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. These supports may include linkages to existing services and supports within the participant’s community, and/or reasonable and necessary funded supports.

2. 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.

3. What is the Early Childhood Early Intervention (ECEI) Approach?

The Early Childhood Early Intervention (ECEI) Approach is how the NDIS is working with Early Childhood Partners to deliver early childhood intervention for children aged 0-6 years.

The Early Childhood Partner will be the first contact point for families. They will discuss with the family the most appropriate supports that would benefit the child. This includes providing information and referral to other support services or organisations. Understanding that every child is different, the Early Childhood Partners will tailor the supports to the child and family’s individual needs and circumstances.

The ECEI Approach is being implemented in line with the scheduled full-scheme roll-out of the NDIS. Families are able to self-refer to their local Early Childhood Partner, or make contact with the NDIS through the call centre on 1800 800 110 and they will be directed to an Early Childhood Partner in their local area.

A list of Early Childhood Partners is also available on the NDIS website at www.ndis.gov.au/ecei.

Please note that the Early Childhood Partners have not been established in remote and very remote locations. If you live in one of these locations, please contact the NDIA through the call centre on 1800 800 110.

4. If my child has been recently diagnosed with a disability, and I live in a site where an Early Childhood Partner already exists, can I apply for HCWA or Better Start?

No. The HCWA and Better Start programs have ceased or are shortly ceasing in sites where the NDIS is already available. Families seeking access to early intervention funding and support should contact their local Early Childhood Partner, or make contact with the NDIS through the call centre on 1800 800 110 and they will be directed to an Early Childhood Partner in your local area.

A list of Early Childhood Partners is also available on the NDIS website at www.ndis.gov.au/ecei.

5. Is the funding provided by the NDIS based on diagnosis?

No. Unlike HCWA and Better Start, funding under the NDIS is based on the impact of the disability or developmental delay on the child’s ability to participate in activities or perform tasks or activities. Evidence of the child’s developmental delay or disability is required to determine eligibility when requesting access to the NDIS.

6. Is the NDIS means tested?

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

7. What will happen to the funding for children currently accessing the HCWA and Better Start programs living in NDIS sites?

Funding for both HCWA and Better Start will 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.

8. Will a child get the set amount of funding for the whole of his or 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 these 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.

9. When will transition to the NDIS occur?

Roll-out of the full scheme in all states and territories (except Western Australia) started progressively from July 2016. More information about NDIS sites.

10. What will happen when a HCWA or Better Start client is due to transition to the NDIS?

All existing HCWA and Better Start children will be referred to the Early Childhood Partner in their local area where they will be supported to determine the most appropriate pathway for them and their families. Families will receive contact from the Early Childhood Partner to commence information gathering and initial supports. These meetings will be scheduled over a period of time through a transition period. The Early Childhood Partners are suitably experienced and qualified organisations with strong local knowledge and understanding of the needs of children and their families to deliver the ECEI services. The Early Childhood Partner will discuss with the family the most appropriate supports that would benefit the child. This includes providing information and referral to other support services or organisations. Understanding that every child is different, the Early Childhood Partners will tailor the supports to the child’s and family’s individual needs and circumstances.

You are able to self-refer to your local Early Childhood Partner. A list of Early Childhood Partners is available on the NDIS website at www.ndis.gov.au/ecei. You can also make contact with the NDIS through the call centre on 1800 800 110, and you will be directed to an Early Childhood Partner in your local area.

If the ECEI approach is available in your area, it utilises the existing referral pathways into early childhood intervention through maternal child health, paediatricians and GPs. Families are able to self-refer to their local Early Childhood Partner, or make contact with the NDIA through the call centre on 1800 800 110 and you will be directed to an Early Childhood Partner in your local area.

If your child is deemed eligible for the NDIS and has an approved NDIS plan, their funding from HCWA or Better Start will cease.

11. 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 program (that is, until their funds are fully expended, or they reach 7 years of age, whichever happens first).

12. Can I be disadvantaged by moving to the NDIS?

The Early Childhood Partner will be the first contact point for families. The Early Childhood Partner will discuss with the family the most appropriate supports that would benefit the child. This includes providing information and referral to other support services or organisations. Understanding that every child is different, the Early Childhood Partners will tailor the supports to the child and family’s individual needs and circumstances.

Participants will be funded for ‘reasonable and necessary’ supports that are tailored to help them meet their goals. This does not mean that participants will receive exactly the same types or level of services or resources that they received immediately before transfer or may have been able to receive under HCWA or Better Start. More information about reasonable and necessary supports can be found on the NDIS website.

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

The Department of Social Services is encouraging all HCWA and Better Start 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 the 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. 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 if they are thinking about registering for the NDIS.

14. What will happen to HCWA and Better Start over time?

Over time, funding for the HCWA and Better Start programs will transition to the NDIS.

One month after the ECEI Approach is available in an area, new registrations to the HCWA and Better Start programs will be closed. Families with newly diagnosed children will be referred to relevant Early Childhood Partners. Families can also self-refer to their local Early Childhood Partner. Information on Early Childhood Partners is available on the NDIS website.

If the child does not become an NDIS participant, other services and supports will be available. The Early Childhood Partner will assist the family to access these services and supports.

15. 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?

Participants will be funded for ‘reasonable and necessary’ supports that are tailored to help your child meet their goals. This may include aids and equipment that have been prescribed by therapists that are evidenced-based to support functional outcomes for the participant. This does not mean participants will receive exactly the same types or level of services or resources that they received immediately before transfer.

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.

16. 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 HCWA or Better Start, or any other state, territory or Commonwealth program, will not have any impact on a child’s individualised plan. Planners will, however, 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 they require to 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.

17. 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. Verifying the child’s eligibility in FOFMS is advised to ensure services are provided only to eligible children.

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

To provide supports and services under the NDIS, service providers will need to register with the NDIA. Registration information, detailed price guides and NDIS roll-out schedules can be accessed on the NDIS website.

Existing HCWA and Better Start panel members applying to become registered NDIS providers will be treated as existing Commonwealth providers and can undertake a streamlined registration process under transition working arrangements with each state and territory. By uploading a copy of a current panel grant agreement during the registration process, panel members will not have to undertake any additional quality and safeguarding requirements.

Early Intervention Service Provider Panel members that deliver services in Victoria are only considered an existing Commonwealth provider if they were a member of the panel at 30 June 2016 (the date the working arrangements came into effect). Providers joining the panel from 1 July 2016 will be considered new providers for registration purposes. This means they will need to meet both the NDIA Terms of Business for Registered Providers and Victoria’s quality and safeguarding requirements, including third party verification for delivering services under the NDIS Early Childhood Supports Registration Group. For more information go to www.ndis.gov.au/providers/vic-registering-provider.html.

19. 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.

20. 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 roll-out. Providers wishing to deliver services to HCWA and Better Start clients will still need to be registered on the relevant panel.

21. Further information

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

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