Foster carer guidelines
Information about how to access the National Disability Insurance Scheme when you care for a foster child with disability
Accessing the NDIS
This page is part of a set of resources for authorised OOHC carers about the NDIS. This page provides key information about accessing the NDIS and preparing for the NDIS planning meeting to arrange supports for the child or young person in your care.
The OOHC caseworker referred to in this fact sheet is the Family and Community Services or Non Government Organisation OOHC caseworker that has case management responsibility for the child or young person.
What is the NDIS?
The NDIS is an Australia-wide scheme, supporting people with permanent and significant disability. The NDIS is replacing the current NSW disability support system.
The NDIS gives people with disability choice and control over the supports they receive. It helps people with disability to live life their way, achieve their goals and participate in the community.
Who is the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA)?
The NDIA is the Commonwealth agency that manages and delivers the NDIS. The NDIA is overseen by the Council of Australian Governments Disability Reform Council. More information can be found at www.ndis.gov.au.
Roll out of the NDIS in NSW
From 1 July 2016, the following districts have been able to access the NDIS:
- Hunter New England
- Southern New South Wales
- Central Coast
- Northern Sydney
- South Western Sydney
- Western Sydney
- Nepean Blue Mountains
From 1 July 2017, the NDIS became available across the rest of NSW, for people living in:
- Northern New South Wales
- Mid North Coast
- South Eastern Sydney
- Illawarra Shoalhaven
- Western New South Wales
- Far West
Becoming an NDIS participant
How and when a child or young person accesses the NDIS will depend on where they live and whether they already receive NSW Government funded disability supports.
See the How and when will I access the NDIS in NSW factsheet.
Transition of existing NSW funded disability clients to the NDIS
Children and young people currently receiving specialist disability supports through the NSW Government or a service provider funded by the NSW Government will move first to the NDIS as it rolls out in their area.
Current supports for an individual will continue until an NDIS plan is in place. When it is time to transition, the child or young person’s OOHC Manager Casework will be contacted by the NDIA. The OOHC caseworker will then contact the child or young person and their carer to attend an NDIS planning meeting with the NDIS representative.
If the child or young person with a disability does not currently receive disability supports in NSW, their eligibility for the scheme will need to be confirmed by the NDIA.
To become a NDIS participant, a child or young person must meet access requirements for either the disability or early intervention pathway.
This includes children and young people with new incidence of disability currently accessing supports through other NSW Government agencies, including Health, Education and Justice, or other sectors, such as primary care providers and non-government organisations.
The first step for a child to become a NDIS participant is for the OOHC caseworker to complete an Access Request Form, this form is only available through the NDIA. The OOHC caseworker will contact the NDIA to ask for an Access Request form if your child or young person needs disability support. Information relating to the child or young person’s disability and medical history will need to be included in the form, along with evidence of the diagnosis, what the condition is, how long it is likely to last and how it impacts the child or young person’s life.
The NDIS website has a tool to help you understand eligibility requirements, called the NDIS Access Checklist and factsheet - Accessing the NDIS as a new participant.
Early childhood early intervention
Early Childhood Early Intervention (ECEI) services are available in NSW for children aged 0–6 years old who have a disability. The aim of ECEI is inclusion; with children supported in a range of mainstream early childhood settings such as a preschool or play group, thereby increasing opportunities to learn about and develop positive social relationships.
ECEI is designed to connect children with disability and their families with mainstream services in their local areas early to provide information and support.
During the NDIS transition in NSW, service providers participating in the transitional arrangements with the NDIA need to be an existing early childhood intervention service provider currently delivering supports similar to the NDIA gateway functions under an existing DCJ Funding Agreement.
The functions performed by early childhood intervention providers which align with the NDIA ECEI approach include:
- functional assessment and provision of short term specialist supports
- developing and reviewing individual support plans
- assisting children and families to access NSW and Commonwealth disability supports
- referring children and families to mainstream and community-based support options
- building community inclusion and capacity.
The gateway process is based on the outcomes of a functional assessment undertaken by an ECEI Transition Provider, to help identify the most appropriate supports for the child. This could include referral to short term interventions, mainstream supports, information provision, and if necessary, an NDIS plan.
The first step in accessing ECEI is for your OOHC caseworker to contact their local ECEI Transition Provider to access the NDIS ECEI gateway.
In NSW, the ECEI Approach will be implemented fully from July 2018 when the NSW transition to the NDIS is complete.
Further information about the NDIA’s ECEI approach can be found at www.ndis.gov.au/ecei, and a list of NSW ECEI Transition Providers.
Giving children and young people with disability a voice
While you and the OOHC caseworker will support the child or young person with disability through the NDIS planning process, it is important to remember that they too must be given an opportunity to participate directly, in a manner that is appropriate for their age and circumstances. The carer and caseworker have responsibility to encourage active participation by the child or young person in discussions and decisions relating to their disability supports.
Who will represent a child or young person?
Under the National Disability Insurance Scheme Act 2013 s5, Part 4 the person(s) who is responsible for making decisions in the child’s best interests is referred to as the “child’s representative(s)”. For a child or young person in statutory OOHC or under a Guardianship order, the child’s representative will be the person who has been allocated Parental Responsibility. In some cases, Parental Responsibility may be allocated to more than one person or entity, including the Minister for Family and Community Services.
Where Parental Responsibility has been allocated solely to the Minister, the child’s representative will be the Communities and Jusitce (DCJ) or Non-government Organisation (NGO) OOHC caseworker in the organisation that has case management responsibility for the child or young person.
