Early intervention under the NDIS


Early intervention means addressing your child’s development, health
and support needs as soon as possible. This could be through therapy,
counselling, family support or special education.

Key points

  • Early intervention support can be accessed through the NDIS
  • Early intervention aims to help children reduce the likelihood of needing future ongoing support
  • Every child is unique, so each early childhood support journey will be tailored to their needs

Accessing ECEI support

Providing quality early intervention for a child with a developmental delay or disability in their early years is critical to achieving the best outcomes. Effective early childhood intervention should be tailored to your child and family’s needs and include evidence-based strategies and supports.

Under the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), the approach that supports children up to the age of six who have a disability or developmental delay, is called Early Childhood Early Intervention (ECEI).

The aim of ECEI is to provide supports as early as possible to give your child the best opportunity possible to develop to their full potential and reduce the likelihood of them needing ongoing supports in the future.

To access early intervention services under the NDIS children aged up to six years old don’t need a formal diagnosis of disability. If you have concerns about your child’s behaviour or development, you can call the NDIS hotline on 1800 800 110 and request access to ECEI support.

You can also be referred by your GP, family nurse, paediatrician or child care educator.

What are ECEI partners?

To deliver the best outcomes for young children with disability the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA), which runs the NDIS, has teamed up with experienced early childhood partners in your local community, who will provide assistance, advice and access to early intervention support for your child.

If your child is unlikely to have a lifelong disability, or any long term effects are still unclear, the ECEI partner can link your family with mainstream supports and work with them over the short to medium-term. They might also provide initial supports if the child needs them and monitor progress.

If your child has a lifelong disability, the ECEI partner will work with you to develop an NDIS plan that best suits your child’s needs and can help you to access services.

The ECEI process is about giving families information and time to understand what supports are available to them and how the system works, rather than sending them straight to service providers or mainstream supports.

During the ECEI process, families can build their capacity and develop the skills to make informed decisions throughout their child’s life.

When your child turns seven years old they will be reassessed to either move to an individualised funded plan under the NDIS, where a formal diagnosis is required, or transition to other Government support services.

The early childhood support journey

Every child is unique, so each early childhood support journey will be different however, there are some common steps in the process of accessing ECEI supports.

All children will go through steps one and two, but the journey from there will depend on the individual child:

  1. Connect with an early childhood partner – through the NDIA, your own request or the referral of your GP or Paediatrician. Read more about how to prepare for your ECEI meeting here.

  2. Get some helpful information – Your ECEI partner will help you understand your child’s support needs and provide you with guidance and information that will help you make decisions about the right supports and services for your child.

  3. Discuss support needs – Your ECEI partner will work with you to set goals for your child and help you understand what development programs, supports and services could help achieve these.

  4. Referral to supports and services – Your ECEI partner will connect you with supports and services available in your local community, or provide some initial early intervention supports themselves if the child needs it.

  5. Accessing the NDIS – If it is clear your child would be best supported with an NDIS plan, your ECEI partner will work with you to request NDIS access and develop a plan.

  6. Monitor progress – Your early childhood partner and any service providers will work with you to monitor your child’s progress against the goals you’ve set.

What early support do you find useful? Tell us in the comments below.

Related content:
Preparing for your ECEI meeting
What to look for in early intervention supports