Better Start and HCWA funding schemes for young children with specific disabilities.

If your young child has a disability, check the links here to check for eligibility and find out more about these schemes.

Better Start is an Australian federal government funding initiative designed to help with some of the costs involved in meeting developmental support needs for children with a specific range of disabilities, in preparation for the school years. Children who meet the criteria can receive the funds from birth up to 7 years of age, but must be registered for the funding before they turn 6 years of age. There are certain criteria eligibility thresholds for the listed disabilities which must be met and there is also specific criteria relating to Australian citizenship, which must be considered. The actual application process can be done quite quickly if the required documents are supplied when applying. Carers Australia provide a Better Start Referral and Information Service where applicants will be referred to advisors for further assistance with the application process.

The Better Start website is comprehensive and is a useful place to learn more about this scheme. For more informaiton see http://betterstart.net.au/

Better Start funding is $12,000 per eligible child in total, with an upper limit of $6,000 able to be spent in a financial year. These funds can be used to pay for certain equipment items and for services from approved and registered service providers such as:

  • audiology
  • occupational therapy
  • orthoptics
  • physiotherapy
  • psychology
  • speech pathology

HCWA (Helping Children With Autism) is a matching scheme developed in tandem with Better Start, to support children with Autism. See http://www.dss.gov.au/our-responsibilities/.../helping-children-with-autism

It is important to note that great care must go into selecting which scheme to choose, if a child is eligible for either Better Start or the HCWA scheme. A child who is registered under one of these schemes, cannot then change over at some point to the other. Another very useful site for information about both of these schemes is: http://raisingchildren.net.au/