Students with disabilities are set to have easier access to the help they need, with the State Government announcing a new model for supporting mainstream students and preschoolers with a disability.
The new model reduces red tape and puts in place a new, more straightforward application and assessment process for preschoolers and school students with complex needs and who need extra support.
It is estimated that the reforms will result in at least 2000 fewer children having to go through a formal assessment each year in order to attract support.
Under the new model, which will be phased in over 2019, more students will receive funding based on a single assessment, removing a significant administrative burden and allowing disability specialists to do more work directly with teachers and students.
Preschool children with a high level of need will now automatically be funded and supported at the same level from day one of primary school, providing continuity of funding to support a seamless transition from preschool to school.
The number of categories of assessed need will increase from five to nine, eliminating the need for schools to make multiple applications for top-up funding for those whose needs didn’t fit neatly into the former categories.
Eligibility criteria will also be aligned with national disability standards and legislation.
The new approach incorporates mental health, trauma, complex behaviours and complex health care needs, which under the previous model required multiple assessments and applications to attract funding and support.
Education Minister John Gardner said the changes will mean greater consistency and certainty for families, schools and preschools.
“We are making it simpler for parents, schools and preschools to access funding for students or preschoolers with a disability need,” said Minister Gardner.
“Our aim is to ensure every child receives the support they need to belong to a preschool or school community, engage purposefully in learning and experience inclusion and academic success.
“Instead of undergoing multiple assessments, students with high levels of need will now only need to undertake a single application and assessment process.
“This is a major shift for our preschools and schools, reducing the administrative burden on teachers and specialist educators so they can focus on the job of helping students to achieve their goals.
“This reform also means a smoother transition to school for preschoolers with high levels of need, ensuring help is in place from the day they start reception.”
The new model will also simplify funding arrangements for students and children with minor needs, with schools and preschools given funding each year without waiting for an assessment.
The new funding model was co-designed through extensive consultation with parents, disability advocates, and school and preschool representatives.