What is Portage?
Portage is a specialist educational home visiting service for pre-school children who are aged 0 - 5 and have special needs.
This service helps young children whose development is delayed.
Key to the success of work with Portage is the involvement of parents / carers who are recognised as the best people to teach very young children.
Children learn from birth but some children learn more slowly and parents / carers are not always sure how best to help their child develop. Portage can help to provide the kinds of activities and games that are best suited to encouraging a child’s development.
Why does Portage see children in the home?
Young children spend most of their time at home, it is where a great deal of learning takes place and is where there is the most opportunity to practise new skills.
Who can get help from Portage?
Any baby or young child still at home with their parents, not attending an early years setting, who appears to be behind in certain areas of his or her development.
The service also sees children who have a recognised disability e.g. Down’s Syndrome or difficulty with vision or hearing. This usually involves working closely with other therapists.
How does Portage work?
A home visitor from the Portage service will visit you once a week for an initial block of six home visit sessions.
Together with you they will look at what your child has already learnt to do.
From there they will agree the next steps for the child
These steps may depend on ability and will be specific to your child’s needs. They can be anything from learning how to:
- Sit while unsupported
- Pick up a rattle or other object
- Wave goodbye or communicate in some other way
Once the way forward has been decided with you, your Portage home visitor will work out strategies to help you reach it.
Most of this teaching takes place through play because that is how small children learn best.
What else can Portage help with?
The Portage workers understand that bringing up children with delayed development can be very demanding.
Your Portage home visitor will be able to understand more about your experience and will do their best to answer any questions and provide advice about any problems.
This may include helping you make contact with other services. In some cases your Portage home visitor may take on a keyworking role to assist with coordinating specialist services.
What can parents do to help?
Parents are their child's first teacher. Many of the suggestions from the service will be part of play and daily routines. Some activities may be more specific and require some time to be set aside so that these strategies can be practices.
Daily practise is important as children who have difficulties with learning may need longer to understand and process information. It is not uncommon for children who are experiencing difficulties to forget what they have learned, without regular reminders that they will get from daily sessions with parents / carers.
How does the service decide when to stop the visits?
After 6 visits, there will be a review. If the review identifies that more sessions would be helpful then these will be agreed.
There is usually a break of a few weeks during which time you can help your child practise and develop the skills they are learning. You can still speak with and get advice from your Portage worker during this break.
If your child begins to attend an early years setting, the Portage Home Visitor can support you and help the setting understand your child’s needs.
Portage Service – Drop-in sessions are for children who have been referred to Portage.
Date: Mondays during school term time
Time: 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Venue: Hackney Ark
Who provides this service?
In Hackney the Portage service is part of the Inclusion and Specialist Support Team run by Hackney Learning Trust.
Portage visitors are trained to have a wide range of knowledge about child development.
They also have years of experience of working with children under the age of 5 who have a range of special needs.
Who else might be involved?
The Portage service works closely with other services and they may arrange joint visits if this would be helpful.
Other professionals that Portage may involve are:
Parents and carers who have received help and support from this service in the past rate it very highly.
Record Last Updated on: 05/06/2018