If your child under seven years old has a developmental delay or disability, you may be able to get support through the NDIS early childhood approach.
This article explains what the early childhood approach is, how to access it and what support services you may be eligible for.
To speak to someone about your child accessing the NDIS under seven years old, you can call an early childhood partner in your local area.
Early childhood partners can help you find the support and services that are right for your situation.
What is the NDIS?
The NDIS (National Disability Insurance Scheme) is a government funded scheme which provides support for people living with a disability.
The NDIS is managed by the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA).
To be eligible for the NDIS, you must be aged between seven and 65 years old and live with a disability that is likely to be lifelong.
Find out more about what the NDIS is and how it works.
While a child can't access the NDIS under seven years old, if you have a child younger than seven who has a disability or developmental delay, you may be able to access support through the early childhood early intervention approach.
The NDIS will progressively be expanding support for children under nine years old from 1 July 2023.
NDIS for a child under seven years old
The early childhood early intervention (ECEI) approach is how the NDIS supports children under seven years old and their families.
If your child is living with a developmental delay or disability, or you have developmental concerns, they could be eligible for support from the early childhood approach, even if they are not likely to be eligible for the NDIS when they turn seven.
What is the early childhood early intervention approach with NDIS?
The purpose of the early childhood approach is to provide early intervention supports to kids and their families throughout a child's first six years, to ensure they get the best start to life.
- Helping you access early support so your child can grow, learn and work towards their goals.
- Improving your child's inclusion in the community.
- Providing information and resources to build your confidence in managing your child's needs.
- Connecting you with other services and support providers in your local community.
How to access the NDIS for a child under seven years
To access the NDIS early childhood approach for a child under seven years, you can contact the NDIA directly or you may be referred by a health professional.
The steps below explain things to keep in mind during the process.
1. Talk with a health professional
A good first step is to talk with a health or education professional about your child's development. They may recommend you to the NDIA.
You don't need a formal diagnosis to receive support from the early childhood approach.
However you may need to explain how your child's developmental delay or disability impacts their life, and why they would benefit from the early childhood early intervention (ECEI) approach.
You may want to gather supporting evidence such as letters from health professionals, teachers and family members to give the NDIA a picture of your child's life.
2. Contact an early childhood partner
An early childhood partner is a local organisation that the NDIS funds to support your child and family through the early childhood process.
Your local early childhood partner will set up a planning meeting with you to discuss your child's situation and what supports they might need.
They can also answer any questions you might have and connect you with other local services that might be relevant.
3. Create your child's plan
The early childhood partner will help create a plan for your child which outlines the types of support and services they can access, as well as the budget they have been allocated.
You are in control of choosing your child's service providers.
Your child's plan will be made in line with your child's goals, the goals you have for your child and what you hope the ECEI support will achieve.
4. Ask for plan management support if you need
If you need help managing your child's plan, including managing invoices and NDIS funding, you can request a plan management professional in your planning meeting.
This service is free for you to access.
Another service to consider is a support coordinator.
They can help you if you have trouble understanding your child's plan or connecting with service providers.
What happens when my child turns seven?
While your child cannot access the NDIS under seven years old, when your child does turn seven, your local early childhood partner can guide you through the next steps.
If your child is living with a permanent disability that affects their ability to participate in everyday tasks, they may be eligible to become an NDIS participant when they turn seven years old and receive NDIS funding for longer-term support.
You may need to complete an access request form and provide supporting evidence from a health professional.
Find out more: How to access the NDIS.
If your child is not eligible for the NDIS once they turn seven, your local early childhood partner can connect you with other appropriate supports and services in your local area if you need them.
Do you need support as a parent?
As your child's primary carer, looking after yourself is crucial.
Don't be afraid to reach out for help when you need it.
If your child is accessing the NDIS under seven years old, you may be able to receive some supports through the early childhood early intervention approach.
These include connecting you with parenting support groups and counselling services.
If you are wanting to get back to work once your child starts school and live in QLD, SA or VIC, you could be eligible for the ParentsNext program.
If you are living with an injury, illness or disability yourself, you may be eligible for Disability Employment Services.
Head to our Health and disability blog to find helpful articles about employment and living with an injury, illness or disability, such as jobs for people with ADHD.
You can find more information about the NDIS for a child on the NDIS website.