In Light of A and B Report, Cutbacks to Frontline Services Make No Sense: Saving Childhood Group tell TDs

Published date: 
27 Oct 2010

Dublin, 28 October 2010 – The Saving Childhood group today warned Government and Opposition Parties that child protection and welfare services will be impacted by any further cuts to funding for public and voluntary services. The organisations highlighted the serious consequences many are seeing on the ground as a result of cuts to frontline services. In light of the A and B report published yesterday Barnardos, CARI, the Children’s Rights Alliance, the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre, the ISPCC, the Irish Association of Young People in Care, One in Four and Rape Crisis Network Ireland, called on Government to urgently resource and standardize struggling child protection services.

The group met with TDs today to highlight the fact that many of its member’s services were facing increasing demand while operating with decreasing resources. Given the publication of the report yesterday the group took the opportunity to again emphasise the urgency of holding a referendum on children’s rights that must include provisions for the voice of the child and the best interests of the child. A tandem approach of constitutional change and concrete change in practice on the ground is necessary to improve current supports to children at risk of abuse and neglect, they said.

Fergus Finlay, Barnardos’ CEO, said: “Given the obvious and well evidenced deficits in the system, it is short sighted and counter intuitive for any child protection and welfare services to suffer further cuts at this crucial moment. Yesterday’s report shows us all too clearly what happens when social workers are overstretched, under resourced and don’t have access to adequate supports. We are very concerned that frontline services both in the public and voluntary sectors will suffer further cuts in Budget 2011.”

Ashley Balbirnie, CEO of ISPCC, said of their services: “The ISPCC is struggling to maintain vital services to children in the current climate. Last year, Childline received over 800,000 calls. We were able to answer only 60% of these. In addition, text messages to Childline Online’s Teentxt service increased by a staggering 500% in 2009. This increase in demand coupled with fundraising difficulties in the current economic climate, has placed a strain on the ISPCC’s ongoing ability to provide services for all children who need it.”

The picture painted by Mr. Balbirnie was echoed by Maeve Lewis, CEO of One in Four: “We saw a significant rise in demand for our services following the publication of the Ryan and Murphy reports. While demand for our services doubled in 2009, our funding from the HSE decreased by 5% in 2009 and a further 5% in 2010. If we have another cut in 2011 we won’t be able to provide the same level of service that we currently do. We are extremely worried about the impact this will have on the victims of sexual abuse who need someone to support their recovery from the trauma they have experienced.”

The Saving Childhood group is calling on TDs and Government to prioritise and protect funding for frontline services in both the public and voluntary sector in Budget 2011, in recognition of the high level of needs being met by such services. The group also called for Government to move on holding the referendum on children’s rights as a matter of urgency.

Jillian van Turnhout, CEO of the Children’s Rights Alliance concluded: “At the end of the day, cutbacks now only delay spending that will eventually come back around, usually at a higher cost to the State. The need doesn’t disappear. Once situations for children in need reach crisis point, State services have to intervene and the solutions are usually much more complex and costly at that stage. Cutbacks now represent a tragedy for the individuals who rely on services and a false saving for the State. It doesn’t make sense.”

For further information, please contact:

Fergus Finlay, Barnardos: 087 624 0717/ 086 398 0441
Mary Flaherty, CARI: 087 958 2250
Jillian van Turnhout, Children’s Rights Alliance: 087 233 3784
Ellen O’Malley-Dunlop, Dublin Rape Crisis Centre: 086 809 9618
Ashley Balbirnie, ISPCC: 087 989 0620
Jennifer Gargan, the Irish Association of Young People in Care: 086 607 3866
Maeve Lewis, One in Four: 087 758 4080
Cliona Saidlear, Rape Crisis Network Ireland: 087 219 6447

Saving Childhood