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Hampshire Portage Service

Portage is a home and early years setting visiting educational service for pre-school children with additional support needs and their families. 

Please Note

Portage referrals now need to be completed using the electronic form here SfYC Portage Support | Children and Families | Hampshire County Council (

Who to contact

Contact Name
Portage team
Contact Position
County Portage team
01962 847070

Where to go

Hampshire Portage Service
The Castle
SO23 8UG

Other Details


Referral required
Referral Details

Referral to the Portage service can be made by a parent, an early years educational setting or by a health professional.

Local Offer

Local Offer

Portage is an educational service that is offered to children with complex additional needs and their families, in their own home or in their early years setting (pre-school, nursery or childminder).

Contact Name
County Portage team
Contact Telephone
01962 847070
Contact Email
Portage service
PECS, Braille, Makaton, AAC
What does your service do?

Portage is a home and early years educational service for pre-school children with additional support needs and their families.

  • Portage is for children who have a significant delay by approximately one third of the child’s age in at least two different skill areas which must include cognition or, have social communication difficulties that will impact on the child’s progress. An individual, flexible package of support will be provided depending on the needs of the child and family. The Portage Inclusion Practitioner (PIP) will work in partnership with families and professionals to plan appropriate targets to work towards, and will liaise with early year’s settings and schools to ensure a smooth transition.
Who does your service provide for?

The Portage service provides for preschool children aged 0 to 5 years with additional needs and their families. The following criteria for Portage should be met:

• Your child is aged 0-5 yrs and has at least one term before entering school.

• Your child’s development is delayed by approximately one third of their age in at least two different skill areas which must include cognition or, has social communication difficulties where the family or setting require substantial support in order to meet the child’s developmental needs or;

• Your child has a recognised syndrome or condition that is likely to lead to a delay in their learning.

• You must agree to be available to meet with the Portage Inclusion practitioner(PIP) on a regular basis.

• A referral form has been completed by a health, early years professional or parents with the understanding that consent to the referral has been given. There are no specific types of disabilities that we do not cater for; every referral is considered and discussed. A decision is then made once  initial contact has taken place with the Inclusion Team Leader or other Portage Inclusion Practitioner (PIP) and your child's name has been added to the waiting list.

How can I start using the service?

Our Portage service has an open referral process and referrals can be made by health professionals, Early years practitioners and parents.

There is no charge for the service and personal budgets cannot be used to pay for the service. It is centrally funded through Hampshire.

Depending on the need in each area and the number of referrals, there may be a waiting list. These can vary in length depending on the demands in that area. However, we endeavour to start working with you as a family, by allocating a Portage Inclusion practitioner (PIP) or volunteer to your family, to enable us to meet the needs of your child and their family as quickly as possible.

Requests for support forms can be accessed on:

Other professionals, health colleagues, multi-agency SEN panel can contact the service directly. 

Information can also be accessed through the National Portage Association:

Where is it located and what areas does it cover?

Core Portage is a countywide service and can be accessed across all 7 districts of Hampshire listed below:

  • Eastleigh & Winchester District
  • Havant District
  • New Forest District and South Test Valley 
  • Basingstoke and Deane and North Test Valley District 
  • East Hants District
  • Hart and Rushmoor  
  • Fareham and Gosport  

Teams can be contacted using the address and phone number here:

How are decisions made about who can use your service?

Once a request for support has been received, the Inclusion Team Leader (ITL) or Portage Inclusion Practitioner will arrange to contact you via phone, Microsoft teams or home visit. An assessment is carried out to ascertain the individual support that may be offered.

Once your child has been referred to the local Portage service and meets the criteria, once your child reaches the top of the waiting list the ITL will allocate you to a Portage Inclusion Practitioner (PIP).

Your child will be allocated to a PIP depending on the number of children they are already supporting, geographical area of where your family lives and the package offered to you as a family.

The Portage Inclusion Practitioner(PIP) will review their caseload with their ITL at individual supervision and team meetings and adjust the level of support provided as the needs of your child changes.

During the Initial contact, the ITL/PIP will explain the service that we provide, clarify if your child meets the criteria to receive Portage and answer any questions that you as parents may have.

If Portage support is offered you will be contacted by telephone to arrange a mutually convenient time for a home visit to meet your Portage Inclusion Practitioner.

