Your early childhood partner may recommend early supports if your child is younger than 6 and has developmental concerns . Early supports build capacity in you and your child across natural settings. 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 to better understand your child’s strengths and needs. They will determine what kinds of supports maymeet your child’s needs, including how long your child may need early supports for.
During this time they will work together with you and relevant mainstream and community services to make sure your child is included and able to participate in everyday settings. For example, if your child goes to childcare, your early childhood partner may work with you and the education 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 work with you to determine:
- where the supports will happen
- what your goals are for your child
- 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.
This information will be put into your child’s early support plan. The early support plan will document your goals for your child, likely support needs including possible resources or strategies, what is happening now for you and your child and next steps.
The early support plan can be updated as your goals or priorities for your child change. The early supports plan will be shared with you, so that you can provide this to other important people in your child’s life if you choose.
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 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 expected outcomes of the early supports.
To support you and your child with measuring progress towards your goals in early supports, your early childhood partner will use an outcome measure. It is important to measure outcomes during early supports to ensure the service has been effective and met your child’s needs. We will talk to you about this and the process for measuring outcomes when the time comes to see how you and your child are progressing.
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 changes to your child’s environment to support their participation
- 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 upcoming 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 with your child and what was achieved. This will help other important people in your child's life, 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.
If your child becomes an NDIS participant early supports will stop and your early childhood partner will work with you to develop your child’s NDIS plan.