Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions about transition from Better Start

What will happen to the HCWA/Better Start programs after 30 June 2020?

Individualised funding under the HCWA and Better Start programs is transitioning to the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) and is due to cease on 30 June 2020.

If you have a child with ongoing support needs, you should contact the NDIS National Call Centre (NCC) on 1800 800 110, which will be able to help you with information and support with getting an assessment for the NDIS. The NCC will help you find your local Early Childhood (EC) Partner and can advise you how to complete your “Verbal Access Request” over the phone.

Information on how to contact your EC Partner or the NDIA is also on the NDIS website at www.ndis.gov.au.

What does the closure of HCWA/Better Start funding mean for my child?

If your child is in the HCWA or Better Start programs, you will still have your funding until, whichever comes first, between:

  • the programs ceasing on 30 June 2020
  • all your child’s funding has been expended
  • your child has an approved NDIS plan in place
  • your child’s seventh birthday.

It is important that you contact the National Call Centre (1800 800 110) or your local EC Partner as soon as possible to discuss submitting an NDIS Access Request Form or a Verbal Access Request (VAR) for your child.

Delays in asking for access to the NDIS may lead to a gap in support for your child.

Can I use my HCWA or Better Start funding after 30 June 2020?

No, the funding your child has through HCWA/Better Start will not be available after 30 June 2020.

From 1 July 2020, all services you receive for your child will be paid through an NDIS plan (if your child is eligible) or you will have to pay for it yourself.

If your child is not eligible for the NDIS, you may be able to apply for Continuity of Support (see Q&As on Continuity of Support below).

What are Early Childhood (EC) Partners?

EC Partners are the first point of contact for families/carers with a child aged under 7 years old who may have concerns about their child’s development. EC Partners are part of the NDIS Early Childhood Early Intervention (ECEI) approach.

Further information about the NDIS ECEI approach is available at www.NDIS.gov.au/ecei.

If an EC Partner or by the NDIA has not contacted you already, please contact the NDIS National Call Centre (NCC) on 1800 800 110 for more information. The NCC will tell you who your local EC Partner is, and can help you to complete a “Verbal Access Request” over the phone.

How can EC Partners help my child and family?

EC Partners are experienced in providing early childhood intervention and have strong local knowledge and understanding of the needs of children aged under 7 years old, and the needs of their families and carers.

EC Partners know how to assess a child’s needs and will help you work out the types of supports that might most help your child. They understand that every child’s needs and circumstances are different, and they can connect you with supports in your area, offer short-term early intervention if needed, and can help you ask for NDIS access if your child needs longer-term early childhood intervention. If your child becomes an NDIS participant, the EC Partner will work with your family to develop an NDIS plan.

You don’t need assessments or reports to contact an EC Partner.

Why transition to the NDIS?

The NDIS is a national Scheme that helps people with a disability, including children with developmental delay or disability, get the supports and services they need.

For children under 7 years old, the NDIS provides the Early Childhood Early Intervention Approach to give families access to the support they need to reach the outcomes they want for their children. This may include an NDIS Plan with individual funded supports, as well as links to community and mainstream supports and services.

HCWA or Better Start funding ends when your child has an approved plan in place.

What evidence do I need about my child’s disability to request access to the NDIS?

You will need to provide evidence of your child’s permanent disability or developmental delay if you would like to make an NDIS Access Request for your child.

You may also be asked for information about the type of disability or developmental delay, how long the condition will last and how it will affect your child’s life.

The National Call Centre will send you an additional supporting evidence form to complete after you make your Verbal Access Request.  Your Autism Advisor or RIS can support you to gather the evidence (for example a medical report from a GP or paediatrician), and send it to the NDIS.

When will my child’s HCWA or Better Start funding stop if I don’t apply for the NDIS?

HCWA and Better Start funding will end on 30 June 2020. The cost of services you use will not be covered by HCWA or Better Start after that date.

What does it mean if my child is not eligible for the NDIS?

The NDIA will notify you of the outcome of your NDIS access request.  If the NDIA decides your child is ineligible for the NDIS, you will continue to receive HCWA or Better Start funding until, whichever comes first, between:

  • your child turning 7 years old
  • all funding has been spent
  • 30 June 2020.

