Needs Assessment Service Coordination (NASC)

Needs Assessment Service Coordination (NASC)

If your child has a long-term disability, a needs assessment is a step towards getting support or services for your child and family.


What is a needs assessment?

If your child has a long-term disability, you may be able to have a needs assessment. This is a meeting to find out what you and your whānau need to help support your child.

As well as a needs assessment, other financial support may be available because of your child's extra needs. 

Find out about financial help when your child has a disability or chronic condition

Who carries out needs assessments?

Your local Needs Assessment and Service Coordination (NASC) service will do the needs assessment with you. 

NASC services

NASC (Needs Assessment and Service Coordination) services have 2 parts.

NA (needs assessment)

This is working with you to figure out what support needs your child and whānau have.

SC (service coordination)

This is working with you to explore how best to organise the support and services you need to help your child.

NASC services in Aotearoa

Around Aotearoa, each NASC has a different name.

  • Northland - NorthAble
  • Auckland - Taikura Trust
  • Waikato - Disability Support Link
  • Bay of Plenty/Lakes - Support Net Kupenga Hao Ite Ora
  • Tairawhiti - Life Unlimited
  • Hawkes Bay - NASC Hawkes Bay
  • Taranaki - Access Ability Taranaki
  • Wanganui - Access Ability Wanganui
  • Manawatu - Enable New Zealand Needs Assessment & Service Coordination
  • Wairarapa - Focus
  • Wellington - Life Unlimited
  • Nelson/Marlborough - Support Works
  • Canterbury/West Coast - LifeLinks
  • Otago - Access Ability
  • Southland - Southland

Check your region for your local NASC service

Screenshot of may of Aotearoa for local NASC

Can my child have a needs assessment?

Not everyone can have a needs assessment. Talk to your doctor or contact your local NASC about whether your child can have one. The Ministry of Health decides the kinds of problems children must have to be able to have a needs assessment.

If your child's disability is the result of an accident, you will need to talk to ACC (Accident Compensation Corporation).

How do I arrange a needs assessment?

One of the health or community team working with you and your child can refer your child to a NASC service. You can also contact a NASC service directly, without a referral from your doctor. But, you will need to provide supporting letters from a doctor.

What happens when I request a needs assessment?

Once you've requested a needs assessment, an assessment facilitator will make an appointment to come and see you at a time that works for you. This is usually at your home, but you can ask for it to be somewhere else.

During the needs assessment

The facilitator will listen to you, try and understand what your disability support needs are, and whether your child and your family are receiving enough support.

The assessment will include your child's support needs, the needs of those caring for your child, and the needs of other children who live with your child.

Support for your needs assessment

You can have support people with you.

You can ask for a needs assessor who is Māori, and can have the assessment in te Reo Māori.

You can ask for an interpreter for your assessment if English is not your main language. NASC agencies will try to organise this. It may not be possible to get interpreter services for all languages in all areas of New Zealand.

You are the expert on your child's needs

You and your facilitator should be partners in the assessment process.

What happens once the assessment is complete?

The NASC assessor will write a report and send you a copy.

They will tell you what local supports are available for you and your child. The service coordinator will help you to access and coordinate these services. 

Usually, the support is an amout of money. You can use this in different ways.

Respite or carer support days

Support might include respite or carer support days for a number of days each year. Usually, this is money paid to a carer that you choose.

Caring for a child with extra needs places extra demands on you. It's important for you to get a break. Respite days allow you to take time out for yourself or spend time with other family members. 


You may be able to use some of the respite care money to buy items (such as a trampoline) to help your child.

Individualised funding

Some families choose to manage the respite care money themselves. This is called individualised funding. Talk to your NASC assessor to find out more.

Respite care in a facility

If your child has a severe disability, you may also be able to access some respite for your child in a facility. Talk to your NASC assessor to find out more.

What if I disagree with the assessment or service coordination?

If you are not happy with your assessment, ask your NASC for a review of its decision. You can request a review if you are not satisfied with the outcome of any part of the NASC process.

If you are unhappy with your NASC service, you can make a complaint. Ask your NASC service about its complaints process and advice on how to make a complaint.

You can withdraw from the assessment process at any time but this may affect your eligibility for disability services.

What if my situation changes?

If something changes in your family and your support needs change, you can ask for another assessment from the NASC.

Changes could include the following:

  • you have a new baby in the family
  • you start caring for an elderly parent

Check the things you can expect from your NASC


The content on this page has been produced by the Paediatric Society of New Zealand in collaboration with Carers New Zealand. It has been developed with the assistance of the Disability Services Directorate of the Ministry of Health and NASCA (Needs Assessment and Service Coordination Association).

This page last reviewed 09 November 2021.

Call Healthline on 0800 611 116 any time of the day or night for free health advice when you need it