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Child Development

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The Child Development Service is a non-medical service of Te Whatu Ora MidCentral.






What is the Child Development Service?

The Child Development Service (CDS) is a non-medical service provided by a team of allied health professionals. We provide assessment and follow-up services to children/tamariki with developmental or ongoing disability needs.
We see children aged from birth to 16 years.
Children/tamariki might be seen by one person in our team or several, depending on their needs. We work closely with the professionals who refer to us such as paediatricians, general practitioners (GPs), Plunket, and iwi providers.  We also have strong ties with early childhood education providers, schools, and the Ministry of Education, so we can provide a coordinated service for you and your child/tamaiti.
Raising a child/tamaiti with developmental issues has its own unique challenges. CDS is here to partner with you to help with the challenges and develop your child’s abilities. Whenever possible we will work alongside you at your home.

How does the Child Development Service work?

A health or education professional may refer a child/tamaiti at any time for support for their development or disability. We are funded by the Ministry of Health to provide services according to specific entry criteria, so we accept all referrals that meet these criteria. New referrals are discussed by our team to check we are the right service to help, and once accepted we will let you know straight away.
When one of our team first meets with you, we will talk about your family/whānau and what difficulties your child/tamaiti is having. This helps us understand you and your goals for your child/tamaiti so we can work together to decide on the best follow up to those goals. For very young children/tamariki, this might mean you help to deliver therapy alongside us, which gives your child/tamaiti the best possible start to life.
You don’t have to pay anything for our service. 
We work Monday to Friday, 8:00am – 4:30pm.

Who is in the Child Development Service Team?


Visiting Neuro-Developmental Therapist (VNT)

We are registered occupational therapists or physiotherapists and work with babies/pēpē (0-2 years old) who are premature or have movement issues. We assess your baby’s play and movements, and how this impacts on their development. We visit your baby/pēpē at home, show you how to support their development, and give you ideas to help your baby/pēpē learn and move.
We address feeding and swallowing concerns in babies and children. If your child/tamaiti is referred to us, we will assess to find out if their swallowing skills are safe and effective, and give support to keep them safe. We also work with children/tamariki who are problem feeders (i.e. picky eaters) to help improve the variety of foods they eat. Our intervention and therapy are usually at your home, but can include clinic-based seminars or therapy.

Clinical Psychologist

We provide specialist assessment if there are worries about the development of your child’s learning, social, and/or thinking skills.  Children/tamariki are referred to us by their paediatrician. We meet with you, your child/tamaiti, and their teachers. We want to find out about your child’s strengths and difficulties both now, and when they were younger. One outcome might be a diagnosis (e.g., Intellectual Disability, Autism Spectrum Disorder), but for every family/whānau, we try to explain why the difficulties are happening and give ideas for how best to help. 

ASD Coordinator

We work alongside families of children/tamariki, who have been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) within the last 12 months. If you have relocated into the MidCentral region within the last 12 months and your child/tamaiti already has an ASD diagnosis, your family/whānau is also eligible for support. We support you to identify and prioritise developmental goals for your child/tamaiti, and we provide information on services and resources within the community that will assist you with your goals.

Occupational Therapist

We provide assessment and intervention for children/tamariki (2-16 years old) and their families who are having difficulty with everyday living tasks. Our intervention is guided by the goals you and your child/tamaiti identify. We might look at your child’s sensory, motor, and perceptual skills. Or we might apply for Ministry of Health funding for equipment, wheeled mobility, and housing modifications. You might be invited to group sessions that we run from time to time.

Social Worker

We work in partnership with families of children/tamariki with a variety of disability needs to help you identify and access the resources and services you need. Our work is largely decided by your child’s disability-related needs and the impact these have on your family/whānau. We focus on accessing the right supports, and understanding the practical and emotional impact of disability, while supporting your family/whānau in living life to its fullest potential.


We look at how physical skills impact children/tamariki (2-16 years old). We might see your child/tamaiti at your home, early childhood education centre or in our gym. We aim to provide you with tools to help improve your child’s physical skills or disabilities. This might be done using play, stretches, strengthening and balance ideas. We can also access some equipment for walking and standing through Ministry of Health funding. Sometimes we run group sessions for children/tamariki as well. We aim to support you in your ambitions to help your child/tamaiti live life to their fullest potential.

CDS Coordinator

I am the day to day manager for the Child Development Service. I facilitate referrals and co-ordinate the members of the CDS team to ensure the right professionals are involved with the care of your child/tamaiti. Once your child/tamaiti has been referred or seen by our service, you can ring me if you have concerns about your child’s referral or progress. We can plan further follow up or intervention if we need to. I am available to help you with any issues you may have with regard to the Child Development Service and can link you to other services if I need to.

Contact Details

Palmerston North Hospital
Private Bag 11036,
Palmerston North 4442
Telephone (06) 350 8293

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