Early intervention services giving children with the best start in life
Two independent evaluations have found the Australian Government’s investment in high-quality early intervention services are delivering positive results for children with autism and their families.Helping Children with Autism package, Autism Specific Early Learning and Care Centres
The Minister for Disability Reform, Jenny Macklin and the Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Carers, Senator Jan McLucas today welcomed the findings from independent consultants undertaken over the last three years.
ARTD Consultants found that the Government’s $220 million Helping Children with Autism package has increased access to early intervention services for families, as well as helping families to better understand autism and the services that are available to them.
Since 2008 more than 19,000 Australian children aged up to seven years have accessed more than 600,000 early intervention services through the package, including Autism Advisors, family support programs and playgroups.
The evaluation by O’Brien and Rich Research Group of the Government’s six Autism Specific Early Learning and Care Centres found that the centres’ comprehensive and quality early intervention services were highly valued by families.
Located in South Western Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide, North West Tasmania, Melbourne, and Perth, the centres deliver tailored early learning programs and support for children aged zero to six years with autism in a long day care setting.
They also support parents in caring for their children and give them more opportunities to participate in their community.
The evaluation of the Helping Children with Autism package recommended minor amendments to improve outcomes for children with autism and their families.
The Government has acted on these recommendations by improving communication with families and service providers through the ‘My Neighbourhood’ function on the Raising Children Network web page (www.raisingchildren.net.au), which helps parents locate services, introducing regular service provider newsletters and using new technologies such as electronic tablets to assist families to undertake therapy, including those in rural and remote areas.
We are also investing $600,000 to employ two Aboriginal Liaison Officers to work with families and services providers across Australia to increase Indigenous families’ access to early intervention services.
The Government is also considering recommendations to assist the Autism Specific Early Learning and Care Centres to provide further support for more children with autism and their families.
The Australian Government is firmly committed to improving support and care for children with autism and their families.
We know that providing support as early as possible can make a huge difference to their development and lifelong learning. Early intervention services better prepare children for school, help them participate in everyday activities, and give them the best chance of reaching their full potential.
These evaluations also provide an important evidence base around effective early intervention therapies and services as we prepare to launch a National Disability Insurance Scheme from the middle of next year.
The evaluations are available at: