Support for Early Intervention for Children with Disability
21 December 2011 at 3:48 pm
Early intervention programs for children with disability have received support from a KPMG review that recommends the Federal Government’s Better Start for Children with Disability initiative be expanded.
The review also recommended that early intervention therapies be integrated into the development of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).
The Australian Government commissioned KPMG to review the effectiveness of early childhood intervention and to review the Better Start for Children with Disability initiative.
Better Start for Children with Disability is a $147 million initiative of the Australian Government that gives children under the age of six who have been diagnosed with cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, Fragile X syndrome, or moderate or greater vision or hearing impairment including deafblindness, access to up to $12,000 in flexible early intervention funding.
Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Carers, Jan McLucas said report will provide valuable input as the foundation of the NDIS is built.
McLucas said, “We know that investing in early intervention for children with disabilities before they get to school gives them the best chance of reaching their full potential.”
About 20,000 children under the age of 15 years can access new Medicare services for diagnosis and allied health treatment under this program. Since the introduction of Better Start, more than 2600 families have registered, with an average of 122 signing up every week since July.
The Productivity Commission identified that giving people more choice about the services they receive would be an essential feature of a National Disability Insurance Scheme.
The review says the current Better Start initiative does not tailor the level of support provided to individual child and family needs, however by giving families control over how their support is directed, Better Start does allow for significant tailoring and personalisation of intervention strategies to families’ circumstances.
One of the concerns raised by the review was around determining eligibility. The review says diagnosis-based eligibility assessments excludes a large number of families who need support – almost all stakeholders consulted observed that a significant number of children who require support do not have a diagnosis.
The review warned that a diagnostically-based system of assessment creates a situation where families seek out a diagnosis in order to become eligible for support, thereby emphasising their child’s needs rather than strengths.
The review provides three options for the Government to move forward and act on the findings of the review.
For more information, visit www.fahcsia.gov.au/betterstart