Support and services available
The support that's available to your child depends on their age, their special education needs, and how many other children in their area need special education support.
- What support is available for my child?
- Can I get funding for special equipment?
- Will the school make changes to their buildings so my child can get around?
- Can I get help with transport costs?
Most children with special education needs will be in regular early childhood education services (ECE), kōhanga reo, schools or kura and have extra help to support their needs provided by them.
If your child is one of the small number of children with high needs, their ECE service, kōhanga reo, school or kura will also approach the Ministry of Education's special education team to provide extra help from specialists, or support for your child's teacher.
The Government funds schools and kura, and the Ministry, to provide special education needs support, so if you require these services they are free to you.
The services and support available are particular to the age of your child. Have a read of what might be available in the section that fits your child's age:
- support and services for the early learning years, 0-5 year olds
- support and services for the primary school years, 5-12 year olds
- support and services for the secondary school years, 13-19 year olds.
It is important that you feel that your child and their needs are understood, and that you are getting all the support that is available to you. Your child's ECE service, kōhanga reo, school or kura are there to support you and your child, so get to know them well and work in partnership with them. You can also talk to the Ministry's special education team whenever you want.
Special equipment, or assistive technology, is equipment like computers, alternative keyboards, special seating, hearing equipment, software and other devices that are used to support your child. Assistive technology allows children with special learning needs to do something that would otherwise be difficult or impossible for them. The Ministry can fund schools and kura to buy this equipment if your child needs it to be able to learn.
If the equipment is specialised, the Ministry's special education team or specialists will help your child and their teachers to learn to use the new equipment.
How do I apply for assistive technology support?
Your school or kura will need to apply and your child might need to try out a range of equipment to find what works best for them.
This support is for individual students with special learning needs, not groups of students. Your child might be able to get assistive technology support as well as other special education support.
If your child is at a private school or is home schooled, they might still be able to receive assistive technology support.
See the eligibility fact sheet for more information.
If your child uses a wheelchair, needs to use handrails, or needs other changes to school or kura buildings, the school or kura will need to know about this well before your child starts with them.
The school or kura is responsible for making changes to their buildings to enable your child to safely get around. They will follow a process that involves you, the property team at the Ministry of Education and a physiotherapist or occupational therapist from the Ministry's special education team.
The physiotherapist or occupational therapist will do an assessment of the school environment and recommend any changes that need to be made.
If your child needs help with transport between home and school or kura for mobility or safety reasons, they might be able to get Special Education School Transport Assistance (SESTA). How much help they get is based on their needs and the nearest school that can meet their needs.
For more information about applying for SESTA, what's covered and what's not, see Special Education Transport Assistance.
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