This post is aimed at those newly diagnosed in Auckland specifically. Rules can vary in different parts of NZ and also if your child has different disabilities.
There is a whole confusing range of support you can call upon that will not necessarily be pointed out to you upon diagnosis.
Parents can refer directly to the service or you can be referred by your doctor or specialist.
Early Intervention services are mainly provided by the Ministry of Education Early Intervention teams, but there are a few other providers contracted by the Ministry to support families of children with disabilities, for example: CCS Disability Action have the contract for high need children where as the MOEs Group Special Education (GSE) have both the high and moderate needs contract in Auckland. This may be different in other parts of NZ.
You can phone your regional Ministry office or other Early Intervention provider, fill in a referral form, or send a letter or email. Try to give as much information as possible about your concerns and what help you would like. Include any information, like observations and/or learning stories that describe what you have noticed and recognised, how you have responded and what’s been helpful.
For us, we had an EIT (Early Intervention Teacher) who basically coordinated help needed and a SLT (Speech Language Therapist) provided by GSE.
We were referred to the Child Development Team (CDT) for OT and physio but didn’t provide us with further help other than assessment. We then got referred back to the OT before starting school and for her first few months at school to help with sensory and motor skill issues.
We had an Education Support Worker (ESW) that helped Isla attend kindy. When we applied we were lucky to get help for her as the rules were changing ! Funding cuts/restructuring. Also she had a psychologist for a short time to help with behavioural issues that they never replaced for the same reason.
We also paid for private OT and speech therapy.
Through the SLT we attended the Hanen More than Words course which was really helpful.
When a child starts school the early intervention service abruptly stops.
We had to transition Isla to school in December although she wasn’t starting until February as Isla’s ESW wasn’t funded the following year!
If you decide to keep your child in daycare or kindy until 6 years old you may be able to retain EIT and OT support but may lose the SLT and ESW.
The SLT may carry on when your child starts school working with the teacher giving them teaching strategies rather than working directly with the child.
We had access to the OT for a few months but this is not the norm. It was because the OT was provided a little to late to help with school transition.
If your child has high or very high needs and are at school they might get extra support from the Ministry’s Special Education team through a range of services such as:
* Resource Teacher: Learning and Behaviour (RTLB) * Ongoing Resourcing Scheme (ORS) * School High Health Needs Fund (SHHNF)
Further info can be found by clicking on the following link:
An RTLB was assigned to Isla when starting school to help with strategies to help with behaviour and learning in the classroom and they applied for ORS funding when we realised mainstream wasn’t the best place for Isla. We had actually also applied for ORS before starting school but got turned down.
ORS funding gave us the option of keeping Isla in mainstream schooling which she found challenging, even with supports already in place, or to enroll her in Somerville School where she could attend the satellite class within the school she already attended. We enrolled her in Sommerville School. Her school provides the extra support she needs in terms of therapists, adapted curriculum and teacher aides.
If you were in the mainstream with ORS funding the assistance you would receive would still be determined by the MOE I believe.
There is a range of financial support that you can apply for.
Child Disability Allowance
Child Disability Allowance is a fortnightly payment made to the main carer of a child or young person with a serious disability. It is paid in recognition of the extra care and attention needed for that child. It is not means tested.
This requires your child’s doctor or paediatrician to complete a form and is reassessed every few years depending on what they mark as the review period.
Needs Assessor Service Coordinator NASC (Taikura Trust in Auckland)
The first step to get the funding you require to provide additional support for your child is to meet with a Needs Assessor. They may not provide much support for a child 2 years and under however as they dont believe their additional needs require much more effort than a typical developing baby/toddler.
Taikura Trust is the Auckland’s single facilitator of needs assessment and service coordination for support services, for people under 65 years who has a physical, intellectual, sensory impairment, or autism.
The needs assessor will meet with you and decide what supports they can put in place to help support the carer and child.
Also they can make referrals for behavioural support.
I attended a behaviour course at Timato Hou (subsidiary of IHC) and had a pyschologist work alongside us at home who Taikura referred us to. Unfortunately she couldn’t provide strategies for school where the behaviour was taking place as this is a different department.
There is also a service called Explore who provide specialist behaviour support services for those eligible for disability support services and who present with challenging behaviour. The wait list for this is very long so a good idea to go on it early!
Examples of support Taikura can help you access:
Carer Support is a subsidy funded by the Ministry of Health to assist the unpaid, full-time carer of a disabled person to take a break from caring for that person.
This can be used to part pay for therapy where the provider allows it.
Home Based Support
Meal preparation, washing, drying or folding clothes, house-cleaning, vacuuming and tidying up.
Eating and drinking, getting dressed and undressed, getting up in the morning and getting ready for bed, showering and going to the toilet, getting around your home.
Respite is designed to provide short-term breaks for the carers of a disabled person, while also providing a positive, stimulating and worthwhile experience for the disabled person.
To facilitate this funding you have 2 options.
Either going through a Service Provider such as Idea Services who will provide a carer at specified times for personal care and a respite facility to utilise that funding.
Opting for Individualised Funding This gives you increased choice and control to choose who provides this support, and how and when you use it. You can employ your own care providers and manage all aspects of service delivery. Respite care can be provided in the home.
For Isla we have personal care and respite hours through IF. I found its important to work out what you are entitled to and what you actually need before meeting with your NASC. For example I needed someone in the home to help with Isla while I was cooking dinner for example or running around our other children to their activities. Respite gives us time out or let’s us do more family activities for our other girls.
I hope this helps someone trying to navigate their way through the system.