Focus on mainstream support for children with additional needs in South Australia

by Freya Lucas

December 03

The needs of the child – not the label of their diagnosis – will be the forefront of a “new simplified model” of funding recently announced by the South Australian Department of Education.

 

Children with additional needs are to be supported under a new model of funding being introduced to the South Australian early childhood education and care (ECEC) sector, and the education sector more broadly, in 2019.

 

In information outlining the funding change on their website, the Department of Education say the new model will reduce red tape, and put in place a new, more straightforward application and assessment process for preschoolers and school students with complex needs, and those who need extra support.

 

At the heart of the new model, the Department says, is the belief that every child has the right to a quality education, with the new arrangements designed to support children and students to belong to a preschool or school community, engage purposefully in learning and experience inclusion and academic success.

 

The new funding model was designed in collaboration with parent groups, disability advocates and school and preschool representatives.

 

Under the new model, eligibility for support is aligned with the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (DDA), Disability Standards for Education 2005 and the nationally consistent data collection on preschool and school students with disability.

Children and students will be able to access funded support-based on an assessment of need, rather than a disability diagnosis or label.

The approach of “need, not diagnosis or label”, the Department said, supports and recognises that all disabilities and learning difficulties, including mental health, trauma, complex behaviours and health care needs require fair and equitable allocation of funding across similar child/student cohorts.

 

Offering specific guidelines for preschools, the announcement outlined information about funding for preschool children with additional needs, summarised below:

 

  • All government preschools will automatically receive funding for children with disability or additional needs each year without the need formal assessments. This means that children will have the right supports in place more quickly.

 

  • Parents and preschool staff will together work through a personalised planning process to discuss how children can be best supported and what additional supports may be required.

 

  • Preschools will document the goals, types of adjustment and funding allocated in a child’s preschool profile. This information will travel with your child when they start school.

 

  • Preschool children who are assessed as having high support needs in 2018 will be automatically funded at this level or above when they commence school in 2019.

 

  • This funding will reflect the type and frequency of interventions required and will be communicated with student support services and enrolling schools by the end of term 4, 2018.

 

More information about the funding, and the announcement in full, can be accessed here.

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