Background on the NDIS
2016 saw the official roll-out of the National Disability Insurance Scheme in New South Wales. This system is the new method that affords individualised supports and services for people and their families living with a disability. To get funding, a person must be 65 years or under, and must show documented proof of their chronic medical condition (by way of reports or assessments from doctors and allied health professionals). The NDIS therefore supports children with disabilities. Additionally, an applicant must demonstrate how their disability is affecting their everyday life and independence.
When the NDIS reviews applications, it follows guidelines that assess the severity of the person’s disability and the level of supports required, then assigns commensurate funding. A plan is usually for a timeframe of 12 months.
One of the global principles of the NDIS is that it aspires to allow a person to have more choice and power about the supports they want to use.
What disabilities and conditions are included in the NDIS?
There is no finite list of the medical diagnoses that the NDIS will cover. Essentially, any diagnosed condition that is seriously affecting a child’s functional capacity and is preventing them from engaging in their daily activities may be covered. Examples of medical conditions commonly supported by the NDIS are:
- Speech, language and communication conditions or disorders
- Brain injury
- ADD and ADHD
- Down Syndrome
- Cerebral Palsy
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Hearing or vision impairments
- Intellectual disability
- Psychiatric conditions
- Physical disability
What NDIS supports for children with disabilities are available?
A child with a disability or permanent medical condition usually is already receiving increased supports at their school, however the NDIS can assist the child and their family by offering additional supports. The types of supports and services that your child may utilise under the program will depend on their plan, and how their funding has been allocated. A child’s plan will have been devised taking into account their level of disability, current support unit, and personal goals. To attempt to simplify the funding structure for clients, the NDIS has categorised supports into three main regions:
- Core supports are services that assist people to complete activities of daily living and function and participate in the community. Often, this involves working with disability support workers (e.g. for assistance at home or with self-care tasks, or increasing social activity by taking children out into the community), or using transport services to attend appointments and social events.
- Capital support funding is the section that encompasses equipment and assistive technology. This can be used to cover costs to purchase necessary equipment, home modifications, vehicle modifications and assistive devices such as bath mats, hand rails or shower chairs.
- Capacity building supports envelope therapy from allied health services, such as psychology, occupational therapy, speech therapy and physiotherapy.
Using NDIS supports for children with disabilities
It is vital to note that the NDIS participant assumes responsibility for handling their funding and choosing what supports and services they would like to engage in. For children, this usually means that their parent or guardian manages their package. The types of supports a client can employ will depend on their NDIS package and how much funding is allocated to each service category. As such, a child’s parent/guardian must designate funding usage to best meet the goals of the NDIS plan.
Perhaps the first step for parents and guardians is to search for services that are appropriate for their children. As the NDIS has drastically opened up the disability services sector, new organisations are emerging at a fast rate, and will hopefully meet the growing demand of people with disabilities. Looking for a service will generally involve seeking advice from your child’s coordinator or community case worker, contacting your GP or specialist, accessing the NDIS registered service provider list on the NDIS website, or performing an internet search.
Following finding and contacting a suitable service, the next step commonly involves the client signing a service agreement with the service, where the goals and expectations for the services/supports are outlined, as well as important information about delivery of services (e.g. how long a session will be, costs). Depending on what category of funding is being used, the therapist or support worker will then commence sessions with the child as per the agreement. For assistive technology and equipment, the NDIS will often ask for reports or assessments by a health professional (such as a speech therapist or occupational therapist) that outlines why the child requires the resource before releasing the funding.
How the service receives remuneration for providing the support will then be contingent on whether or not the child’s NDIS plan is self, agency (by the NDIS) or managed (by a plan manager).