04 SES 03 C, Reflecting On Disability: Service Delivery, Social Models And Meta-Theory
Australia’s National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) with its move to individualised funding brings with it great optimism and possibility for individuals with disability. However, there is much still to be resolved about how it will operate. The inaugural Chair of the NDIA, Bruce Bonyhady likened the rollout to building a plane after it had taken off (Bonyhady, National Press Club Address, 2014).
By 2020 when the scheme is fully operational, it is estimated that it will have some 460, 000 participants and cost approximately 22 billion Australian dollars a year (NDIS website, http://www.ndis.gov.au/about-us/our-sites, n.d.). The level of funding received is determined by the impact of the disability on functioning and on other factors such as disadvantage.
Individualised funding is ‘a portable package of funds allocated for a particular person who is supported to choose how to spend it on their disability support needs’ (Fisher, Gleeson, Edwards, et al., 2010, p. v). The shift to individualised funding is an international trend which commenced in the 1970’s with adults in the Independent Living Movement (Dowson & Salisbury, 2001). Under such models the person with a disability and/or their family/advocate are key decision-makers in determining how, when and where the funding will be spent (Gallagher, Smith, Hardy, et al., 2012; Tracey, Johnston, Papps & Mahmic, 2018). The intent is that those with disabilities are able to assert greater control over their everyday lives (Lord & Hutchison, 2003). However, when the individual with a disability is of school age, where and when services should be delivered can become an issue.
The delivery of services during school hours has clear advantages and disadvantages depending on the stakeholder. Thus:
- for the children withdrawal from their classrooms for intervention may adversely affect their engagement with the curriculum, their peers and ultimately their learning;
- for the family delivery in school hours eases difficulties aroundgetting the child to therapy when they themselves are working and/or have other children to care for;
- for teachers and support staff there is anecdotal evidence that they are asked to coordinate the service delivery plan: a role for which they are neither trained nor paid as schools receive no funding under the NDIS;
- for school principals and executives there is an added layer of administration and potential issues around duty of care; and
- for service providers now working in a “bill-able hours” model,inability to access clients in school hours means that they are not able to earn during this period thus putting additional pressures on the financial viability of not-for-profit intervention services.
Comparing these perspectives is therefore critical to developing procedures and processes that enable effective implementation of the NDIS with this client group. This is especially so since in the state of New South Wales public school principals must approve the delivery of services within school hours.
This study therefore aimed to explore the perspectives of school-age children with disabilities, their families, teachers, principals and service providers on the provision of NDIS-funded services in school hours and on school premises. Specifically:
RQ1: What do stakeholders see as the advantages of service delivery at school?
RQ2: What do stakeholders see as the disadvantages of service delivery at school?
RQ3: What processes and procedures have been implemented to enable service delivery in school?
The project utilised a multiple case study approach to explore the experience of stakeholders who had experience of NDIS-funded services in school settings. Emphasis was given to whether and how NDIS-funded services were being delivered in these schools; the roles and responsibilities of stakeholders and their satisfaction with the outcomes achieved. Five case studies were conducted with each comprising the following stakeholders: • children/students who have an NDIS plan; • parents/carers whose children have an NDIS plan; • teachers whose students are receiving NDIS services in school; • principals/ school executive staff who had supported requests for NDIS funded services to be delivered in school; • service providers (private therapists as well as non-government organisations such as early intervention services). Semi-structured interviews were conducted with each of the stakeholders. As well as gathering data about the child’s disability and the nature and frequency of the services being delivered, questions explored the impact that the provision of service delivery was having on each of the stakeholders and the perceived benefits and disadvantages. Children were interviewed in the presence of their parent/care or teacher depending on their preference. Of particular interest was the opportunity for capacity building of school staff and the resulting impact on the ways in which they worked with the child and other students in their classes. All interviews were transcribed and given to the participants for member checking. Thematic analysis was then used to analyse the data.
Little evaluation has been done on the impact of the NDIS on schools as it is a very new scheme. This study is therefore timely and will provide much needed preliminary data on the implementation of NDIS-funded services for school age children. Given this, it will be imperative that the findings are disseminated widely and across a variety of platforms including, but not limited to, academic journal articles; presentations to key stakeholders at conferences; professional learning sessions; articles in the Conversation and reports aimed at parents and carers on parent websites.
Fisher K. R., Gleeson, R., Edwards, R., Purcal, C., Sitek, T., Dinning, B., Laragy, C., D’aegher, L. & Thompson, D. (2010). Effectiveness of Individual Funding Approaches for Disability Support. Canberra: Australian Government Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs. Gallagher, M., Smith, M., Hardy, M., & Wilkinson, H. Children & Society, Jan2012; 26(1): 74-85. Johnston, C., Luscombe, D. & Fordham, L. (2017). Working with families as part of early childhood intervention services : family-centred practice in an individualised funding landscape in Sukkar, H., Dunst, C.J. & Kirkby, J. (eds.). Early Childhood Intervention: Working with Families of Young Children with Special Needs. London: Routledge. Karlsson, P., Johnston, C. & Barker, K. (2017). Stakeholders' views of the introduction of assistive technology in the classroom: how family-centred is Australian practice for students with cerebral palsy? Child: Care, Health and Development, 43, 4, 598-607 Lord, J., & Hutchison, P. (2003). Individualised support and funding: building blocks for capacity building and inclusion. Disability & Society, 18(1), 71–86. Tracey, D., Johnston, C., Papps, F. & Mahmic, S. (2018) How do parents acquire information to support their child with a disability and navigate individualised funding schemes? Journal of Research in Special Education Needs. Available at: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/1471-3802.12390/full
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