Early Childhood Early Intervention

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Early Childhood Early Intervention Approach

The Early Childhood Early Intervention (ECEI) Approach is how the NDIS is working with Early Childhood Providers to deliver early childhood intervention for children aged 0-6 years.

The overall aim of ECEI is to ensure that parents or primary caregivers are able to provide young children who have developmental delay or disabilities with experiences and opportunities that help children gain and use the functional skills they need to participate meaningfully in their environment.

The National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) recognises that timely access to best-practice early childhood intervention is vital for children with developmental delay or disability to ensure that they achieve the best possible outcomes throughout their life. The ECEI approach aims to ensure children are provided with the right level of support at the right time for the right length of time.

Working in collaboration with sector experts, evidence-based research has been used to design Early Childhood Early Intervention (ECEI) as a family-centred approach. The NDIA will engage Early Childhood Providers around Australia, called Early Childhood Partners who in their work with the family will use their clinical and specialist expertise in Early Childhood Intervention to understand the child’s developmental delay or disability and the impact on their everyday functioning. Together they will identify goals and using their expertise, the Early Childhood Partner will discuss evidence based supports that can help meet the goals of the child and family.

The type of supports offered will be different for every child and their family according to their individual needs.  The Early Childhood Partners enables the NDIA to be implemented at a community level. 

The Role of the Early Childhood Partner

The Early Childhood Partners are suitably experienced and qualified organisations with strong local knowledge and understanding of the needs of children and their families to deliver the ECEI Services.

The Early Childhood Partner will be the first contact point for families. The Early Childhood Partner will discuss with the family the most appropriate supports that would benefit the child. This includes providing information and referral to other support services or organisations. Understanding that every child is different, the Early Childhood Partners will tailor the supports to the child and family’s individual needs and circumstances.

The NDIS Early Childhood Partners may:

  • Provide information
  • Refer the family to a mainstream service like a Community Health Service, playgroups or peer support group
  • Identify if a child may benefit from some short term intervention and provide those services. For example, if a child has developmental delay with a primary speech delay, some initial speech therapy can be provided by the early childhood partner which, over time, will assist to inform the child’s longer term support needs
  • Identify that a child requires long-term specialised early childhood intervention supports then assist the family to request access to the NDIS, submitting the required information and evidence to the National Access team.
  • Undertake the planning process with families who receive access to the NDIS
  • Coordinate a combination of the options above.

Accessing ECEI in your area

The ECEI approach is being implemented in line with the scheduled full-scheme roll out of the NDIS.

Please see the relevant link for your State/Territory on the right hand side menu on the top of this page.

If ECEI is available in your area, the ECEI approach utilises the existing referral pathways into early childhood intervention through maternal child health, paediatricians and GPs. Families are able to self-refer to their local Early Childhood Partner or make contact with the NDIA through the call centre and you will be directed to an Early Childhood Partner in your local area.

Key Features of the ECEI approach

Capacity building

The focus of capacity building is to ensure children and their families are connected into their communities. This can be achieved in two ways:

  • Personal capacity building - making sure children and their families have the skills, resources and confidence they need to participate in the community or access the same kind of opportunities or services as other children and families.
  • Community capacity building - making sure mainstream services or community organisations become more inclusive of people with disability

Building community inclusion is pivotal to the ECEI approach and will be implemented through awareness raising, peer support, resource provision and information collection.


The ECEI approach builds on the strengths and capacity of the family and supports greater inclusion in a child’s everyday environments.

The approach will deliver a service that supports a partnership between the child’s family or primary caregivers and professionals.

The ECEI approach empowers a family’s decision-making and ensures the values and needs of the whole family are considered to improve the child’s development. Through education, the approach aims to empower families to understand best practice early childhood early intervention supports, and increase their confidence in managing their child’s support needs.

Everyday Environments

Research and evidence shows children learn and develop best in their natural, everyday settings.

Through the ECEI approach, supports can be offered in a range of everyday environments such as at home, childcare, playgroup, sporting and community activities. Families and carers will also be supported to help their children develop and use new skills in these environments.

More information

To find out when the NDIS will be available in your area visit your state or territory page.

Early Childhood Early Intervention Journey

Early Childhood Early Intervention Journey. 1. connect with an ECEI partner. 2. Get some helpful information. 3. Work out support needs. 4. Referral services and supports. 5. NDIS access. 6. Monitor progress

More information

You can read more about the ECEI approach in the following documents:

In April 2016, the NDIA presented a webinar to outline the ECEI approach and to answer your questions. You can watch the webinar, or read the full transcript, on the external ECEI webinar page.

To find out when the NDIS will be available in your area, please visit the Our Sites page.

You can also refer to the Raising Children Network website