Congratulations! For many families, accessing NDIS funding and getting an NDIS plan is the first step to getting their child the support and services they need to reach their goals.

What happens once you’ve gotten your NDIS plan? How do you go about accessing the support services your child needs? How do you even know what services are available? And which services are going to be most appropriate for the needs of your child?

A google search of services in your local area is often a first reaction, however this can lead to a long list of names and services that might not be suitable for the needs of your child. This can be disheartening and discouraging; there has to be a better way right?

If you are plan-managed or have a support coordinator included in your funding, they can help you with working out what services and supports are available in your local community. They can guide you through the process of accessing services for additional assessments, therapies and interventions.

But there is another option, and that is to access a Key worker under the Early Childhood Early Intervention approach. A Key Worker is someone who will work with you in a similar way to your support coordinator to help you to access the services to meet the needs of your child. A Key Worker can also build your capacity to search for services, to build your skills and knowledge to support your child and to do intervention with your child in a space that is most convenient for your family.

So what is a Key Worker?

A Key Worker is an early childhood development specialist who has significant experience working with children under the age of 7. A Key Worker is your child’s main therapist support and will work with both you and your child to help them to reach their NDIS goals. A Key Worker can be an early childhood teacher, a speech therapist, an occupational therapist or a psychologist.

The Key Worker model of care

The Key Worker Model of Care is recognised by the NDIS at best practice for supporting children to receive early intervention support. The National Guidelines on Best Practice in Early Childhood Intervention recognise that a collaborative approach to intervention using a Key Worker as best practice for early intervention (ECIA, 2016, p.13)

The Key Worker model of care is a multidisciplinary approach to supporting children where there is one main point of contact for families to access therapies for their child - the Key Worker. The Key Worker will liaise with a team of other allied health professionals to develop a therapy program that is tailored to the needs and goals of your child and your family. However, rather than needing to see multiple therapists, your Key Worker is the person who delivers the majority of the therapy having been guided by the NDIS goals, your families goals and the goals developed by your other therapists, such as your speech pathologist or occupational therapist.

Your Key Worker will use a strengths-based approach and will work with you and your family to build your capacity to support your child by increasing your confidence, skills, knowledge and understanding of your child and their disability.

Evidence shows that any early intervention therapy is best delivered in a natural environment, that is somewhere that feels safe and comfortable for you and the child. This means that your Key Worker has the flexibility to work with your family to provide intervention where and when you need it – including your child’s preschool or daycare, at home or at the clinic, in a park or even at the swimming pool.

Unfortunately, your therapist cannot be with you 24 hours a day. However, by providing therapy in a natural environment, you and your child learn how to fit the therapy into your everyday routines and you will become comfortable to continue to provide the therapy in your everyday routine and events. Therapy becomes less of a chore or something that has to be done and simply becomes another part of your everyday.

Key Workers advocate for your child and will support you to build your ability to advocate for your child on their behalf, for example; your Key Worker can accompany you to appointments or help you to find the right school for your child.

There is no typical session for a Key Worker because each day and each session are tailored to the needs of the individual child and the goals that they are working towards. Some examples of past sessions include:

  • Visits at the day care to provide school readiness support.
  • A visit to the park to practice our gross motor skills.
  • A home visit discussing a parental concerns and problem solving together to develop a plan of action.
  • A phone call to check in with a family to see how they feel their child is progressing and to see if there are additional supports or information they require.
  • A session at a local café with a parent who just needs to chat about their concerns about their child’s recent diagnosis.
  • Attending a school orientation visit with a child to help them to participate and to develop their relationships with their new teacher.
  • A team around the child meeting with the parents, Occupational Therapist, Support Co-ordinator and day care educators to develop a plan to support the child to transition to a new classroom.
  • A session at the day care where the Key Worker works with the educators to provide them with information and supports to help the child to participate in the daily education program.

If you have recently received your NDIS funding or have had your finding for a while but feel you would like some additional support, and you think that a Key Worker approach might be the best fit for your family, why not reach out today and ask our admin team for more information about accessing a Key Worker today.


Early Childhood Intervention Australia. (2016). National Guidelines: Best Practice in Early Childhood intervention