kristen October 30, 2011

In the spirit of helping other parents to help their own kids, one parent sent me this email recently, explaining how she managed to get funding for a Brachiation Ladder for her daughter, who has Down syndrome. Thank you for sharing Helen x


It may be quite different here in NSW (compared to other parts of Australia), I don’t know, but here’s what I have discovered.

First there is the new $12,000 Better Start money that just came in for our kids from 1 July this year. You need to register for that and then you will get a client no. and can use the $$ at certain registered providers like physios etc. but they must be registered with the scheme – think most will become registered once they know about it but make sure you tell any providers you use to register.

It is my understanding that you can use $2100 per year x 2 years of that money for equipment or resources rather than services so that may be one way to get the brachiation ladder funded – you may need a provider recommendation first – I am not sure how they administer that – but I am sure most physios would see the benefit and write a letter for one.

Another way I can access money for things is through our respite provider – we have Northcott Disability Services right now and previously Sunnyfield – I am not sure if you have these same organisations in Vic as I do here – but you do probably have some kind of respite provider system – ours is coordinated by RIAP – respite intake allocation process and you make a request around Feb for services from July 1st later that year – not all requests for respite get filled but I think smaller kids have more priority – I have been approved later in the allocations and often people drop out along the way and then you may get a repsite package.

So how it works here is we get a respite package worth $5000 from Northcott and I choose to have that as weekly respite care, but as it is not started yet I requested they fund a holiday to the beach with the kids so that have paid $1400 for a week away for us (otherwise we can never afford to go away).

If I had not asked for that they do agree to fund equipment, resources etc that you may need that cannot be funded by anything else – especially if it eases the pressure at home in caring for your child – they realise not all parents want weekly respite care or even monthly so they can still benefit from the package but in other ways.

Now my previous provider did not offer that but this one does so again it may vary from place to place and from organisation to organisation.

The other funding around is called Family Assistance Funding (FAF) and that is where I have got the Brachiation Ladder funded from.

There are conditions for receiving funding whch comes from NSW Govt Dept, Ageing Disability and Home Care (ADHC). You would have a similar dept there I am sure – its part of the Family and Community Services Depts.

To get the FAF which can be up to $2000, you need to be using an ADHC funded service or service provider. For use we were actually receiving our physio services directly from ADHC as Zahli was registered with them from around 6 months old. In NSW they don’t like you using Health Dept services for disabled children, they want you to use disability funded services – their words not mine.

We do use some health services via the local hospital just because they are happy to see us and we can do that for free with a GP referral, but I think it depends on their resources etc. Since (my daughter) was born locally and needed care there for jaundice for a week and also feeding support, we saw a speech pathologist from week 1 there and a physio too for some basic help early on.

Anyway, back to FAF – so we were using an appropriate service and luckily a physio from them so I asked her to support the brachiation ladder request. She is youngish and quite open to new ideas so was ok to do that – although it took them 10 weeks to make a decision and they did try to knock it back being not sure what it would do for my child’s physio goals.

To apply you just lodge a form, some details of the item you wish to purchase (ie Brachiation Ladder Fact Sheet) and I left the physio to add her report supporting the Brachiation Ladder. She also handled the objection and provided more info on what it would do to help my daughter but I did have a speech pathologist (also from their dept.) on standby to add a report stating how it would help with respiratory development and oxygen levels and speech developmentt should I need more back up! Luckily they approved it.

If we had not been using that actual ADHC employed physio we would have been able to still apply through one of the early intervention providers we use – we do use 2 different ones – but either one is actually funded from ADHC even though they are a separate service.

Initially I was going to do this to get funding for a flued gas heater but was unsure how that would go and also I think you have the best chance the 1st time you apply – in theory you can apply annually but i am not sure how likely another application in 1 year would be – will wait a bit longer and aim for an ipad or something when my daughter is around 4 yrs old probably.

Also if I have used the early intervention providers to support my application, I don’t think I would have got a Brachiation Ladder approved as they do more play therapy or OT type things with her and I don’t think my application would have enough weight to it from them.

SO I guess my summary is that there is a lot of $$ out there but you have to get yourselves into the right places at the right times and see a variety of therapists…..I have actually dropped 1 early intervention provider because the travel was too much and I did not think we got enough benefit from it – we keep the 2nd one because they will visit us at home, but they only come 2 or 3 times per term for 1 hr so really do not change my child’s life in any great way at all……but the main reason I keep them on board is that they bring out different toys each time which my daughter loves, often they lend them between visits. If I need referrals they can write them and because they are ADHC funded, I am entitled to apply for more FAF funding in the future.

In addition they offer in home speech pathology to us for just $10 for an hour a fortnight which is just great and that therapist is fabulous – so I keep a pretty hopeless one in order to still be able to access a fabulous one if you see what I mean – everything I guess is a trade off and sometimes staying in the regular system is needed as well as doing your own things like IAHP :D ~ Helen.

If you would like to share information relating to funding in your area – wherever you are – please post below or send me an email.

~ Kristen

5 thoughts on “Funding Success – How one Australian family accessed funding for a Brachiation Ladder”

  1. Great post! I think you just about cover it all!
    A friend of mine used the Better Start resource funding (the $2100 you mentioned) to purchase an ipad for her son who has autism.
    After a battle with the FAF I was able to purchase an ipod and ipad and the Proloquo2go app for my daughter (who has DS).
    They are fantastic devices and if anything it makes all the kids at school think she is really cool because she has these devices – LOL.
    Really, her language has come along with the language apps and we are able to easily film her dance class and because she can operate it herself she is always watching and practicing the steps at home.
    They are amazing devices for our children. I can happily send you a list of apps we have found that are suitable to save you some time searching the net.

  2. would love to receive a list of apps for ipad, ipod etc for our son who has autism and our daughter who has severe dyspraxia any communication tools will help. thanks sherie

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