Portage is an educational home-visiting service for pre-school children who have significant special educational needs and disabilities.

We support parents and carers in their own home to develop their child's play and learning and promote positive outcomes. Parents and carers know their children best and it is easier for children to learn in familiar, comfortable surroundings. The idea is to have fun together.

Many parents have found Portage very helpful because of its supportive and positive approach and the impact upon their child's development.

Eligibility and referral

Any pre-school children who have significant special educational needs and disabilities can be considered for the service from birth to the time they are eligible for funded childcare for 3 year olds.

Parents and carers can self-refer their child to our service through a Portage referral form. Please contact your Inclusion Service area team for more information.

Children can also be referred following discussion with the parent or carer through the Early Help Assessment and Plan (EHA/EHP).

How Portage works

Once a child has been accepted into the service a Portage home visitor will agree a play plan with the parents or carers based on what the child can already do. The plan will last for an agreed period of time and will set small achievable targets which enable the child to demonstrate success through regular programmes of activities.

A Portage home visitor with special training in Portage will visit the child at home usually weekly or fortnightly normally on the same day at a set time during a period equivalent to school terms.

During the visit, the Portage home visitor will play alongside you and your child, sharing knowledge of how to teach them a skill as well as how to observe their progress.

Between visits we encourage you and other members of the family to find time each day to practice the activity and observe how the child gets on. The activities can often be included in your child’s normal daily routine or play.

At the end of each block of visits we will carry out a more detailed review of your child's progress. These reviews aim to celebrate success and outline the focus for the next block of visits.

Sharing information with other professionals

With your permission:

  • We will share any relevant information with other professionals working with your child, such as their nursery special educational needs co-ordinator (SENCO), educational psychologist, speech and language therapists, occupational therapist or physiotherapists.
  • We will make contact with other professionals so that relevant information can help us to plan and work with the child together.
  • We will inform your local Children and Family Wellbeing Service (previously children's centres) that you are receiving Portage services.

When your child leaves the service the Portage home visitor will share any relevant information regarding their progress with their nursery or other setting.

Lancashire Portage Protocol

The Lancashire Portage Protocol sets out how the service operates, including; referrals, priority and waiting lists.


Please contact your Inclusion Service area team