Portage is a home visiting educational service for pre-school children with special needs. It helps parents to support their child's learning.

The Portage method of working with families started in the town of Portage in Wisconsin, America, from where it gets its name.

Using the Portage service

The service is available to families who live within the city boundary and have a pre-school child (between birth and fifth birthday) who has:

  • delays or difficulties in more than one area of development; or
  • a diagnosis which may predict such difficulties.

Children with the most severe developmental difficulties and children not accessing other pre-school provision will be given priority.

Sure Start Portage is also available for pre-school children in the Sure Start areas of York who:

  • are 'looked after' by the local authority; or
  • were born low weight and pre-term

How Portage works

A Portage home visitor will visit the family home for about 1 hour each week. Together, parents and home visitors plan activities to encourage and promote the child’s development.

Between visits, the family practises the activities.

Once every 6 months, the Portage Coordinator, home visitor and family meet to set long term goals to work towards.

Portage home visitors

All Portage home visitors have successfully completed a Portage Basic workshop, which is accredited through the National Portage Association. They are trained in making learning easier, by breaking skills down into small steps. They will design activities to help encourage and promote participation, play, communication, independence and learning.


Parents can refer themselves to the service. The Portage Coordinator, who is a Specialist Senior Educational Psychologist, will visit you to discuss the service.

Professionals should contact the service for an initial consultation. They will then need to gain the parent's agreement and send a written referral giving details of the child and family.

Also see

Portage Co-ordinator

Specialist Early Years Support Team

Hob Moor Children's Centre, Green Lane, Acomb, York, YO24 4PS

Telephone: 01904 555085