Early Childhood Intervention Australia Victoria / Tasmania Limited (ECIA VIC/TAS) assists practitioners and organisations that provide services and support for young children with disability and/or developmental delay and their families. For more, please click here.

Every parent wants their child to have the best possible start in life – to be healthy, happy, have friends and to make their own way as they become an adult.

When you first learn that your child has a disability or developmental delay, you may feel a mix of emotions and you will have many questions. It certainly can be an overwhelming time.

You may feel unsure about what your child needs are and how to best provide for your child’s development. Many families find it challenging at first, as they to come to terms with the unexpected journey they find themselves travelling on. But, with resources, support and the right information, knowing how to assist your child’s development will become clearer.

The early years are important for children with disability or developmental delay, as they are for all children.  Children’s learning during this period shapes all their future development.  The early years is also an important time for the whole family.  Families learn how to support and nurture their child, how to meet their child’s needs, as well as how to adapt positively to the challenges disability or developmental delay might present.

Every parent looking for supports for their child will have their own unique story. One thing we know is similar for all children and families – when a family works together with their ECI Provider with tailored interventions, catering to their individual needs and priorities, the best possible outcomes can be achieved.

Early Childhood Intervention Australia has developed a set of guidelines  for early childhood intervention providers – The National Guidelines: Best Practice in Early Childhood Intervention.  These principles ensure high quality and appropriate early childhood interventions are delivered to you and your family.  You can use the Guidelines when choosing the right providers for your child and family.

So what do these guidelines say?

The Guidelines say that high quality early childhood intervention providers have the following eight features

Family-centred and Strengths-based Practice – Your family is seen as equal and active partners working with ECI practitioners. Goals and service delivery are based on your family life, priorities and choices. Practices build on your family’s strengths and assist you to develop your own set of resources.

Engaging the Child in Natural Environments promotes your child’s development through play, routines and interactions at home, in the community and in early childhood settings.

Collaborative Teamwork Practice – Your family, ECI practitioners and others work together as a team around your child. A key worker is nominated to coordinate the team.

Capacity Building Practice – Aims to build the skills and knowledge of people who spend the most time with your child so they will have a greater impact on your child’s learning and development.

Culturally Responsive Practice – ECI practitioners provide services and supports in ways that are sensitive and respectful of your family’s cultural, language and social backgrounds, as well as your values and beliefs.

Inclusive and Participatory Practice ensures that your child is fully included and participates meaningfully in home and community life, with additional supports as needed.

Evidence-based and Accountable Practice ensures that practitioners working with your child have appropriate qualifications and base their intervention on sound clinical evidence and research.

Outcomes-based Approach – Practitioners will focus on what you want for your child and family. They will work closely with you to achieve the best outcomes for your child by using their knowledge and expertise.

What should I ask when looking for the right ECI Provider?

When deciding if an ECI Provider is suitable for your child and family, the following questions are helpful to ask:

  • What are your service’s values and philosophies around supporting children with disability and/or developmental delays?
  • How would your service work in partnership with my family? How would parents or other family members be involved with the services delivered?
  • What are the fees charged for your services? Are these clearly outlined in the Service Agreement?
  • Will our family need to wait before accessing your services?
  • What type of qualifications and experience do your staff have?
  • How does your services encourage positive behaviour in children?
  • Do you have any information about your services that I could take home with me?
  • Where will my child get the support? – for example, at home, at kinder, playgroup or in group programs.
  • What can I do if I’m unhappy with the support you’re providing for my child?
  • How does the organisation incorporate the Best Practice principles?
  • Is the organisation a member of Early Childhood Intervention Australia (VIC/TAS)?

Meeting with your ECI Provider

Ask to meet face to face with the ECI service providers, rather than over the phone as you can often get more information this way. It is also a good idea to ask them to visit you in your home.  They will get a better sense of child and family needs, goals and priorities in your own setting.

Check out these helpful resources for more information:

The Inclusion Hub

Early Childhood Intervention Australia (VIC/TAS)

Raising Children Network – NDIS Plans: Choosing Service Providers

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