Bexley Portage Service

Bexley Portage Service
Portage is a home visiting educational service for pre-school children with additional
support needs and their families. It started in 1969 in a small town called Portage in Wisconsin
in the U.S.A. The first U.K. Portage scheme was set up in 1976 and Portage is now delivered
throughout the UK, as well as internationally. All Portage Home Visitors should have attended a
Basic Portage Workshop and ideally have experience of working with pre-school children and
their families.
Where are Bexley Portage Service based?
Bexley Portage was established in October 1995 and is based at the Child Development Centre at
Queen Mary’s Hospital and funded by Bexley Council.
Bexley Portage Service team
Currently there is one part-time Senior Portage Home Visitor, Kelly Wilkinson. The service also
has two part time Portage Home Visitors, Pamela Thompson and Frances Bush. The service is
line managed and supervised by Tamsin Cox, a Senior Educational Psychologist. There is a
Portage Steering Group, which meets termly and it consists of professionals, as well as
Parents/Carers. Bexley Portage follows the requirements of the National Portage Association’s
Code of Practice. The Senior Portage Home Visitor attends the Child Development Co-ordination
Service (C.D.C.S) Business Meetings and Portage Workers also attend C.D.C.S. assessment and
planning meetings at Queen Mary’s Hospital. Professional development is encouraged and
training is mainly provided by the National Portage Association and Bexley Council.
Family Events
There are also social events for Portage families such as Funtimes, Parties, Teddy Bears Picnic
and Outings.
As well as delivering Portage Home Visits, we are keen to develop other aspects of the service,
and these have included: Parents/Carers Group, P.E.C.S., access to the sensory room at St.
Augustine’s Children’s Centre.
What will happen once my child is referred?
An initial assessment is carried out within 6/8 weeks of referral and advice is given on how
parents/carers can help their child enjoy play and make progress. They can also be signposted to
other services. Home visits then take place every 4 weeks when families are on the ‘First Steps to
Portage’ list. After receiving ‘First Steps to Portage’ for approximately 6-12months, visits are then
carried out every 2weeks. Each home visit lasts approximately one hour.
How is my child’s progress tracked?
If appropriate, the child’s current skill level is determined by completion of the Portage Checklist.
Other Checklists such as Trackers, G.E.M.S, S.I.P.S, & E.Y.F.S. can also be used for assessment
and setting goals. Home Visitors work in partnership with the child’s parents/carers, and together
they devise activities that build on the child’s established or emerging skills. The parent/carer
carries out the agreed activity daily with their child and progress can be recorded on a chart. Each
activity can be broken down into smaller steps to make it more attainable. Portage always looks at
what a child can do rather than what they can’t do and this makes it very positive for
parents/carers and their children.
When will my child stop receiving Portage input?
Portage home visits continue until a child is 3 years old and attends a Pre-School place for 15
hours a week. Portage may not be offered if the L.A. provides alternative support at home e.g.
BEAS (Bexley Early Autism Support).
When requested, the Portage Home Visitor will liaise with the nursery to share relevant information
regarding the child’s development, making transition easier for the child.
Do Portage work as part of a Multi-Disciplinary team?
Home Visitors have close links with other agencies involved with their families, such as the Child
Development Co-ordination Service (C.D.C.S), Children’s Centres, Speech & Language Therapy,
Physiotherapy, Occupational Therapy, Health Visitors, Assessment Teachers, Educational
Psychologists, Community Nurses, Ellenor, Little Stars, S.N.A.P, Mencap, etc. Joint home visits or
joint therapy sessions are often undertaken and relevant agencies are invited to our team
Bexley Portage Service operates an open referral system, and the criteria for referral are:
The family should live within the Borough of Bexley and be willing to participate in the scheme for
a minimum of 6 months.
The child has a minimum of 6-9 month delay in three or more areas of development, or has a
known disability that is likely to cause a delay.
The child has no offer of a Pre-School place for 15 hours or more.
The child has no alternative support from the Local Education Authority at home, e.g. BEAS.
Bexley Portage Service, Child Development Centre,
3rd Floor, B-Block, Queen Mary’s Hospital, Frognal Avenue, Sidcup, DA14 6LT 0208 302
2678 ext. 4286/ 07828847093