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  • Push for therapy assistants to be on-site in early childhood centres

    Author: Nicole Madigan

With access to allied health professionals by early childhood centres essential for early intervention, an increasing number of centres are adopting therapy assistants, allowing ongoing allied health support, under the guidance of fully trained professionals.

“Providing therapeutic support to a child between the ages of 0-7 have proven positive impacts on their capacity, independence, and engagement in the future,” said Rebecca Elliot, Clinical Practice Manager of Leor.

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A therapy Assistant can be an educator, therapy student or someone with a diploma in Therapy Assistance. They provide support for therapists by implementing therapy plans, working directly with children, families and educators under the supervision of a Key Therapist. 

“The therapy assistant will usually have sessions that are longer and more frequent in duration then the key therapist sessions and this provides additional support for the child to meet their goals,” said Ms Elliot.

“The therapy assistant will provide feedback to the therapist and access support as needed. As sessions progress, regular reviews will be completed to evaluate success or alterations to the program.”


While therapists can provide approximately an hour of intensive support to children, Therapy Assistants are able to spread this over a longer period.

“This supports a more organic implementation of strategies as the Therapy Assistant can immediately implement strategies relevant to situations occurring in the environment,” Ms Elliot said.

“Therapy Assistants will work with the centre’s routine and activities while identifying and providing opportunities to practice therapeutic goals. They work alongside the educators and can develop strong relationships and opportunities for upskilling due to their continued and extended attendance at centres.”

Onsite allied health professionals are becoming more popular within early childhood centres, due to an increasing understanding of the importance of accessible care.

According to Ms Elliot, therapists being present in the early childhood centres can provide the following support:

• Upskilling educators and increasing their confidence and capacity in supporting children with high support needs
• Providing therapy in an environment the child is comfortable and familiar with.
• Screening children to catch and support any areas that they are struggling with early.
• Support Educators in having challenging discussions and follow up with families.
• Providing holistic support for families.
• Having a strong link and relationship between Educators and Therapists to provide cohesive support.
• Advocating for a child’s needs

“Therapy assistants can work with any allied health discipline depending on the child’s goals and support needs,” Ms Elliot said.

“They can also provide therapy intervention for goals across multiple disciplines simultaneously. This allows them to provide holistic and cohesive supports. An example is developing a child’s communication as well as fine motor in the same activity.”

Because of the broad nature of the therapy assistant’s role, the children are able to develop positive relationships, rather than having to spend time with multiple therapists.

“The child and the Therapy Assistant are able to form a close therapeutic relationship, allowing the therapist to be the expert in the therapeutic intervention as well as being an expert in the child.”

The lower cost of Therapy Assistants and their ability to work across several disciplines, their use allows more financial leeway for families to engage them for longer periods of time.

“The goal of on-site therapy assistants is to provide holistic and comprehensive therapy support for a child in all their natural environments incorporating therapy into everyday activities” Ms Elliot said.

“And to provide an individualised support plan that is not limited by disciplines, environment, finances or time.”


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Nicole Madigan

Nicole Madigan is a widely published journalist with more than 15 years experience in the media and communications industries.

Specialising in health, business, property and finance, Nicole writes regularly for numerous high-profile newspapers, magazines and online publications.

Before moving into freelance writing almost a decade ago, Nicole was an on-air reporter with Channel Nine and a newspaper journalist with News Limited.

Nicole is also the Director of content and communications agency Stella Communications ( and a children's author.