Best Practice in Early Childhood Intervention (ECI) the Team around the child

Families who visit Early Connections may hear our team talk about the transdisciplinary model.

This blog helps you understand a little more about how our team works collaboratively using the transdisciplinary model to support your child.

What is the transdisciplinary model

The NDIS considers the transdisciplinary model as best practice when supporting children, with disability and developmental delay, from 0-6 years of age.

The transdisciplinary model is also called the team around the child.

Early Connections Alliance adopt this approach for all our families with children aged 0-6 on the Mid North Coast.

This means that each child and family who attend Early Connections is partnered with a Key Worker. The Key Worker supports the family and coordinates the Early Childhood Intervention (ECI) team around the child.

Extended family and other members of the community, including Preschool Educators, are also considered part of the team around each child.

Why is the team around the child so important

Families and children have unique needs, so the team around the child will look different for each family.

“We know that Early Childhood Intervention service providers who are using key workers and the team around the child model are delivering best practice, and that this is recognised and promoted by the NDIS” said Caryn Maher Program Manager, Coffs Coast.

The ultimate goal of the transdisciplinary model is to support children to be the best they can be, to build acceptance within families and the community, and to guide and support families so they can sustain the energy to do the work that is needed.

How the transdisciplinary model helped Saya and her family

4 year old Saya (check age) was referred to Early Connections Coffs Coast when she was diagnosed with autism at a young age. 

“Diagnosis can be a big shock for families when children are very young, particularly if it isn’t obvious and wasn’t identified at birth,” said Anne Craigan, Key Worker and Early Childhood Special Education Teacher.  

When Saya first started at Early Connections, Anne was the main point of contact to support Saya and her family. Often Melissa,  Saya’s mum, just wanted to talk and ask questions. This was a good way for Melissa to better understand Saya’s unique support needs and adjust to working with the early childhood intervention team.

“Early Connections have been amazing. They want what is going to be the best for you and your family. The team we have put together and the work that we have all done has supported Saya to progress as much as she has.

Saya used to scream and self harm, it was chaos in our house and now Saya is much calmer. Early Connections have taught me so that I know exactly what I need to do. They have so much knowledge and they are really willing to give it to you. Saya has severe Autism and when she was diagnosed I was really out of my depth. I was grieving and I didn’t know what I was doing. I tell them sometimes, they saved me,”  said Melissa, Saya’s mum.

Why is having one main point of contact important?

The importance of having one point of contact in the early years means the complex needs of children and families can be addressed in a more personalised way.

If a family sees multiple professionals without the key worker coordination the service can be disjointed, confusing and overwhelming for families and children. The key worker model ensures families have the opportunity to form a trusting relationship with one person.

For a child with disabilities and delays in the early years, a one on one relationship with their key worker ensures consistency across service delivery.

“Saya’s mum knows she can call me at any time. We talked a lot during the first year. Melissa called me anytime she needed to talk. We formed a close trusting relationship,” added Anne.

Coordinating the team around the child

As the Key Worker, Anne coordinates the ‘team around the child’ to ensure Saya’s goals are being met. Anne coordinates education and therapy sessions so they are customised to meet Saya’s needs and goals.

Anne’s work includes bringing in additional therapists to Saya’s team. Saya’s team now includes Occupational Therapist Ann Crane and Speech Pathologist Kanti Saraswati.

An additional Occupational Therapist, Julia Doust, also has an established relationship with Saya and her family. This is essential for ease and consistency if team members are on leave.

“The team around the child works because everyone who supports Saya is working together and is focusing on the same goals. We all bring our different viewpoints and professional expertise about Early Childhood best practice, health and education to the conversation which creates a more effective support system for Saya and her family,” said Anne.

Saya’s team regularly updates each other about Saya’s progress duringcontact sessions with the family. The team collaborates during case conference meetings and shares notes the whole team can access.

Early Intervention Coffs Harbour

“We also do joint sessions with Saya’s family. This is where we can see the team around the child working best. With Saya we can’t work on speech without working on her sensory needs, which is where the OT comes in.  You can’t do one without the other, so they have to be integrated,” said Anne. 

Anne also works as the Special Education Teacher within the Team and supported Saya’s transition to Preschool. Anne coaches Early Childhood Educators at Saya’s Preschool to support inclusion.

“When Saya started preschool I visited the centre to share information about Saya and to make sure Melissa was able to build a relationship with the staff. Sometimes parents don’t feel happy about something that is happening at preschool and they don’t feel confident to discuss it with preschool staff.  During these situations Melissa might call me and because Early Connections has a long history of working relationships with many preschools in this area we can contact the preschool to ask how things are going.”Anne Craigan, Key Worker and Early Childhood Special Education Teacher

When and where can you access a key worker to support your child

Children ages 0-7 will need to contact your local NDIS ECEI Provider who will assist you to apply for NDIS services. Northcott is the Provider on the Mid North Coast.

If eligible for NDIS you will be contacted by an NDIS ECEI Provider to take part in a planning meeting and create a plan. Your NDIS plan is submitted to the NDIA for approval.

Once you have an NDIS Plan, contact an Early Childhood Intervention provider like Early Connections. 

We build a team around your child to make sure your family receives Excellence in Early Childhood Intervention. With 30 years experience connecting families to the best supports on the Mid North Coast you’re in the right place. Our team of experienced professionals work with you to give your family the support you need early to maximise your child’s potential.

We work in a number of ways following ECI Best Practice Guidelines to best suit your child’s needs. We offer individualised sessions for you and your child to help your child learn, grow and thrive.

Resources with more information about best practice early childhood intervention