Who’s who in Early Childhood Intervention

Image of VisAbility therapist with young childVisAbility’s Manager of Therapy Services Seb Della Maddalena explores what it means to be an Early Childhood Intervention professional, and how this is changing with the roll out of the NDIS.

Disability professional service providers typically employ allied health professionals (therapists) from backgrounds in occupational therapy, speech pathology, and physiotherapy. Therapists working in Early Childhood Intervention are sometimes known as ECI professionals, but this term is not commonly used.

An ECI professional has knowledge in childhood development and skills in best practice in working with children with disability or developmental delay. The Early Childhood Intervention National Guidelines (link opens in new window) outline the focus for ECI professionals.

The NDIS requires service providers to establish new ways of delivering services, including the broadening of client groups. There is also an unprecedented number of new service providers delivering ECI services under the NDIS. How this looks in practice is that a therapist may be delivering both ECI services and aged care services often in the same day.

Are ECI providers simply a collective team of individual therapists, from different disciplines?

I argue that ECI professionals should be primarily defined by their expertise in this area. But I am yet to meet a therapist who primarily defines themselves as an ECI professional.

Other sectors acknowledge the expertise in working with children. For example – the roles that early childhood educators, paediatricians, and child health nurses all have in child development. The disability sector is catching up.

VisAbility staff member and two clients and a parent playing

So, what is the disability sector doing to ensure WA children with disability or developmental delay receive quality services from ECI professionals?

This month we see the roll out of the first Early Childhood Early Intervention Partner in WA. It’s an exciting time, as we will hopefully see young children receive quality ECI services and supports.

For more information on VisAbility’s ECI services, contact us today.