Lack of funding means Portage service could be axed

Town hall
Town hall

A service provided to youngsters with special needs in Luton could be under threat.

Luton Borough Council is consulting on the future of Portage, a home visiting educational team for pre-school children who have severe to profound special needs (12-16 months delay at the age of two, or 12-18 months delay at the age of three) and their families.

The service is at risk after March because of a lack of funding.

The team supports between 80 and 100 families and helps with early support and intervention.

It supports parents making decisions about the most suitable nursery for their child, and where appropriate, the team helps the child transition successfully into the chosen setting.

Portage also provides two weekly sessions for families with access to sensory rooms, swimming and expert advice. Practitioners and parents work together to support the child with specific targets designed to develop their child’s skills.

The Happy Days Children’s Charity, based in Luton says the move is a concern. The charity provides days out for children with additional needs and their families.

Rob Cox, fundraising and marketing manager, said: “At Happy Days Children’s Charity, we fully understand the stresses and strains on families looking after children with additional needs.

“Local disability support services play an important role in helping parents cope with these additional pressures, so any cuts to services that support parents and help the development is obviously a concern.”

Councillor Mahmood Hussain, portfolio holder for children and young people said: “We appreciate that no longer having the Portage service will reduce early help and support for children with significant disabilities and their families.

“With this in mind, it is important that parents and other stakeholders are able to provide us with feedback about the likely impact the withdrawal of this service and also about what is most valued about the Portage service and any other services that could support parents.”

To complete the survey which closes on February 16, visit: www.luton.gov.uk/currentconsultations.