The early childhood approach

Help for children younger than 7

If your child is younger than 7 with a disability, or you are concerned about their development, you may be able to get help through our early childhood approach.

About the early childhood approach

Our nationally consistent early childhood approach is for children younger than 7 with developmental delay or disability, and their families. Children who do not fully meet the definition of developmental delay and have developmental concerns will also be supported through the early childhood approach. The early childhood approach was developed based on evidence-based research with the help of leading experts in early childhood intervention. 

The approach supports best practice in early childhood intervention because it helps the child and family to build their capacity and supports greater inclusion in community and every day settings, meaning each child will be provided with opportunities to grow and learn. It is about giving children and their families the right supports to enable them to have the best possible start in life. 

A child’s early years are very important as they set up how they will learn and develop later in life. Our early childhood approach focusses on being both family-centred and strengths-based. We do this by acknowledging that as parents and carers you know your child best. 

Our early childhood approach aims to:

  • provide timely support to ensure that you are able to access the supports you need
  • give you information about best-practice early childhood intervention supports and how you can help your child
  • increase your confidence and capacity to manage and respond to your child’s support needs
  • increase your child’s ability to do activities they need or want to do throughout their day
  • increase your child’s inclusion and participation in mainstream and community settings like childcare or recreation
  • give you information about, and referrals to, other support services if needed, like parent support groups.

Learn more about the early childhood approach in our guidelines - early childhood approach .

This video tells the story of one family’s journey through the NDIS early childhood approach. 

How the early childhood approach works

In many areas around Australia, early childhood partners are available to help you get the support your child needs through the early childhood approach. Early childhood partners are local organisations we fund to deliver the early childhood approach.

Reviewing the early childhood approach

The NDIA has commenced a review of its early childhood early intervention (ECEI) approach with families and children. To learn more, see the update on supporting young children and their families early, to reach their full potential

This page current as of
2 November 2021
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