FAQ

  1. There are so many options out there. How do I know what’s best for me?
  2. What is the NDIS?
  3. Is there any funding available to us?
  4. What can I do about the way I feel?
  5. How can I link up with other families?
  6. What can I do to help my child, right now?
  7. What do I do if I’m not happy with my service?
  8. I’m concerned about my other children. Is there any support for them at Plumtree?
  9. I’m told I will have ‘sessions’ with somebody from Plumtree. What happens in a ‘session’?
  10. I asked for a Key Worker who is a Speech Pathologist, but they can only send me an Occupational Therapist. Should I be worried about this?

There are so many options out there. How do I know what’s best for me?

It is fine to talk to different organisations and compare the kind of service they offer. You are welcome to start coming along to one of our Drop In groups while you are doing this.

The Early Links program can help you sort through the different options. This is a short term program of about 8 sessions, designed to help you make decisions and plan for what comes next. Please contact us for more information.

What is the NDIS?

NDIS stands for National Disability Insurance Scheme. This is the Australian Government’s new approach to funding services. It means that you will have a choice about how funds are spent to help your child. The NDIS will start in Sydney between 2016 and 2018. For more about the NDIS for families already with Plumtree see here. To learn more, go to www.raisingchildren.net.au or www.ndis.gov.au.

Is there any funding available to us?

Until the NDIS comes in, other kinds of government funding may be available to you if you qualify. Your paediatrician can help with this, or you can go online to check your eligibility. Try http://betterstart.net.au/can-i-get-better-start/ or, if your child has a diagnosis of an autism spectrum disorder, go to www.dss.gov.au/our-responsibilities/disability-and-carers/program-services/for-people-with-disability/helping-children-with-autism.

Plumtree offers small funding packages to families through its Plan and Do program. These are designed to assist you to reach your goals for your family. They also help families to gain experience with individual funding in readiness for the NDIS.

Other individual funding options sometimes become available, and we aim to keep families informed about these.

What can I do about the way I feel?

It is hard work being a parent, and having concerns about a child can add to any parent’s stress. Whatever you are going through, it is likely that there are other parents who have experienced similar feelings. You are not alone.

  • Plan time for yourself and prioritise your own wellbeing.
  • Look for your local MyTime group, to link up with other parents: 1800 889 997 or http://www.mytime.net.au/.
  • If you are in the area, you are welcome to come along to a Drop In group at Plumtree. Other organisations also provide groups like this, so it is worth asking your local Early Childhood Intervention provider.
  • Carers NSW has a phone counselling service: phone 1800 242 636.
  • Your GP can refer you to a counsellor or psychologist who can help you work through your feelings.
  • If you feel that you need help right now, phone Lifeline on 11 13 14.

If you are just beginning to work through your concerns for your child, or have a recent diagnosis, ask about Early Links at Plumtree or through other programs in NSW.

How can I link up with other families?

Look for your local MyTime group, to link up with other parents: 1800 889 997 or http://www.mytime.net.au/.

If you are in the area, you are welcome to come along to a Drop In group at Plumtree. Other organisations also provide groups like this, so it is worth asking your local Early Childhood Intervention provider.

Depending on your child’s condition, there may be a specific parent to parent support group for you. NSW families can ask their local Early Links provider.

What can I do to help my child, right now?

Young children learn most of all through play and the ordinary things you do together as a family. This includes the routines of your day, such as meals, bath time and shopping. Children learn when you take the time to let them try things for themselves. Most importantly, they learn from the way you respond to them, with your face, your actions and your words. Click here for more ideas on how you can help your child through everyday routines.

What do I do if I’m not happy with my service?

Sometimes an issue can be quickly resolved by talking directly to the person involved. They will appreciate your feedback and it is likely that together, you will find a solution.

You can ask to speak to a manager about your concerns. Following this, if you are still concerned, you can ask to make a formal complaint.

If you do not feel that your matter has been attended to by the service provider, you can take your matter to a higher level. This might be the government body which funds and/or regulates the service. Or you could approach the Ombudsman in your State.

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I’m concerned about my other children. Is there any support for them at Plumtree?

Every child in your family is important. Brothers and sisters are welcome to come along to any of the group programs at Plumtree, and staff will seek to involve them during home visits. Events especially for siblings are organised each year, so that school aged siblings can meet each other.

As your children grow older, you will find that there are activities and resources available which look at the experience of being the sibling of a child who has additional needs. Talk to the people working with you – they will be glad to share information on this important topic.

I’m told I will have ‘sessions’ with somebody from Plumtree. What happens in a ‘session’?

At Plumtree, we usually allow an hour for a session. What happens in that time can vary in lots of ways. Sessions will almost always involve doing something practical with your child, and will always involve some discussion with you.

When we first start working with you, we will spend time together planning. These plans form the basis of the sessions that follow, and they can also determine what is done outside sessions, too. We will refer back to this plan as we go, and make changes as they are needed.

Sessions often involve lots of play, especially for younger children. Play is very important to children’s learning – it allows them to explore, try new things and practice. Even though it may look like ‘just play’, there is always a purpose. Sometimes we might be observing the child, to understand more about how he or she learns. At other times, we might be gently encouraging the child to try something new. If you are not sure what your worker is trying to achieve through play, please ask. Your worker will be happy to talk this through with you and seek your feedback.

At the end of each session, we will spend a little time talking about how things went, and planning for the next week.

Sessions can take place in your home, at our centre in Marrickville, in your child’s childcare centre or preschool, at school or out in the community. If you are not present the session (eg because they takes place at school) we will stay in touch with you by phone or email.
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I asked for a Key Worker who is a Speech Pathologist, but they can only send me an Occupational Therapist. Should I be worried about this?

Many parents ask this question, and we understand your concern. It is an unfamiliar concept for most people, and it takes a little getting used to. We work in this way, as do many organisations, because research tells us that it has good outcomes for families and children.

All members of the team at Plumtree aim to look at the whole child, not just the aspects that are traditionally the focus of their training.

Workers in early childhood intervention are always learning from each other. We work very closely with people from a range of disciplines, and we share our skills. As a parent, you will learn from the people you work with too. This is a natural part of working together. For this reason, all of us have knowledge about all the different aspects of development.
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As Key Workers, we know the limits of our experience. As we get to know your child, we work with you to identify whether we need some specific input from another team member. Three things can happen here:

1. Firstly, we can consult with other members of the team to better understand all the options. This happens on a regular basis.

2. Secondly, we can bring along another team member to meet you and your child for a consultation.

Jenny’s son, Max, was two years old and not talking yet. One of our Teachers, Marg, was the Key Worker. Marg has worked closely alongside Speech Pathologists and was able to put many things in place to help Max’s communication. Marg and Jenny also looked at Max’s fine motor skills, and at ways to help guide his behaviour.

Max made good progress, but after a few months he was still having difficulty making some speech sounds. Marg asked a Speech Pathologist on the team, Jane, to come along and meet Max and Jenny, and provide some feedback. Jane came to two sessions, and set up some activities to help Max with his speech sounds. Marg then helped Jenny follow through with these activities, varying them and extending them as time went on.

Because Marg knew Max so well, she was able to help Jenny have fun with Max and keep things interesting for him. Marg kept in touch with Jane back in the office, to confirm that she was doing everything possible for Max and Jenny.

3. The third option is for another team member to come along for a more extended block of time. This can happen when there is a need that requires very specific training or qualifications. For example, a child might need a wheelchair prescribed, and an OT must be involved here.

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