Portage Home Visitor

The Job and What's Involved

As a portage home visitor (or portage worker), you would provide a home-visiting service for pre-school children with developmental or learning difficulties, physical disabilities or other special needs. You would help parents to encourage their children's development by suggesting activities and daily routines to make learning fun.

Your work would include:

  • Observing the child and talking to the parents to identify the skills the child already has.
  • Deciding with the parents which skills are most important for the child's future learning.
  • Suggesting a programme of activities for the parents and child to practise together.
  • Breaking down tasks that are difficult or take a long time into small steps.
  • Providing an activity chart or notebook for parents to record their child's progress.
  • Visiting each week to check on progress and agree on new goals.
  • Writing progress reports and working with the parents to develop long-term goals.

You would work closely with other professionals, such as health visitors, social workers, physiotherapists and speech therapists.

You would work around 35 hours a week, although part-time jobs may be available. You may sometimes need to work in the evenings and at weekends to visit parents who work during the day.

You would be based in an office, but spend a lot of your time visiting families in their own homes.

Full-time portage home visitors can earn from £16,000 to £18,500 a year. With experience this can rise to between £19,000 and £22,000.

Senior portage workers can earn between £25,000 and £28,000.

Many portage home visitors are part-time and earn a portion of full-time rates (known as 'pro rata' payment).

Getting Started with this Career Choice

There are around 140 portage services registered in Britain.

You would usually be employed by local authorities or children's charities.

Vacancies are advertised in local newspapers, on local authority websites, and on LGcareers.

Education and Training

You will need experience of working with children under the age of five, and an understanding of child development. You will also usually need one of the following:

A relevant professional qualification such as teaching, social work or nursing.

An early years qualification such as NVQ Level 3 in Early Years Care and Education.

Visit the Early Years and Playwork Qualifications Database for details of early years and childcare qualifications.

As you will be working with children, you will need Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) clearance.

With some local authorities you may be able to start as a volunteer portage worker.

A Few More Exams You Might Need

Before you start work you will attend a three-day, full-time (or part-time equivalent) basic training workshop led by a National Portage Association (NPA) accredited trainer. Your employer may pay for this. Visit the training page of the NPA website for a list of local workshops.

After your basic training, you will be supervised for six months by qualified colleagues, before becoming a qualified portage home visitor.

Once qualified, you will be supported by regular supervision meetings with a senior colleague.

Your employer may also provide professional development programmes and opportunities for networking with other professionals.

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Skills and Personal Qualities Needed

A portage home visitor needs:

  • An understanding of child development.
  • Good communication and 'people' skills.
  • Good listening skills.
  • The ability to give clear explanations to parents.
  • Sensitivity and tact when giving advice.
  • The ability to write reports and keep accurate records.

Your Long Term Prospects

With experience you could become a senior portage worker with supervisory or management responsibilities.

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