Child Care Support for Children with Special Needs

Where can I find support and information to help include children with disabilities at our centre?

Inclusion Support Program
To support the inclusion of all children in child care settings, the Australian Government has implemented the Inclusion Support Program through the Department of Education Employment and Workplace Relations.
The Inclusion Support Program aims to remove barriers to inclusion for children and provide practical support to childcare providers.

All Australian Government approved children’s services are eligible to access the range of supports available through the Inclusion Support Program, including Inclusion Support Subsidy funding.
This includes:
• Long day care centres
• Family day care schemes and carers
• In home care schemes
• Occasional care schemes
• Mobile services
• Before and after care services
• Vacation care services
• Multifunctional Aboriginal children’s services (MACS),

The Inclusion Support Subsidy provides funding towards the costs of employing an additional staff person to provide support and inclusion to children with disabilities. The funding is also for accessing specialist equipment required for a child’s inclusion (for example specialist seating, standing frames, toileting equipment, adjustable tables, etc.). For home-based services, the Inclusion Support Subsidy may also provide an additional payment to in-home carers in recognition of the extra care and attention required by a child or children with ongoing high support needs

Subsidy limits apply for Inclusion Support Subsidy and will be different depending on service type.

The Inclusion Support Subsidy cannot be used for early intervention and/or therapy programs and medical or nursing assistance procedures. See the Guidelines for further information.

Inclusion Support Agencies;
Each Inclusion Support Agency is made up of a team of Inclusion Support Facilitators (ISFs) who will visit children’s services, talk with service professionals about what they can do to include children with additional needs.

The Inclusion Support Facilitator will work with staff to find out what specific goals the service has, how the service is trying to achieve these goals and what resources the staff require to achieve these goals. The Inclusion Support Facilitator will work staff to develop a plan of action to work towards identified goals.
ISF’s help child care staff tap into local community resources and supports. The facilitator can also helps staff access more specialised funding and support.

A fact sheet about the role of the ISF is available from the Community Child Care website. To view or download this fact sheet go to

A Service Support Plan (SSP) is developed to document the actions that will be undertaken to meet goals. Service Support Plans will help determine exactly what support is required to build on current staff actions and compliment the various resources and supports that are already being used.

Assisted Inclusion Readiness (AIR) Plans are used to map larger longer term projects or issues at the child care centre, such as programming for diversity, enhancing enrolment and orientation procedures, and guiding children’s behaviour.

The additional worker

Inclusion Support Subsidy funding can be used in centre based services is to contribute to the costs of employing an additional worker to increase the staff to child ratio for the time when the child with ongoing high support needs is in care.
Eligibility requirements and subsidy limits apply. Subsidy limits will differ depending on service types. More information about subsidy limits is available in the child care section of the Department of Education website at

The additional worker is employed as an extra member of the team to share the daily responsibilities of the team and to ensure that all children can access and participate in all aspects of the program. It is important to note that the additional worker is not employed to work one to one with the identified child, they will be working with all children in the group.
The Services Support Plan can identify exactly what having an additional worker will enable their service to achieve.
A fact sheet about the role of the additional worker is available from the Community Child Care website.

Applying for funding
In collaboration with the Inclusion Support Facilitator the staff can develop a service support plan and application. The facilitator can ensure that staff complete and submit the form accurately with the required documentation.

Inclusion Support Subsidy approvals are for a maximum of six months for children undergoing continuous assessment of a disability and twelve months for children with a diagnosed disability or refugee children. Regular re assessment is required to determine on going funding requirements.

When ongoing support subsidy is required a re application must be made with the ISF and a review of the previous plan must be conducted. A new plan should be developed and incorporate any current action. A new application from must also be submitted.

Reviews must also be conducted if a child with ongoing high support needs enters or leaves the care environment.
If the level of required support has increased a “variation to the Application” form must be completed and submitted to the inclusion support subsidy provider.
Where it is determined that there are exceptional circumstances in a child care service’s capacity to support a child with ongoing and high support needs, details of the exceptional circumstances must be supplied in a Service Support Plan.

Flexible Support Subsidy
Flexible Support Funding is support provided for a time limited period.
Eligibility for Flexible Support Funding is similar to that for the Inclusion Support Subsidy. Flexible Support Funding is a contribution towards the costs associated with employing additional staff to increase the staff to child ratio for a time-limited period. Subsidy limits apply for Flexible Support Funding and will be different depending on service type.

Flexible Support Funding may be used to;
• Assist services to include a child with high ongoing support needs when staff are unsure if Inclusion Support Subsidy will be required on an ongoing basis.
• Allowing release time for permanent staff and carers to attend specialist training relevant to the inclusion of a child with ongoing high support needs.(There is a 15 hour limit per year on funding for training)
• Allowing release time for permanent staff and carers to prepare Service Support Plans in respect to a child with ongoing high support needs;
• Providing permanent staff and carers with an additional worker so that a child with ongoing high support needs who attends on an irregular basis can participate in out of home excursions or other special activities.

Professional Supports
The Professional Support Program (PSP) aims to ensure that all eligible childcare services have access to quality, responsive and flexible professional supports to meet their priorities, needs and interests.

Professional Support Coordinator (PSC) has been appointed in each state and territory to develop, manage and monitor the delivery of this professional support to all eligible services, as well as to Inclusion Support Facilitators and Bicultural Support Workers.

The Professional Support Coordinator provides services with a single point of contact to ensure an immediate response to their professional support needs. The range of support services provided includes telephone support and advice, resource materials such as books, journal articles and children’s play equipment.
In Victoria, the PSC is Community Child Care. You can contact them on 1800 177 017


To locate the ISA in your region contact Community Child Care on 1800 177 017.

Department of Education –  at

Further information
Community Child Care is the Professional Support Coordinator (PSC) for Victoria. Visit the website for more information about the range of professional support services available through the IPSP.
Noah’s Ark is the current provider of specialist equipment for Victoria. Noah’s ark also provide valuable resources and support for parents.
FKA Children’s Services provides a multicultural resource centre and library for eligible child care services, bicultural support workers and Inclusion Support Agencies. Victoria. For more information contact FKA via email or phone (03) 9428 4471
Gowrie Victoria’s library has an extensive range of current books, journals, articles and DVD’s for borrowing.
• Department for Education funds the Inclusion and Professional Support Program (IPSP).
The National Childcare Accreditation Council (NCAC) is responsible for the administration of National Child Care Quality Assurance (CCQA) systems for approved child care services throughout Australia.


Tips for Inclusion

How can I include a child with autism in our playgroup?

Children with autism will often now be diagnosed earlier and need to be included in mainstream playgroups,kindergartens and childcare settings.

Children with autism have difficulties with

  • communication
  • imagination
  • social interaction
  • and they  will often have difficulties with sensory issues


  • keep a positive attitude and an open mind
  • structure the environment
  • structure the activities
  • encourage participation
  • keep language clear short and concrete
  • model appropriate behaviour
  • support participation in  activities that include turn taking, sharing, waiting and looking at things together
  • be aware of sensory issues- the child may avoid activities that are messy, noisy or things that have a strong smell
  • be aware the child may have dietary restrictions or resist eating certain foods
  • be aware the child may have difficulty with sitting still, joining group activities and eye contact or physical touch
  • work closely with the childs family to gain knowledge and skills about the best way to wok with and include their child.

Further Info