A parenting program that brings benefits for parents and children with developmental disabilities will become unavailable for most families under the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). A report on the Stepping Stone Triple P program, which has attracted 3,000 participants in three states, has seen significant improvement in mental health and financial hardship among families with children with developmental disabilities, such as autism and cerebral palsy.

The five-year study assessing the program is collaboration between the University of Sydney, The University of Queensland and Monash University.

However, the study’s lead investigator, University of Sydney Professor Stewart Einfeld, said the NDIS funding and delivery model will prevent the program from being easily delivered and accessed by parents. He said 95 per cent of participants were serviced through organisations like schools or disability agencies that they were already connected with but sufficient funding is no longer available because funding predominantly goes to individuals.

“We cannot expect these parents, who are often under a great deal of stress to pool NDIS funding, or to organise and sustain these kinds of groups.”

While the majority of managers from organisations who delivered the Triple P program as part of the study said they wanted to continue its delivery, they said they would need to rely on support from NDIS to do so.

Children with developmental disabilities are up to four times more likely than other children to develop significant emotional and behavioural problems, leading to significantly higher rates of parental distress and anxiety. And 55 per cent of parents who participated in the Stepping Stones Triple P program reported improvements in their own stress levels and wellbeing.

The program also attracted more than four times as many participants as traditional specialist clinical consultations, showing it could reach people that would generally miss out on these services.