Do you have a child under 7 with a disability or developmental delay? They could be eligible to get support from the Early Childhood Early Intervention (ECEI).
ECEI aims to improve the quality of life for you and your child by giving them access to a wide range of useful supports early in their life.
What is ECEI?
ECEI is how the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) provides support to children under 7 years’ old.
One of the main goals of ECEI is to enable children with disability or developmental delay to develop their skills and take part in day-to-day activities. By providing this support as early as possible in a child’s life, ECEI aims to minimise the amount of complex supports they may require when they grow up.
Who’s eligible for ECEI?
If your child is between 0-6 years and has a disability or developmental delays, they’re likely to be eligible for ECEI. Because ECEI is based on early intervention, you don’t need to get a formal diagnosis to access it. Instead, written statements from people close to your child, like teachers, family, or carers, are usually enough to highlight why ECEI would be good for them.
A simple method they can use is the Antecedent-Behaviour-Consequence (ABC) Model. This is commonly used in child psychology as a way of examining patterns of behaviour. It involves writing down the event or situation that triggered a certain behaviour (the Antecedent), what that behaviour was (the Behaviour), and the positive or negative consequences of that behaviour (the Consequences). Using the ABC Model should help show why your child would benefit from ECEI.
How does it work?
Just like the NDIS, ECEI aims to give you choice and control over the support your child receives. It does this by giving you funding that you can then use to access supports from providers you feel are best suited to your child.
The amount of funding they receive – and what it can be spent on – will depend on their individual situation. This includes things like your child’s support needs, the informal network (such as family) they have around them, and the goals they want to achieve with the support of ECEI.
These key details are all recorded in what’s called an ECEI Plan. This is a document that basically provides an overview of your child’s ECEI journey, how much budget they’ve been given, and the type of supports they can access with that budget.
What kind of supports are funded through ECEI?
There are many useful supports that ECEI can fund, the majority of which are designed to improve children’s day-to-day life and build their independence and skills.
Most (if not all) ECEI plans include funding for therapies. Depending on your child’s needs and goals, these can be used to access supports like speech therapy, Occupational Therapy (OT), psychology, or exercise physiology. Another common support is low cost assistive technology, such as iPads, that allow therapy or other supports to be accessed remotely. Consumables, like continence products, can also be funded through ECEI.
The specific type of supports your child can access will depend on their ECEI plan, as some funding can be spent on a wide variety of supports, while other funding is given for a specific support only.
How do I apply for ECEI?
The first formal step of your child’s ECEI journey is a planning meeting with an Early Childhood Partner. These are experts who will work closely with you both to understand your child’s situation and support needs and then create their ECEI plan. They will also answer any questions you may have and can even connect you with appropriate supports in your local area.
There are some things you can do before this meeting to give yourself the best chance of getting an outcome you’re happy with.
Firstly, gather any supporting evidence that shows your child’s support needs. These can be letters for people close to them, or a formal statement from a health professional (although this isn’t needed) but try to give the Early Childhood Partner a clear picture of your child’s life and how they might benefit from ECEI.
Secondly, think about what you and your child would like to achieve with the support of ECEI. These goals are an important part of your child’s ECEI Plan, as any supports you access should be able to be linked back to them.
Can I receive support with managing my child’s plan?
Yes. For many parents, dealing with an ECEI plan and managing budgets and invoices can be very overwhelming. This is why the NDIS has made it possible to access a service called plan management.
A plan manager is a professional who looks after all your day-to-day ECEI admin, like paying providers’ invoices and keeping records of all the supports your child has received. There’s no cost to you for this service; if you ask for it in your planning meeting, you’ll get funding for it in your child’s ECEI Plan. If you choose Plan Partners as your plan manager, you’ll also get access to our Dashboard, a handy online tool that makes it easier to manage your child’s budgets. Through the Dashboard, you can track spending, approve invoices and get handy tips to get the most out of your child’s funds. You can also reach out to our team of passionate and caring experts for all questions about your ECEI funding.
The NDIS also offers additional support, called support coordination, for parents who find it particularly difficult to understand their child’s ECEI Plan or connect with service providers. This could be for a range of reasons, such as language barriers, intellectual disabilities, or having a limited support network around them to help ease the load. A support coordinator will help them overcome these barriers so they can understand and implement their child’s plan, including finding and connecting them with the best providers for their child’s situation. While anyone can get funding for plan management, support coordination is only available to those deemed eligible for support coordination by the NDIS.
What happens when my child turns 7?
Once your child turns 7, they will no longer be able to continue receiving supports through ECEI.
If they have a permanent disability and you would like them to transition to the NDIS, a formal diagnosis is required. If that’s the case, the NDIS will contact you before your child’s seventh birthday to ensure the transition is simple and smooth for you and your child.