Reviewing the evidence on the effectiveness of early childhood intervention

19 Dec 2011

In June 2011, Senator the Hon Jan McLucas asked the Department to seek expert advice about evidence for early intervention in relation to the types of childhood disability and developmental delay that were ineligible for Better Start for Children with Disability (Better Start) assistance, including an analysis of current research.


The Department enlisted KPMG to undertake the report, which examines current evidence for the effectiveness of early intervention for children with developmental delay.

KPMG was engaged by the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA) to review and document the evidence base on the effectiveness of early childhood intervention (ECI) for children with a developmental disability. There is a significant body of evidence on the effectiveness of ECI for children with specific types of disability or underlying condition (such as autism spectrum disorder, cerebral
palsy), and the focus of this project has been to review the evidence from a broader perspective – that is, the effectiveness of ECI for children with a developmental disability or developmental delay regardless of underlying
cause or condition.

This report describes the outputs of KPMG’s work for FaHCSIA in responding to the following questions:

•    Is early intervention generally associated with improved outcomes for childhood developmental disabilities?
•    Does early intervention assist children with developmental disabilities in making a successful transition to school?
•    Does early intervention have an association, either direct or indirect, with social and workforce participation later in life?
•    What current research is available comparing the use of diagnostic or functional thresholds to determine eligibility for early intervention, and what are the design features of a tool that could determine eligibility for
•    Based on an examination of the estimated numbers of Australian children with a developmental delay, what would be the cost implications – both short term costs and longer term benefits - of expanding current Australian
Government funding for early intervention services for such children?

Released on 19 December 2011, this report is dated 30 September 2011

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