If your child is ineligible for NDIS, you can apply for Continuity of Support after 30 June 2020 (see Q&As on Continuity of Support below).

Once a child has an NDIS plan, can they still use the same service providers they did as a HCWA or Better Start client?

This depends on how the child’s plan is managed.

If the child’s plan is managed by the NDIA, the service providers you used under HCWA/Better Start will need to be registered with the NDIA. Check with your child’s current providers to see if they are registered with the NDIS.

If you have chosen to self-manage all or part of your child’s NDIS plan, you can use the service provider of your choice, even if that provider is not registered with the NDIS. The provider must, however, be able to provide a support identified within your child’s plan. If your service provider has not yet registered with the NDIS, you may wish to ask them if they would register for the NDIS.

How will service providers manage HCWA/Better Start clients transitioning to the NDIS?

Current HCWA or Better Start providers need to check your child’s eligibility and funding before they provide a service. Likewise, as the child’s parent/carer, you are responsible for telling service providers once your child has an approved NDIS plan in place and is, therefore, no longer able to use HCWA or Better Start funding.

If you do not tell a provider that your child is no longer eligible for HCWA or Better Start, your provider may ask you to pay for the service.  

What if I want to use all of my child’s HCWA or Better Start funding before transitioning to the NDIS?

It takes time for the NDIA to make a decision about your child’s eligibility for the NDIS. While you are waiting, you will still have access to your HCWA or Better Start funding until, whichever comes first, between:

  • your child turning 7 years old
  • all funding has been spent
  • 30 June 2020.

You cannot choose to keep getting HCWA or Better Start funding instead of the NDIS. You need to make an Access Request for the NDIS now because if you wait until you’ve used your HCWA/Better Start funding, there may be a gap in services for your child after 30 June.

What is Continuity of Support?

Continuity of Support (CoS) helps clients of Commonwealth programs that are ending, but who are ineligible for the NDIS. If your child is not eligible for the NDIS, they may be eligible for CoS from 1 July 2020.

You will need to have evidence that your child is not eligible for the NDIS when you apply for CoS. That makes it important to test your child’s eligibility for the NDIS as soon as possible, and not wait until your HCWA or Better Start funding has been spent. If you do not have an answer from the NDIA by 1 July 2020, you will not have HCWA/Better Start funding and you will not be able to apply for CoS.

Further information about CoS and how to apply will be available soon, and you will be able to apply from 1 July 2020, up until 31 January 2021.

Will my child be eligible for Continuity of Support?

To be eligible for CoS, your child must be:

  • ineligible for the NDIS and have evidence
  • under the age of 7 years as at 30 June 2020
  • have some HCWA or Better Start funding left over on 30 June 2020, and
  • living in Australia.

What evidence do I need to apply for Continuity of Support?

You will need to provide evidence from the NDIA that your child has been found to be ineligible for the NDIS. Your child must be ineligible because of their functional capacity or residency. They cannot be found to be ineligible because you did not complete an Access Request Form or the application process properly. 

What do I need to do to get Continuity of Support funding?

You will need to apply for CoS between 1 July 2020 and 31 January 2021.

If you are eligible you will be given funds of up to $6,000 per financial year, for up to two years. This is a maximum amount, and your child may be assessed to receive less funding. 

Can I reapply for the NDIS if I receive Continuity of Support funding?

Yes, you can reapply for the NDIS at any time. You must tell DSS as soon as your child becomes eligible for the NDIS, as they will no longer be able to receive Continuity of Support. Any CoS that is received after they become a participant in the NDIS may need to be repaid to DSS.

Where can I find more information about the transition to the NDIS?

You can call the DSS Early Intervention Helpdesk on 1800 778 581 or email early.intervention@dss.gov.au.

You can also contact the National Call Centre (NCC) on 1800 800 110 or the EC Partner in your area (details are available on the NDIS website at www.ndis.gov.au/ecei).

You can find Peer Support and other resources on the Carer_Support_Network.


Flowchart - steps to Better Start

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