Early intervention

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What are early intervention services?

All children develop at different rates but sometimes delays in development are of concern and can be helped by specialist support.

Children can show delays in one or more areas of their development. These include:

  • gross motor skills (rolling, crawling, walking)
  • fine motor skills (reaching and grasping a toy, threading beads)
  • play skills (peek-a-boo, water play)
  • communication skills (babbling, saying words, talking in sentences)
  • cognitive skills (learning colours and shapes, problem solving)

Early intervention services provide support for preschool children who need help with their development.

Who provides early intervention services?

There are a range of early intervention providers in New Zealand. These differ around New Zealand and include, but are not limited to:

  • child development services (see below)
  • the Ministry of Education (see Special education before your child goes to school on this website)
  • other local services; for example, Ohomairangi Trust in Auckland, McKenzie Centre in Hamilton, the Champion Centre in Christchurch, NZ CCS

When you contact an early intervention provider, they should give you information about the alternatives available in your area.

Child development services

Families can access therapy services for their child, from birth, through their local district health board.

Therapy services include:

  • occupational therapy
  • physiotherapy
  • speech language therapy

There are some differences, depending on where in New Zealand you live. Generally, however, these services sit within, or alongside, paediatric or community health services within your local health or hospital service.

The child development teams are usually multidisciplinary. They may have any of the following professionals:

  • cultural support workers
  • dietitians
  • occupational therapists
  • physiotherapists
  • social workers
  • family therapists
  • speech language therapists
  • visiting therapists
  • psychologists

Referral can be made through your Needs Assessment and Service Coordination (NASC) Service (see the needs assessment page), paediatrician, family doctor or other health professional. Some child development services accept self-referrals. Child development teams will refer on to, and work with, other service providers; for example, preschool educational services.

Where can I go for more information about early intervention providers?

Your family doctor, paediatrician, social worker or your local needs assessment service can advise you about finding an early intervention programme to suit your child. See the needs assessment page for details about how to contact a needs assessment service in your area. You can also call Enable New Zealand free on 0800 171 981. They can give you some contact details for early intervention providers in your area.

This page last reviewed 01 March 2016
© Paediatric Society of New Zealand and Starship Foundation 2005 – 2016
Printed on 30 April 2016. Content is regularly updated so please refer to www.kidshealth.org.nz for the most up-to-date version
Content endorsed by the Paediatric Society of New Zealand