The NDIS Early Childhood Early Intervention Program (ECEI) supports children under the age of seven who live with one or more developmental delays or disabilities. Once a child turns seven and their NDIS plan ends, they then need to move to the main National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). Alternatively, their NDIS support is removed.
If you’ve had the benefit of ECEI support for one or more years, you’ll be wondering what happens next. Especially if you believe your child needs continued funding. Read on…
Why is the NDIS Early Childhood Early Intervention Program age based?
The NDIS Early Childhood Early Intervention program is different to the rest of the NDIS scheme as it’s designed around a core developmental stage. Before a child turns seven, they’re in this core developmental stage. It’s a time where the brain and body are highly adaptable and open to learning new skills.
In other words, they’re more receptive to early intervention than they would be at any other stage of their life. Because of this adaptability, intense supports are provided with the hope of reducing or eliminating the need down the line.
That’s the overarching goal of the ECEI program.
As your child moves through this intensive early childhood support scheme, you’ll work with an Early Childhood Partner. If your child transitions into the main NDIS program after the age of seven you (and they) will then work with an NDIS Local Area Coordinator instead.
Supporting documents for your access request
At some point after your child turns six years old, they’ll begin their final 12-month NDIS Early Childhood Early Intervention plan. During this time, talk to your Early Childhood Partner about transitioning into the NDIS main scheme. Or, transitioning out. Towards the end of these 12 months your child’s need to move to the full NDIS scheme will be assessed.
Your Early Childhood Partner should be able to help you figure out if your child is eligible for continued support from the NDIS. Though they don’t make the decision – the NDIA does. More importantly, the professionals your child has been engaging with throughout their time on the ECEI should give you their professional opinion on whether further support is needed.
Their assessment reports and/or letters of support will help you gain access to the full NDIS program. Your Early Childhood Partner should be able to talk you through the steps for doing so well in advance of those final 12 months ending.
If you find you’re a couple of months away from your child’s last ECEI plan finishing up, perhaps be on the front foot and contact them. However, it’s the NDIA’s responsibility to contact you as your child nears the time of their transition (to the main scheme or out), rather than the other way around.
Finishing your NDIS Early Childhood Early Intervention program
As you enter the final quarter of the last 12-month ECEI plan give yourself plenty of time to collect your supporting documents that prove your child requires continued NDIS support. Collect the following documents (ensuring they’re as up to date as possible) to support your access request:
- Your child’s medical records
- Reports from therapists’ and others re: assessments your child has recently completed
- Your child’s school records (e.g. school reports, behavioural incident notes, letters from the teacher regarding their observations, etc)
- A list of important points about your child’s progress
- A list of important goals you hope your child will be able to achieve. You may want to jog your memory on this process by reading our Setting NDIS Goals for the First Time article
- A write-up of your child’s overall situation that describes in full who they are, what supports they have and what they need from the NDIS
Also ask your Early Childhood Partner to recommend what documents they think you need to include.
During the final 12-month plan, your child will still be able to use their ECEI plan – though this depends on continued NDIA approval. Expect a call from the NDIA at some point during this plan period.
This call from the NDIA is to request updated documentary evidence from your child’s paediatrician or similar. You’ll need to submit these documents within 28 days of the letter the NDIA sends to you after the call, which will outline this need. The NDIA requires this for your child to keep using the ECEI plan until the end of the early intervention program plan period.
Your Early Childhood Partner, the Local Area Coordinator Program and the NDIA
As your child’s final ECEI plan gets close to finishing up their Early Childhood Partner will do your child’s introductory handover to the LAC program, entering all details in the system. An LAC can contact your Early Childhood Partner for any other information or supporting documents they have.
An LAC will then proactively contact you to discuss your child’s progress and ongoing needs. They’ll meet with you to discuss further and gather evidence that supports your child’s need for continued support (or not). Bring to this meeting all documents mentioned above that you’ve prepared.
The LAC will use this information to put together a documented plan to present to the NDIA for approval. If the NDIA decides from this that your child needs reasonable and necessary supports from the NDIS program, your child will be approved for transitioning into the main scheme.
As a prerequisite for approval, the NDIA is looking for any or all of the following criteria:
- Has been given a diagnosis of a permanent or significant disability
- Needs assistance from other people, for instance, a carer or therapist
- Requires mobility or other equipment, home modifications or assistive technology to participate in daily life
- Needs long-term support
Transitioning out of the NDIS
Of course, by the time your child turns seven years old and has navigated the ECEI program their needs may have changed or decreased. For instance, by the age of seven, a child may outgrow (or be close to outgrowing) a developmental delay. This would mean they no longer need support, or they may need a much lower level of support. If this happens, and your child has no disability diagnosis, they may not receive NDIS funding.
In this case, the NDIA will support your transition to mainstream supports. They will help you find out what your options are, for example, community health support and Medicare.
Evaluate, finalise and use the NDIS plan
After your planning meeting, if your child is approved for ongoing NDIS support a plan outlining their funding and funding categories is developed by the NDIA. This will be sent to you and made available on the myplace portal. Just as your child’s ECEI plans have been. If you have any issues with the plan you’ll need to contact your LAC.
Otherwise, you can now begin finding the proper supports that will help your child make the most of their plan and meet their goals. You may decide that the service providers they’re already using are still the most appropriate.
If so, your transition into utilising the main NDIS scheme will be relatively smooth. In that respect anyway. For example, you may need to adjust to different levels of funding across the plan’s support categories. Or you may have a different relationship to your child’s LAC than you did with the Early Childhood Partner.
Whatever re-jigging needs to be done, the positive is that your child will continue to receive NDIS-funded supports.
Additional support from Blue Badge Insurance
Using your plan well involves finding the right supports for your child’s needs within the planned budget. You might need a carer, or a wheelchair, or a converted car. Find out more here on will the NDIS fund my wheelchair?
NDIS early intervention – over to you
Blue Badge works with lots of mums and dads whose children have been in the early intervention program. We know how many steps are involved and how much effort is required in helping your child achieve their goals. Tell us about your experience of transitioning from the early intervention program to the main NDIS scheme. Write to us in the comments below and share a comment on our Facebook page. We’d love to hear from you.