The NDIS Early Childhood Approach, formerly known as ECEI, plays a crucial role in supporting children aged 0-9 years who experience developmental delays or disabilities, along with their families or carers. This innovative approach is designed to facilitate better long-term outcomes for all such children, irrespective of their diagnosis, by providing essential support services within their local communities.

Early Childhood Partners: The Access Point

The NDIA has strategically partnered with experienced early childhood intervention service providers, referred to as Early Childhood Partners, to ensure the timely provision of NDIS support. These partners are carefully selected based on their strong clinical expertise and commitment to employing best-practice approaches. The NDIA closely monitors their performance and outcomes to guarantee that all children receive the highest quality and level of support.

Initiating the Journey

Eligibility Criteria:

To initiate the process, families or carers of children under 9 years old can contact an Early Childhood Partner if they:

  1. Have a child under 6 years of age with concerns about their development.
  2. Have a child under 9 years old with a disability.
No Need for Referral or Diagnosis:

Notably, there is no requirement for a referral from a health professional, and a diagnosis is not necessary. The process is designed to be accessible and inclusive, allowing families to seek support without unnecessary barriers.

Connecting with an Early Childhood Partner

Setting Up a Meeting:

Upon contacting an Early Childhood Partner, a meeting will be arranged at your home or their offices. This initial meeting may span multiple occasions, where they will engage in discussions about your concerns, learn about your family background, and assess your child’s developmental progress and its impact on everyday life.

Support Determination:

The Early Childhood Partner’s primary responsibility is to assist you in finding the necessary support. This may range from basic community connections to more complex requirements involving NDIS funding. The level of support needed for your child will be determined during this phase.

Support Implementation:

Early Childhood Partners play a pivotal role in connecting you and your child with appropriate supports in your area, such as community health centers and educational settings. Additionally, they will guide you through the process of requesting NDIS access if your child requires longer-term early childhood intervention supports.

Navigating NDIS Access

Applying for NDIS Access:

When the Early Childhood Partner determines that your child requires longer-term support for NDIS access, they will recommend that you apply for NDIS access. This process involves discussing your child’s needs and goals, evaluating existing support systems, and assessing their effectiveness.

Planning and Implementation:

Upon approval of the NDIS plan, your child will begin receiving NDIS funding. You have the flexibility to choose service providers and commence the plan’s implementation. The Early Childhood Partner will be actively involved in reviewing your child’s progress against the set goals.

Continuous Monitoring:

The Early Childhood Partner will guide you through the plan, help you access the MyGov Portal, and assist in managing your plan. They will monitor your progress until the plan review, where decisions will be made about plan renewal or exit from the NDIS.


The NDIS Early Childhood Approach serves as a pivotal pathway for families with young children facing developmental challenges. With Early Childhood Partners at the forefront, the journey involves comprehensive support, timely interventions, and a commitment to achieving the best possible outcomes for children aged 0-9 years. By understanding this approach, families can navigate the complexities of support systems and contribute to their child’s overall well-being.