.
Roll out of the full scheme in all states and territories (except Western Australia) will start progressively from July 2016. More information about NDIS sites.

Children eligible for HCWA or Better Start are encouraged to transition to the NDIS once it becomes available to them.

Q: What will happen when a HCWA or Better Start client is due to transition?

Families will receive a letter form the Department of Social Services advising them when their child is eligible to transition to the NDIS and how to commence the transition. They can then contact the NDIA directly on 1800 800 110 to request an Access Request Form and make an appointment with the NDIA for an assessment for their child. If their child is assessed as eligible for the NDIS, the NDIA will work with the family to develop a support plan. Once this plan is approved and the child can receive funding under the NDIS, their funding from HCWA or Better Start will cease.

If a client is found ineligible for the NDIS then they will continue to receive support under HCWA or Better Start until they exit the programme.

Q: What will happen during the planning meeting?

See examples of how people will engage with the NDIA.

Q: What happens if a HCWA or Better Start client is ineligible to become a participant of the NDIS?

If a child is assessed as ineligible for the NDIS they will continue to access early intervention support under HCWA or Better Start until they exit the programme (i.e. until their funds are fully expended, or they reach 7 years of age, which is the maximum age for assistance).

Q: Can I be disadvantaged by moving to the NDIS?

Clients will be funded for ‘reasonable and necessary’ supports to achieve at least the same outcomes under the NDIS that was enabled by their previous support. This does not mean that clients will receive exactly the same types or level of services or resources that they received immediately prior to transfer or may have been able to receive under HCWA or Better Start.

For example HCWA and Better Start allow general access to resources, such as iPads and trampolines, that may be beyond what is considered ‘reasonable and necessary’ for a particular child based on need.

In developing a plan to meet reasonable and necessary needs the NDIA will:

  • consider any evidence and indicators of need as well as the types and level of support the child previously received through HCWA or Better Start;
  • consider the level of funds remaining per annum when assessing any financial disadvantage in the transfer e.g. if a child has $3000 remaining with 3 years remaining to spend it on HCWA or Better Start, a package of $1000 per year could be used as a guide for assessing financial disadvantage;
  • wherever appropriate and where families wish, continue with existing service providers; and
  • ensure that plans are in place as soon as possible and gaps in service provision are minimised if commencing with new service providers.

Q: Through the NDIS, can a child still use the same service providers they currently see as a HCWA or Better Start client?

We are encouraging all our service providers to register for the NDIS so that continuity of care is not affected by the transition. If a child’s plan is being administered by NDIA, the service providers they visit will need to be registered with the NDIA. However, it is possible for families and participants to self-manage all or part of their funds and in this case they can use service providers who are not registered with the NDIA, as long as they provide a support identified in the participant’s plan. Clients of HCWA and Better Start may wish to ask their current service provider/s if they are thinking about registering for the NDIS.

Q: What will happen to HCWA and Better Start over time?

HCWA and Better Start are gradually closing to new clients in trial sites as the NDIS is rolled out in accordance with agreed phasing arrangements. Once HCWA and Better Start are closed, the relevant target group will need to be referred directly to the NDIA. Parents and carers will be advised what documentation is required by the NDIA when they make a time to meet with an NDIA staff member.

If the child does not become an NDIS participant, other services may still be available. The NDIA will assist the family to access these services.

Q: Currently under HCWA and Better Start, claims can be made for equipment, aids and resources for children. Will these items still be available under the NDIS?

Clients will be funded for ‘reasonable and necessary’ supports to achieve at least the same outcomes under the NDIS that was enabled by their previous support. This does not mean that clients will receive exactly the same types or level of services or resources that they received immediately prior to transfer or may have been able to receive under HCWA or Better Start.

If resources are identified as being reasonable and necessary to assist a child meet their goals, these will be incorporated into the child’s individualised plan. For a full list of resource categories and their pricing see the NDIS website.

Q: Will the money already received under HCWA or Better Start affect a child’s funding amount under the NDIS?

No. The funding previously received under any state/territory or Commonwealth funding package will not have any impact on a child’s individualised plan, but planners will take into account the effectiveness of any previous supports on the participant’s functioning. Support plans will be based on a child’s needs and the assistance required to help them reach their developmental milestones at the time of assessment.

For further information on the NDIS including eligibility, assessment and plan management please visit the NDIS website or call 1800 800 110.

Service Provider Questions

Q: How will service providers manage HCWA/Better Start claims for children transitioning to the NDIS?

Service providers will need to monitor the continuing eligibility of children to whom they are providing HCWA and Better Start panel services. Once a child has an approved NDIS Plan, their eligibility for HCWA and Better Start funding will cease. Maintaining regular contact with families is advised to ensure eligibility to make a FOFMS claim against a child’s HCWA or Better Start funds.

Q: How can an existing HCWA and/or Better Start service provider register to deliver early intervention services for the NDIS?

Information on becoming an NDIS service provider is available on the NDIS website.

Q: How will service providers make claims under the NDIS?

Once a service provider is registered, they will need to set up access to the NDIA Provider Portal. While there will be differences and improvements, the system is based around the system and processes currently used by HCWA and Better Start and should be a relatively easy transition for HCWA and Better Start providers.

Q: Will service providers be limited as to what they can charge?

Consistent with the Productivity Commission report, the NDIA will initially set prices for the range of supports that they will fund and a comprehensive support and pricing list has been developed and sent to existing providers as a part of the provider information pack. The method of setting prices will vary depending on the type of support being provided. For high frequency supports, such as therapeutic services, a maximum price may be set. For other lower frequency or more complex supports benchmark prices, together with requests for quotations, will be the approach. Early intervention services may have a combination of both kinds of price setting mechanisms depending on whether the provider is delivering a trans-disciplinary support or an individual therapy support. These supports and their pricings are currently available on the NDIS website. The NDIA will update prices on at least an annual basis, effective 1 July each year, taking account of supply market trends, changes in costs and wage rates.

Q: Are HCWA and Better Start service providers required to become NDIS service providers?

No. HCWA and Better Start service providers choose whether to become NDIS service providers. However, if they do not become NDIS service providers they will not be able to deliver services to NDIS clients who have their individual support plans managed by the NDIA. They can, however, continue to deliver services to HCWA and/or Better Start clients and provide services to NDIS clients who choose to self-manage their support plan and employ such providers.

Q: Will the HCWA and Better Start service provider panels continue to operate?

The HCWA and Better Start service provider panels will continue to operate outside of and in parallel to the NDIS, until its full rollout. Those providers wishing to deliver services to HCWA and Better Start clients will still need to be registered on the relevant panel.

Further information

For further information on the NDIS, including registration, IT systems and plan management please visit the NDIS website or call 1800 800 110.

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