What does a Portage Worker do?
Portage workers provide a home-visiting service for pre-school children (under five years old) who have special educational needs, and their families. They work to a portage model which aims to develop play, communication, relationships and learning. The model places importance on the family working together, and on inclusion and participation in the community.
Portage workers often have an on-going caseload of between eight and fifteen families. Work with each family is likely to include:
- an initial assessment of the child’s needs; including social, cognitive, motor and language skills
- tailoring a programme of tasks and activities to the individual child, in agreement with the parents/carers
- visiting the family weekly to check on progress and set new goals
- writing regular reports on development and long-term targets
- consulting with other professionals such as psychologists or health visitors.
What's the working environment like working as a Portage Worker?Portage workers spend a great deal of time visiting families in their own homes, the remainder of time is spent putting together reports or attending meetings in an office.
They work around 35 hours a week, although part-time positions may be available. Evening and weekend work maybe necessary for visiting parents who work during the day, so flexibility is important.
What does it take to become a Portage Worker?To be a portage worker you should:
- have a flexible approach
- be able to maintain confidentiality
- have an understanding of child development
- be able to work within a multi-agency team
- have listening skills and be able to explain tasks and the portage model to parents
- have the ability to keep accurate records and write reports.
Portage Worker Career OpportunitiesPortage workers are usually employed by local authorities or children’s charities. There are around 140 portage services registered in Britain. The programme is still very much in development, so while opportunities are increasing there may not be services in some local areas.
It is possible to become a senior portage worker with supervisory or management responsibilities. Portage workers may also move into other early years professions, for example nursery nursing.
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