For statutory OOHC, there are 2 scenarios where OOHC casework staff may not be the child or young person’s representative. Firstly, where a child or young person wishes to represent themselves and the NDIA is satisfied that the child or young person is capable of making decisions for themselves. The second scenario, which is only available in exceptional circumstances, is where the Minister has agreed in writing that the NDIA can appoint another person to be the child’s representative.
Who will represent a child or young person when Parental Responsibility is shared?
Where the Minister and another person(s) share Parental Responsibility, the child’s representative will be the person who holds the most relevant aspects of Parental Responsibility to the NDIS plan. In such cases, DCJ will review which aspects of Parental Responsibility have been allocated and to whom, and decide who is the child’s representative for the purposes of the NDIS Act.
If the Minister and the other person(s) hold aspects of Parental Responsibility that are equally relevant to the NDIS plan, or if the aspects of Parental Responsibility are allocated jointly, the Minister and the other person(s) will be the child’s representative jointly.
In any case, when Parental Responsibility is shared with the Minister, OOHC casework staff will be involved in the NDIS access and NDIS planning process, along with the child’s representative.
What happens if the Child’s Representatives disagree with each other?
Where Parental Responsibility is shared and both parties are the child’s representative and they disagree about NDIS supports and services, attempts should be made to resolve the disagreement by collaboration and negotiation, ensuring the best outcome for the child is at the centre of decision-making. If that fails, assistance will be sought from a person who is trained in mediation and who is independent to both parties to help resolve the dispute, or, as a last resort, where agreement cannot be reached after negotiation; the matter may be brought before the Children’s Court.
Access further information about child representatives under the NDIS.
Important note – the carer-caseworker partnership: carers and caseworkers working together will help achieve the best outcomes for the child or young person during the NDIS planning process. Carers will bring their knowledge and experiences of the child or young person to the NDIS planning process because carers have unique insight into the needs and day-to-day lives of the child or young person they care for. This understanding of the child or young person will be invaluable for the development of an NDIS plan. Caseworkers are experienced and focused on case planning to meet a child or young person’s needs and their goals and aspirations.
What supports are provided by the NDIS for children and young people in care?
The level and type of supports that will be funded through the NDIS will depend on the individual needs of each child or young person and the NDIA’s assessment of reasonable and necessary supports. Day-to-day care for children and young people in statutory OOHC will continue to be funded by DCJ.
The NDIA may consider the following supports as reasonable and necessary supports for children or young people in care:
- Supports required as a direct result of a child or young person’s disability. This includes supports that enable families and carers to sustainably maintain their caring role, such as through community participation, therapeutic and behavioural supports, additional respite, aids and equipment and supports to help build capacity to navigate mainstream services.
- Supports required due to the impact of a child or young person’s impairment on functional capacity where they are in OOHC and have support needs that are above those of children of similar ages. The diversity of OOHC arrangements is recognised and the level of reasonable and necessary supports will reflect the circumstances of the individual child or young person.
- Any other reasonable and necessary supports identified.
For more information see: What Are Reasonable and Necessary Supports on the NDIS website.
What happens to the child or young person’s NDIS supports after they turn 18 or leave OOHC?
NDIS supports and funding move with the child or young person through their life transitions, for example; by turning 18 and leaving OOHC or where restoration occurs.
Whenever a significant life transition occurs the NDIS should be contacted (by the young person themselves if they are over 18 or by the child’s representative or guardian if under 18) to ensure the supports and funding effectively meet their needs in their new environment.
How will I know when it’s my child or young person’s turn to move into the NDIS?
When the child or young person in your care is due to transition to the NDIS (either as a new entrant, after an Access Request has been accepted by the NDIA or because they are an existing ADHC client), their OOHC caseworker will be contacted by an NDIS representative to arrange a meeting to discuss their first NDIS plan. The caseworker in turn will contact the child or young person and carer regarding the meeting and to check you can both attend and assist with the NDIS plan preparation.
Getting ready for the NDIS – information pack
If your child or young person currently receives disability supports directly from the NSW government, your OOHC caseworker will receive an information pack that will have their latest reports and information to take along to their NDIS planning meeting.
Preparing for the NDIS planning meeting
The NDIA has prepared a work book called ‘My NDIS Pathway’ which details the journey into the NDIS and provides guidance on what the NDIS planning process will include.
At a glance - before The Planning Meeting
Steps to take:
- The caseworker will contact the child/young person and carer when nearing the planning meeting, to allow time to prepare.
- Who can help
- Useful links
- NDIS checklist for carers in NSW
- DCJ will provide information packs for each child or young person receiving ADHC services.
- Who can help
- Service providers can help their existing clients prepare i.e., specialist can provide reports, etc.
- Useful links
- NDIS planning workbook
- The carer and caseworker prepares the participant statement with child or young person:
- Goals and aspirations
- A list of all the current supports and carer activities and reason why each one is valuable
- A list of all the aids/equipment the child or young person currently has and whether modifications or new equipment are likely to be required over the next 12 months
- Who can help
- NDIA: 1800 800 110
NDIS Local Area Coordinator
- Useful links
- Developing your child’s participant statement (the NDIA prefer participants bring their statement already drafted with them to their NDIS planning meeting)
- Caseworker and carer prepare information to take to the planning meeting with the child/ young person (age/ability appropriate)
- Who can help
- NDIA: 1800 800 110
NDIS Local Area Coordinator