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Council service for young children with SEND is praised by parents

Norfolk County Council, 7 July 2023 00:00

A highly popular Norfolk County Council service for young children with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND) has been praised by parents and carers, with 98% of those asked saying they would recommend it.

One of 120 services across the UK, Norfolk Portage Service is a free home-based visiting educational service for pre-school children with high needs SEND, providing intensive and sustained therapy to prepare youngsters for school.

In Norfolk it currently supports 318 children and their families and has helped around 7,000 families since it started here in the 1990s.

Nationally, Portage is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year. The Portage approach is renowned worldwide, gaining its name from the American city where it originated, Portage in Wisconsin.

As part of the Norfolk celebrations the service has been posting stories of a local family's Portage journey every day. Read these stories on the Norfolk Portage Service Facebook page.

One parent said: "Portage have helped us as a family overcome tasks we never thought were possible.

"Always giving advice on situations when needed and nothing is ever too much!

"I could not recommend them enough, the most support we get from professionals!"

Portage Co-ordinator, Melanie Warren, said: "We identify children at the earliest stage and visit them regularly at home to set long term goals and targets which make teaching and development visible and celebrated.

"We support parents and carers in how to build on their child's interests and help both parent and child develop confidence and a range of skills.

"We track each child's progress from initial assessment to conclusion and support them to have the smoothest transition possible into school or their next setting." 

Cllr Penny Carpenter, cabinet member for Children's Services, said: "I'm very proud the teams in our Portage Service are clearly held in such high regard by parents and are making a real difference in helping these young children thrive and develop in their early education."

Of a total of 45 parents surveyed in March 2023 about the service they received in Norfolk, comments included:

  • "I feel as it we have struck gold with our Portage support worker"
  • "Our little one has achieved so much in such a short amount of time"
  • "I cannot thank Portage enough for everything they have done to help us"
  • "A huge thank you for all the play ideas and support."
  • "Our worker is so warm and welcoming and filled us with so much confidence."
  • "I couldn't recommend the Portage Service enough."

Practitioners in the Portage service are trained early years professionals with a mission of 'Listen, Plan, Play, Learn' and an aim of reducing the social isolation which many families encounter. In its recent evaluation of 45 parents, 98% gave the service the highest satisfaction rate possible and said they would recommend it.

Norfolk Portage service works closely with health colleagues to deliver a rounded service, covering physical, cognitive, speech/language and communication, personal, social and emotional elements of development. It also offers water confidence classes and small SENsations parent and child groups in some areas of Norfolk.

Find out more about Portage on the Norfolk County Council website.

Last modified: 14 May 2024 12:45

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