Choosing the RIGHT service
This video is about getting support under the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). Parents of children with disability talk about NDIS early childhood access partners and key workers, and how they got started with early intervention. It can start with a conversation, then your key worker can recommend ways to support your child’s development. The aim is to get young children into early intervention as quickly as possible, and for families to feel supported by the NDIS from the start.
(Sourced from the Raising Children website, Australia’s trusted parenting website. For more parenting information, visit raisingchildren.net.au.)
Choosing an ECEI Service
Once you have an NDIS plan you may need to choose a service provider to help make your goals come to life. This may be support from an ECI provider.
Professionals in early childhood supports are often referred to as Early Childhood Early Intervention Providers simply because they provide a service to children and families. Providers can be one professional alone (Sole Provider) or a whole team from a large organisation. Under the NDIS you will be able to choose what works for you. Service Providers work alongside you to bring your NDIS plan to life.
An early childhood intervention provider that is chosen through an NDIS plan should be working in partnership with you and your family. You are well on your way towards achieving meaningful outcomes if you feel that you are at the centre of your child’s development and that the supports in place have been built on the goals and directions you have set as a family.
Early intervention for your child will often involve a range of professionals such as a speech pathologists, occupational therapists, psychologists and special educators. It may take place within an early intervention centre, at kindergarten, or within the home environment.
There is no one-size-fits-all model, and the type of intervention your child receives will depend on the availability of services within your local area and the needs of your child and family. However, a team based approach is often the best way to support your child. Early intervention in this context describes a combination of therapists working to develop a child’s abilities early in their life,.
Recommended Team Work Practices (NDIA Paper):
Primary service provider / key worker model: This involves a team of professionals from different disciplines that meets regularly and that nominates one member as the primary service provider or key worker. With support from the other team members, the primary service provider works in partnership with parents and other caregivers to support and strengthen their capacity to provide children with opportunities and experiences that will promote the children’s learning, development and participation in everyday activities.
Transdisciplinary teamwork: This model involves a team of professionals who work collaboratively, and share the responsibilities of evaluating, planning and implementing services to children and their families. Families are valued members of the team, and are involved in all aspects of intervention. One professional is chosen as the primary service provider for the family, and acts as the conduit for the expertise of the team. The full team remains involved, and the primary provider reports back to the team constantly.
Interdisciplinary teamwork: This model involves a team of professionals that may conduct their own assessments and develop discipline-specific goals, but meet regularly to coordinate service planning. Actual service delivery is still done by the professionals separately, but as part of an overall plan.
Multidisciplinary teamwork: This model involves a group of professionals working independently with a family and having minimal interaction with one another. Each specialist conducts their own assessment, develops discipline-specific goals, and works directly with the child to remediate weaknesses identified in their assessments.
Standards and Quality
Working as an ECI Professional means that the person you are working with must adhere to standards of working which are based on decades of research in the field of childhood development. This is often referred to as Evidence Based Practice.
Services will look different to every family as all families have different needs. However, there are some ways of working that are proven to achieve great outcomes and indicate that the service is of high quality.
Some Points to Consider
- Is the provider basing their conversation around your needs and the goals of your family?
- Are they able to explain the reasons why work in a certain way? Can they link this back to research and evidence?
- Do you feel your provider values all family members roles in your child’s life?
- Do you and your provider trust each other?
- Does your provider communicate freely and respectfully with you and your family
- Does your professional share insights and perspectives about your child?
- Are you engaged in shared decision-making?
When it comes to choosing a service provider, there are some standards which you can look for and can be very helpful.
These standards, developed by Early Childhood Intervention Australia, explain how the best service providers for your child should be:
- work in partnership with you and your family
- provide interventions for your child that take into account your family’s priorities and home situation
- build on your family’s strengths and help you develop your own support networks.
- welcome everyone regardless of their cultural, language or religious backgrounds or family beliefs
- encourage all families to be involved in their children’s learning and development
- know about and respect diversity
- provide services and support that take into account your family’s cultural, language and religious background and your family’s beliefs.
- recognise that every child has the right to take part in family and community life and to have the same choices, opportunities and experiences as other children
- understand that all children need to feel accepted and to have a real sense of belonging
- understand that children with disability or developmental delay might need extra support so that they can fully take part in everyday life with their families, in their community, and at school or preschool.
Focused on everyday life
- help your child to take part in daily life at home, in the community, or at child care or school
- understand that supporting your child in his daily life can help him to feel that he belongs, and can give him opportunities to learn and practise skills.
Focused on teamwork
- work as a team with your family
- share information, knowledge and skills with your family
- give your family one main person to work with.
Focused on building knowledge and skills
This means NDIS service providers build the knowledge, skills and abilities of the people who spend the most time with your child. This helps these people have the biggest possible impact on your child’s learning and development.
Qualified and evidence based
- employ professionals with appropriate expertise and qualifications
- use intervention strategies that are grounded in research and solid clinical evidence
- measure themselves against the National Guidelines: Best Practice in Early Childhood Intervention.
Focused on outcomes
- focus on outcomes that you want for your child and family
- identify the skills you and your family need to achieve these outcomes.
You can find out more about these standards and get more information about choosing NDIS service providers at the Raising Children Network’s “Choosing NDIS service providers: what to look for” resource.