NDIS reform may see children receiving support in ECEC and school settings
Children with autism and developmental difficulties could receive support at school or in early childhood education and care (ECEC) settings under changes to the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) outlined in a recent review.
The review highlights the importance of early intervention and the key role early childhood education could play in fast-tracking access to crucial, tailored support for children with disability.
It recommends a shift to greater state-based provision of support services, delivered through ‘foundational supports’ in government settings where appropriate, such as in schools and childcare.
Specifically, it outlines the following actions to create opportunities for children of all backgrounds to reach their full potential:
- The National Cabinet should agree to jointly invest in early supports for children with emerging development concerns and disability…closely linked to and integrated with mainstream services, particularly education and early childhood services.
- All Australian governments should take steps to protect the right to inclusive education for children with disability and developmental concerns in early childhood education and care and schools.
- All Australian governments should agree as a matter of priority to expand universally available child development checks…implemented by mainstream services working with children including maternal child health, early childhood education and care and general practice.
The reforms were announced last week by Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, with a new system being introduced to deliver ‘foundational supports’ to help those who have additional needs outside of the bounds of the NDIS.
The Commonwealth and the states will split the costs of the new system, which aims to reduce pressure on the NDIS which has been described as “one of its top budget pressures”.
The NDIS has been widely projected to cost more than $100 billion within a decade as higher-than-forecast numbers of children join the scheme because their families can’t find help outside it.
Details of the new system are scant, with the system having not been designed as yet, or given a price tag. It is anticipated that the revised system will cater to the approximately 20 per cent of Australian children who have learning difficulties, developmental concerns or disabilities so that their families don’t all need to turn to the NDIS for support.
The proposed changes were welcomed by Thrive By Five Director Jay Weatherill who said that supporting children with a disability or with neurodiverse profiles should not be seen as a cost, but as an investment.
“One of the best places this investment can be made is through better access to early learning and we strongly encourage all governments to heed this review and implement these recommended changes.”
Children and Young People with Disability (CYDA), also welcomed the review, with CYDA CEO Skye Kakoschke-Moore saying she was heartened to see the report strongly focusing on the needs and experiences of children and young people with disability.
“More than half of the 630,000 people currently on the NDIS are aged 25 or under, meaning the changes outlined will significantly impact our youngest generations,” Ms Kakoschke-Moore said.
“CYDA supports the report’s call for a comprehensive and integrated system of supports that will enable all children and young people – regardless of their NDIS eligibility – to receive the supports and services they need.”
“It is now vital that state and federal governments take the time to get this right and continue listening to people with disability at every step.”
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