Informal, Mainstream and Formal Supports?

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What are informal, mainstream and formal supports? The NDIS has its own language for describing things. It can be very confusing for parents and carers to make sense of this at times.

The three terms often used are informal, mainstream and formal supports. Let’s start with the first two terms.

While the NDIS will fund reasonable and necessary supports for your child, there are some things that won’t be funded. Activities (such as sport) or resources (such as swing sets) which are normally provided by parents, won’t be funded by the NDIS. These are considered “informal supports”. Supports which are funded by other organisations (e.g. education and health) will not be funded. These are termed “mainstream supports”.

Informal supports

You won’t receive funding from the NDIS for informal supports. The NDIS views this as something that most parents provide for their children, e.g. arranging swimming classes, sports, and clubs. In other words, extracurricular activities are for parents to provide. You and your family are also considered informal supports for your child.

Your support coordinator though can play a role in helping you identify your child’s needs and locating resources or programs in your local community that are a good match. For example, let’s say your child wants to play cricket. A support coordinator can help you find a team that is inclusive and will be supportive of your child’s needs.

What about mainstream supports?

Mainstream supports are things such as education, medication, or other community services. Sometimes there is a fine line here. For instance, a child might need a special wheelchair and receives funding from the NDIS to buy that wheelchair. The same child may also have diabetes. However, the NDIS would see the child’s health needs as being better managed via existing services such as GPs and health specialists. The NDIS would not pay for these things.

So what does the NDIS fund?

The NDIS only provides funding for ‘formal’ supports and assumes that you will tap into informal supports and mainstream supports within your community on your own.

Formal supports are those resources or services that your child needs to be able to achieve quality of life and eventually independence. For many children this may be about accessing therapy, specific resources (e.g. communication devices), and people to help them access opportunities within the community (e.g. support workers).

This is where a support coordinator comes in as they can help you identify the service providers you need and work towards locking supports in.

Ok, let’s summarize what we covered in this blog:

  1. Informal supports are parents and carers, the child’s family, and resources and programs within the community.
  2. Mainstream Supports are community access to education, medication, community services (e.g. school, GPs, and other health services).
  3. Formal supports are things like therapy, physical assistance, assistive technology, and so on. In other words, any supports approved for funding in your NDIS plan.

Most importantly, if you request support coordination, your support coordinator at Kid Connect can help you organize supports whether funded or not. They can also help you understand your child’s plan and get the most from it. You don’t have to do all of this by yourself.

Want to know more? Please feel free to contact Miika on 041 012 956.

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