Portage and portage workers
Portage is a pre-school service offering in-home play-based sessions. It is sometimes referred to as 'inclusion' and may be managed by the Early Years Team.
Portage essentially provides an opportunity for your child to develop through play - and the scheme gets a big thumbs-up from Mumsnetters.
One Mumsnetter explains: "A portage worker will visit you at home regularly (ours was once a fortnight) to offer help, advice, guidance etc and give practical suggestions about what you can do to help your child. The help you get will vary according to your child's needs, but ours did things like:
- Suggesting ways to help with my son's sensory problems
- Working with us and our SALT to write social stories to help with his toilet-training and bedtime routines; giving us information about what extra help we could get (Family Fund, DLA etc)
- Arranging a place for our son in a summer playscheme
- Chasing up paperwork for us
Our portage worker was also our Early Years Inclusion Service worker, so she set up Individual Education Plan meetings with his pre-school and arranged for the local Reception teacher to attend. I can honestly say that she made our lives about 100 times easier."
Services vary and some offer better provision than others. And, of course, the portage worker who is assigned to your family will make a huge difference in terms of the support you receive.
In some areas, portage is restricted to a certain number of visits, but in others it is open-ended and should hopefully see your child through to school-age.
The service is not just for children with severe special needs - it can help any child who needs help with developmental issues. Portage workers usually only work during term-time.
Portage should be able to come to your child's nursery or pre-school if they attend one and advise on toys and learning. They should help to organise anything that needs to be in place at school, such as integration into school and liaising with teachers.
You may find there's a waiting list, so as one mum puts it: "Grab portage if it's offered!"
What Mumsnetters say about portage
- Portage, is brill! A trained portage worker will arrive with toys and try and engage your child in a fun and interactive way. An assessment is done on the first visit, then the assessment is taken back to 'the panel' where they decide whether or not your child would benefit from the service. If the panel approves (takes a couple of weeks) then the worker will come back and do further assessments to see where your child needs help (in what areas of development) and tailor future work in those areas. Children love the 'work' and the workers - ours is fabby, and lovely! misscutandstick
- Portage is offered in six-week blocks in our area, with a drop-in session every Monday for families between blocks or on the waiting list. Our portage worker liaises closely with the physiotherapist, paediatrician and SALT to ascertain targets for my daughter and then brings around lots of toys and games to help her achieve them. For example, my daughter needs to learn to isolate her index finger so she can point at things, and so my lovely portage worker brought lots of interesting cause and effect toys with buttons to press, to help stimulate her. Arabica