How do we work out if the child meets the criteria for developmental delay?

We’ll need a range of information about the child, observed in everyday activities and settings they usually participate in. This should include parent or carer reports and standardised assessments of developmental and or functional capacity.

Early childhood partners are early childhood professionals who give us evidence of developmental delay to help us decide if the child is eligible. An early childhood partner will meet with children and families to better understand the child’s day to day life, and any concerns about their development.

Early childhood partners will observe a child in familiar places like home and childcare and may complete assessments using screening tools. This information helps us decide if a child meets the early intervention requirements for developmental delay.

Families and carers can also provide copies of existing reports, assessments or letters about the developmental delay.

We may also ask for evidence from a variety of sources, including mainstream services. For example, we may also ask for evidence from your doctor, child health nurse, or other health professional.

Learn more about providing evidence of developmental delay .

What if there are no early childhood partners in your area?

If there are no early childhood partners in the child’s area, a mainstream, community or health service can give us a report for evidence of developmental delay.

If you’re in one of these areas, learn more about what evidence we need for developmental delay.

Is the child’s early intervention most appropriately funded by the NDIS?

To meet the early intervention requirements, the support must be most appropriately funded or provided by us. 

A child won’t be eligible if the support they need is more appropriately funded or provided:

  • by other general systems of service delivery or support services, such as a transport accident compensation scheme.
  • under a universal service obligation that other government services must provide to all Australians, such as schools and public hospitals.
  • as a reasonable adjustment under discrimination law, such as making places or venues accessible.

For example, children usually won’t be eligible if they only need the following supports. These are more appropriately provided by other government and community services:

  • medical services, and treatments for health conditions 
  • inclusion supports to help young children join early childhood learning and care settings 
  • school readiness programs to help children prepare for school 
  • newborn follow-up, such as child and maternal health services. 

For more information on when early intervention supports are most appropriately funded by us or by other services, check out:

What happens if a child with developmental delay is eligible?

If we decide a child with developmental delay is eligible for the NDIS, they’ll become a participant. But they’re usually no longer eligible after they turn 6.

This is because they will no longer meet the eligibility criteria under developmental delay. To remain an NDIS participant after they turn 6, the child will need to have an impairment that’s likely to be permanent, and meet either the disability requirements or the early intervention requirements.

We’ll talk to families or carers before a child turns 6, and explain what information we need to decide if the child is still eligible.

Learn more about leaving the NDIS .


Hunter is 5 years old, and became a participant under the early intervention requirements for developmental delay.

We give him a new 12-month NDIS plan in August. We also talk to Hunter’s family about Hunter leaving the NDIS after he is 6 years old.

Hunter’s family will be able to use his NDIS funding for the full 12 months, until August the next year. By then, he’ll be aged 6 years.

At the end of the 12 months, we'll talk to Hunter’s family about his progress. We’ll listen to understand if he built capacity to work towards his goals. If there’s evidence that Hunter does not need NDIS funded early intervention or disability requirements, we’ll decide Hunter will leave the NDIS. We’ll help his family stay connected to government and community services. 

Learn more about leaving the NDIS  and mainstream community supports.

What if a child doesn’t meet our criteria for developmental delay?

Early childhood partners can still provide supports to children younger than 6 who don’t meet our criteria for developmental delay.

A child may have developmental concerns. This means a child younger than 6 is developing slower compared to other children their age, but the delay doesn’t meet our definition for developmental delay.

For example, a child’s functional capacity may be substantially reduced in one or more areas. But it’s unclear if the child needs support from a team of professionals for more than 12 months.

An early childhood partner can provide early supports to children younger than 6 with developmental concerns. They can also help the child’s family connect to other government and community supports.

Learn more about early connections.

This page current as of
27 October 2023
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