Early Links Supporting Inclusion

The Key Worker Approach

The Key Worker Approach
Amy Early Intervention Team Leader

By Amy Cashmore

Early Intervention Specialist Teaching Team Leader


When starting early intervention, it can be overwhelming for parents and carers to navigate the different appointments, therapists, and support workers they are suddenly involved with. Fitting these new commitments into family life can be difficult, which is why the role of the key worker is essential to early intervention.

What is the key worker approach?

This approach involves a team of professionals working collaboratively and sharing the responsibilities of evaluating, planning, and implementing early intervention services for your child. One professional is chosen as the key worker and will be your family’s primary point of contact. Families are included as valued team members and are involved in all aspects of the child’s therapy.

Your key worker will be one of your child’s therapy workers, such as an early intervention specialist teacher, occupational therapist, speech pathologist, physiotherapist, or social worker. The key worker has most of the support hours allocated to them, and they will consult and collaborate with other therapists to implement different strategies into their sessions.

Why use the key worker approach?

This model is considered best practice for early intervention with children under seven and brings a child’s therapy supports into one primary contact to make it easier for families. The key worker approach supports clients by building a strong relationship between the client and their family and the key worker.

Having a key worker ensures that families have someone they can trust to help support them during difficult conversations regarding their child’s needs and who better understands the whole family’s needs. It also means that the family has somebody who will advocate for, and help the family advocate for, their child.

The Key Worker Approach

Amy at our Early Links Playgroup

The model in practice

At the heart of everything we do here at Early Links is helping our clients achieve their goals. So I was over the moon when one of my clients recently ‘graduated’ from Early Links. I began working with this client in 2019 when they started at our Maitland Playgroup. The playgroup team and I noticed that they needed some extra help and could benefit from early intervention, and I soon began working with the client and their family as their key worker.

This client’s goals were to overcome their separation anxiety and work on emotional regulation. Meeting fortnightly, we started working together to prepare them for the transition to school. Once they had started kindergarten, we worked on their ability to make meaningful connections with their peers. Having smashed their goals, this client no longer needs funding for early intervention support.

    Want to know more?

    You can find out more about how Amy and our early intervention specialist teachers can help on our early intervention specialist teachers page or by contacting us using the form below.

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