Early intervention

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What are early intervention services?

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

Developmental milestones are a measure of your child's developmental abilities; for example:

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

A number of professionals can help your child to reach their potential by offering specialised guidance in everyday activities and play. Guidance may be given by professionals in services working together in your home. Guidance may also be given in your child's day care or preschool facility. The professionals providing this guidance may be your child's visiting therapist and/or early intervention teacher.

Who provides early intervention services?

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

  • The Ministry of Education, Special Education (see Special education before your child goes to school on this website)
  • New Zealand CCS (in several, but not all, areas of New Zealand)
  • Other local services; for example, Ohomairangi Trust in Auckland, McKenzie Centre in Hamilton and the Champion Centre in Christchurch

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

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.

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

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


Starship Foundation and the Paediatric Society of New Zealand acknowledge the cooperation of the Ministry of Education in the developmenty of this content.

This page last reviewed 08 May 2013
© Paediatric Society of New Zealand and Starship Foundation 2005 – 2016
Printed on 07 February 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