Special Education Early Intervention Service

Through the Early Intervention Service, children may receive support from:

  • advisors on deaf children
  • early intervention teachers
  • education support workers
  • kaitakawaenga (Māori cultural advisors)
  • psychologists
  • speech-language therapists.

The Early Intervention teams work closely with specialists from the Ministry of Health, such as audiologists, physiotherapists, paediatricians, dieticians and occupational therapists to ensure children who need extra support are able to access it.

How the Early Intervention Service works

Who do we work with?

We work with families and early childhood educators who ask for help when they are concerned about the learning and development of young children. This may concern a child’s developmental delay, disability, behaviour and/or communication difficulties.

The service can work with children from birth until they start school.

How to get support

You can contact us for help, but it must be with the parents’ agreement and full understanding of the reason for referral. Parents can also refer directly to the service.

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 (Auckland, Christchurch and Dunedin)
  • Ohomairangi Trust (Auckland)
  • McKenzie Centre (Hamilton)
  • Conductive Education (Hamilton and Christchurch)
  • Wellington Early Intervention Trust
  • Champion Centre (Christchurch). 

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.

There is some variation in the way the various Early Intervention providers work, so it’s best to discuss this directly with them. The description below applies to the Ministry’s Early Intervention teams.

Ministry Early Intervention teams

The Early Intervention Service works in teams of specialists. Depending on the family/whānau’s needs, the team might include a:

  • speech-language therapist
  • early intervention teacher
  • psychologist
  • advisor on deaf children
  • kaitakawaenga (Māori cultural advisor).

Early Intervention people involved might also include specialists from health teams, such as neuro-development therapists, audiologists, physiotherapists and occupational therapists.

What happens after the child and family/whānau are referred to the Ministry?

An Early Intervention team member will contact the family/whānau. The team member will meet with the family/whānau and have an in-depth conversation to find out what their concerns and priorities are. They will also gather information from others, such as early childhood education (ECE) educators and health professionals. A plan is then developed for how to achieve agreed goals.

There will be one person from the team who the family/whānau link with and others may become involved to help with specific goals. For example, a speech-language therapist may assist if one of the family/whānau’s goals is to support their child with communication. The team will work with the adults who spend the most time with the child at the family/whānau’s home or early childhood education setting, as this is the most natural setting for the child.

Sometimes an education support worker (ESW) is provided by Special Education for a few hours each week to assist with including the child at their ECE centre. Read more about how ESWs work in ECE [PDF, 2 MB].

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