If your child does not meet our criteria to access Portage, the Inclusion Team Leader or Portage Inclusion Practitioner will discuss with alternative options and sign post you and your child to other agencies that may be able to support you.

How do you communicate with service users and how are they involved in decision making?

During the initial contact, the Inclusion Team Leader (ITL) will explain to your family that they are welcome to contact them at any time with any concerns with regards to the Portage support that you as parents receive.

You are encouraged to speak to Your allocated Portage Inclusion Practitioner(PIP) with any comments or concerns you have about the support you are receiving.

Additionally, you can contact the ITL, via phone, e-mail or letter during the time you are receiving Portage support.

A complaints procedure is included in the Welcome Pack should you as a parent wish to make a more formal complaint. The welcome pack can be accessed here:

Children receiving Portage may be supported by other agencies and professionals within the fields of health, social and education. Therefore, effective consultation and collaboration is vital on a regular basis to ensure that all areas of your child’s needs are being met. If you have a significant amount of professionals involved with your child, and it is appropriate to do so, your Portage Inclusion Practitioner can arrange a team around the child (TAC)meeting.

The first set of targets can be written as soon as it is appropriate for your child's needs,. A variety of materials and developmental journals can be used to make initial and on-going assessments of your child’s skills and views of other professionals working with your child will always be taken into account when setting targets.

Portage reports will be written in a concise, unambiguous and specific format, ensuring that only relevant and appropriate information is shared within the report.

You, as parents are empowered to support your child without portage when: your child has made significant progress and no longer needs Portage or another service is now meeting your child's needs (for example if your child's needs can be met through the support they receive when they start nursery) or when they have completed transition in to reception year at school. 

Portage leaflets, support, guidance and advice are available on Portage web pages and are available for parents, practitioners and professionals:

Is your service fully accessible?

Our service is based within the home of the child or their early years education setting. Therefore, accessibility for home visits is subject to the families own home environment.

However, every effort is made to make sure our service is as accessible as possible, utilising the resources available through Hampshire County Council such as translators, Braille, large print, hearing loops, Makaton signs and symbols etc.

Similarly all pre-school or nursery and childcare settings and childminders are encouraged to make reasonable adjustment to their environment to ensure all families can be included.

What training are the staff supporting children and young people with SEN and Disabilities had or are having?

All staff are qualified and experienced to a high level.

All PIP's have completed a recognised National Portage Association Basic Workshop and several members of staff have completed an advanced course to become accredited to support further training for practitioners.

They will have a sound knowledge of child development and competencies in assessing, designing delivering and evaluating teaching skills.

In addition, they have effective communication and people skills.

PIP's have support through supervision to continue their own ongoing workforce and professional development by accessing a variety of training and courses.

Some members of the Hampshire Portage Team specialise in certain areas, for example sleep, toileting, Video Interaction Guidance, Behaviour Management and Makaton signing.

The Portage service promotes an active working partnership with a variety of agencies that are involved with your children and your family.

Joint working visits are often made with other agencies also involved with your child, sharing information and strategies to support you as a family.

PIPs will attend and chair meetings such as Team Around the Child (TAC) to ensure that all relevant information is shared to enable all needs of the family to be met effectively. Views of other professionals working with your child will be taken into account when setting targets.

How will I know my child is safe?

The safety of children is paramount and all Inclusion team members and early years practitioners are responsible for the safety of the children that they are working with. All Portage Inclusion Practitioners and volunteers are Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checked. 

The Portage team have a responsibility to ensure all children who use their service are safe. All Inclusion staff have a good understanding of the working together to safeguard children document. The team takes a lead in providing support, advice and guidance to lead practitioners within settings for safeguarding through support groups, policy documents and direct links with the LCSB team. Safer recruiting practices are adhered to by all recruiting staff. Please contact local offices using the following link

The professional phone line 01329 225379 provides instant professional advice and guidance to all staff that have concerns over a child’s welfare. The reception and assessment (R&A) team 0300 555 1384. Out of Hours 0300 555 1373 are there to provide immediate child protection advice. The Local Authority designated office (LADO) role 01962 876364 supports practitioners with any allegations made against adults working in the childcare sector. 

Which of the following applies to your setting?
Our service is delivered in the home
What communication methods are you familiar with?
Signs and symbols
Does your service include children and young people with:
Signs and symbols
Who can I contact for further information?

The  National portage association:

The Hampshire Inclusion team:



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