The Portage Project
Three main points support the mission of the Portage Project. First, it is committed to creating and enhancing the quality of educational programs. Second, its goal is to develop and distribute materials that are used to support quality early childhood programs. Third, all programs are centered and guided by the children and their families (Herwig, 1995).
The Portage model proposes that parent or primary caregiver interaction is essential to successful early intervention. It also states that the home or other least restrictive environments are natural and significant learning environments. The Portage model adds that intervention objectives and strategies must be individualized for each child and family based on their resources, priorities and concerns. This model further emphasizes that data collection is important to reinforce positive changes and to make ongoing intervention decisions (Sampon & Wollenburg, 1998).
The Portage Project was created 32 years ago in Portage, Wisconsin, in response to the need to provide services in rural communities to young children with disabilities. It was first funded by the Bureau of Education for the Handicapped (B.E.H). Portage is known for early intervention and development of intervention systems in the community. Its success relies heavily on parental involvement. This requires the enhancement of the development of young children with disabilities. All parents need to first understand that development of the child occurs sequentially in nature. Secondly, they must believe that the child's development can be influenced and impacted by their efforts. A final assumption that needs to be met if family involvement is to be implemented is parental acceptance of their role in actively facilitating their child's development (Simeonsson, 1991).
The specific components of the original Portage Model included child assessment using formal standardized tools and informal curriculum assessment. Using this assessment information, the home teacher and parent target skills and behaviors to be taught. Typically, about four specific behaviors are selected during each weekly home visit.
If a family suspects their child may have a disability, they are usually referred to a program that uses the Portage model. The parents bring the child to the location for assessment. If the association determines that the child has an intellectual disability, it will recommend the family use the Portage kit. The Portage kit includes an Activity Card File that consists of 580 developmentally sequenced behaviors from birth to age six in five areas: Socialization, Self-Help, Language, Cognition, and Motor Skills (Bluma, Shearer, Frohman, & Hilliard, 1976). The parents are taught how to use the cards to advance their child's development. The activity cards and guidelines are designed to use play and daily routines to support the child's development and to incorporate...