Services and support available

The Ministry of Education's learning support team provides an early intervention service for very young children who have learning support needs. These services are available to your child whether they attend an early learning service or kōhanga reo or not.

Early intervention service

What does the early intervention service do?

The early intervention service provides specialist support to help you gain the confidence, knowledge and skills to support your child’s learning and development.

Children aged 0 to 5 years can request support from the early intervention service as soon as there is a significant concern about their learning, development, communication or behaviour.

You can contact the early intervention service yourself if your child is at home with you full time, or your early learning service or kōhanga reo might make the request after talking with you.

The service is government-funded and free. 

What type of support can I get from the early intervention service?

Once an initial request has been made to the early intervention service, someone from the early intervention service will contact you. This be may a kaitakawaenga if your whānau identified as Māori. 

The early intervention team will talk with you to find out about your concerns and priorities. They will then discuss the next steps with you. This might involve talking with any other professionals such as your child's early childhood education (ECE) service teachers, kōhanga reo kaiako or health workers involved with your family, if you are happy for this to happen. They will talk about how your child is doing in different situations in everyday life.

This is to make sure that any support that they provide supports your child's participation and learning in daily life, both at home and at the ECE service or kōhanga reo if they attend one. They also make sure that everyone is working in a coordinated way to support your family and whānau to support your child. 

Together with you they may develop a plan which outlines how your child’s learning and development will be supported by everyone involved. The plan will be reviewed every few months, progress discussed and agreed changes made. 

Who will we be working with from the early intervention service?

Early intervention teams include a range of specialists:

    • advisers on deaf children (AODC)
    • early intervention teachers (EITs)
    • kaitakawaenga
    • psychologists
    • speech-language therapists (SLTs).

For more information contact your local learning support office.

Learning support services – Ministry of Education(external link)

Incredible Years programmes

Incredible Years is a series of programmes for parents and teachers of children aged 3 to 8 who are experiencing behaviour difficulties.

By supporting the skills and confidence of the key adults in the lives of children, they aim to promote children’s social, emotional, behavioural and academic competence.

Some of the skills you'll learn as a parent and/or carer include: 

  • how to play and spend time together
  • praising and rewarding children
  • communicating positively
  • setting limits
  • reducing challenging behaviours
  • helping children to problem solve.

How to access the programmes

If your child is aged 3 to 8 and is experiencing behaviour difficulties or is aged 2 to 5 and has autism you may be able to take part in one of these programmes.

These programmes are government funded and free.

Incredible Years for parents – TKI(external link)

Incredible Years Autism for caregivers – TKI(external link)

PB4L School-Wide – TKI(external link)

Contact your local Ministry of Education office for more information.

Learning support services – Ministry of Education(external link)

Children who are Deaf or hard of hearing

The Ministry of Education provides communication support to parents and caregivers of preschool children who are Deaf or hard of hearing.

Learn more about the 4 communication approaches and how we support each one.

Communication support for preschool children who are Deaf or hard of hearing

Contact us

To get in touch with an advisor on deaf children, call the learning support information line or contact your local learning support office.

Freephone (NZ only): 0800 622 222

Learning support services – Ministry of Education(external link)

If you are deaf or hard of hearing, you can contact the Ministry of Education through the New Zealand Relay service.

New Zealand Relay(external link)

Freephone (NZ only): 0800 4711 711

School High Health Needs Fund support

The School High Health Needs Fund (SHHNF) provides teacher's aide support for your child if they have a serious medical condition and need help to attend their school or kura safely.

It does not apply to children under 5, but you should organise this support early so that it's in place for your child when they start school or kura. As soon as you decide on the school or kura your child is going to go to, talk to them about putting in an application for SHHNF. You'll need to supply up-to-date medical information from your child's specialist with the application.

If you are approved for SHHNF then it is government funded and free to you. The funding for your child is then reviewed once a year.

To find out what is and what is not covered by this service read the SHHNF information sheet. 

Last reviewed: Has this been useful? Tell us what you think.