What is Portage?
Portage is a specialist education home visiting service for pre-school children aged 0 - 5 who have special needs or whose development is delayed.
The service recognise parents and carers are the best people to teach very young children. Parents and carers involvement and support is key to the success of the work Portage do.
Children learn from birth but some children learn at a slower pace than others for various reasons. When this happens parents and carers are not always sure how best to help their child develop. The Portage service can help 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 so it is where most learning happens. Home is also where there is the most opportunity to practice new skills.
Who can get help from Portage?
Portage are here to help any baby or young child who appears to be; behind in certain areas of his or her development, is still at home with their parents, is not attending an early years setting,
Portage also see children who have a recognised disability such as Down’s Syndrome or difficulty with their vision or hearing. Work with these children usually involves close working 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 and agree the next steps or goals for your 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 this next step is agreed with you a 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?
Portage workers understand that bringing up children with delayed development can be very demanding. During home visits they will get to know and understand more about your experience. They will do their best to answer your questions and offer advice about any problems.
This may include helping you make contact with other services. In some cases a Portage home visitor may take on a key working role to help with coordinating specialist services.
What can parents do to help?
Parents are their child's first teacher. Many suggestions from the service will be part of play and daily routines. However some activities or strategies may be more specific and need some time to be set aside so they can be practiced.
Daily practise is important because children who have difficulties with learning may need longer to understand and process information. It is not unusual for children who have difficulties to forget what they have learned. Regular reminders during daily sessions with parents or carers help them learn and remember.
How does the service decide when visits should stop?
After 6 visits, the service will review their involvement. If this review identifies more sessions would be helpful then a new arrangement will be agreed.
The service often has a break in contact of a few weeks so you can help your child practice and develop the skills they are learning. You can still speak with or get advice from your Portage worker during this break.
If your child starts attending an early years setting the Portage Home Visitor can support you with the transition and help the setting understand your child’s needs.
Portage Drop-in sessions
Portage Service drop-in sessions are for any child who has been referred to Portage. They are a useful way to have contact with the service if there is a wait for a worker to visit you at home.
Date: Mondays during school term time
Time: 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Venue: Hackney Ark
Who provides this service?
Portage is part of the Inclusion and Specialist Support Team from Hackney Education.
Portage visitors are trained to have a wide range of knowledge about child development and have years of experience of working with children under 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. Professionals that Portage may involve are:
Record Last Updated on: 13/01/2021