Your early childhood partner may recommend early supports if your child is younger than 6 and has developmental concerns . Early supports are designed to build capacity in you and your child to promote everyday learning. They promote everyday learning in your home and other environments. Early supports provide a goal focussed approach to address specific concerns about your child’s development.

Your early childhood partner will work with you so they can better understand your child’s strengths and needs. They will plan what supports will meet your child’s needs. This will include how long your child may need early supports for.

During this time they will work together with you and the relevant community and mainstream services to make sure your child is included and participates in everyday settings. For example, if your child goes to childcare, your early childhood partner may work with you and the staff. They can support your child’s inclusion and participation in this setting.

Your early childhood partner may offer a short period of early supports. This will usually be 3 to 6 months, or up to a maximum of 12 months where required. They’ll talk to you about your child’s early supports, and get your agreement on:

  • where the supports will happen
  • what your goals are
  • how you and your child will be supported to pursue these goals
  • who will provide the supports
  • when early supports will end
  • what happens after early connections.

Early supports follow the principles of best practice as outlined in the National Guidelines on Best Practice in Early Childhood Intervention .

To work out whether your child who is younger than 6 will be offered early supports your early childhood partner will look at whether:

  • their observations of your child, and your parent report, show concerns about your child’s development
  • the assessment and screening tools show your child’s development is outside the typical range for their age
  • there are developmental concerns that don’t fully meet developmental delay
  • there is any evidence from relevant professionals to show there’s a significant impact on your child’s function or the impact isn’t yet known
  • the support required is the responsibility of mainstream and community services.

Your early childhood partner will work closely with you to set clear expectations, goals, responsibilities and outcomes of the early supports.

Early supports can be provided in individual or group settings, and may include:

  • parent workshops on child development topics such as behaviour, feeding or toileting
  • building the skills and capacity of mainstream services, such as early childhood education and care services, to support your child’s needs
  • strategies to help your child build their skills and participate in everyday routines – such as visual supports for communication, or positive behaviour support approach to toileting
  • support to build your confidence and knowledge to use the strategies and skills in everyday routines
  • working with you and mainstream services to prepare for significant transitions, such as starting school or preschool.

When the period of early support finishes, your early childhood partner will do a final review. They will look at the goals you have been working on and what was achieved. This will help the people around your child, for example your family, GP and your child’s early childhood educator, to understand and support your child in the future.

During early supports there might be evidence that your child needs additional support and could meet the NDIS criteria for developmental delay . Your early childhood partner will help you to apply to the NDIS if you want to.

When your child becomes an NDIS participant early supports will stop. If your child joins the NDIS your early childhood partner will work with you to develop your child’s NDIS plan.

This page current as of
29 October 2021
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