Families ‘devastated’ after family service forced to shut

by Rebecca Ryan
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Families are said to be “devastated” after “vital community family support service,” Cottage Home Child & Family Service, has been forced to shut due to lack of financial support from the government.

The charity in Dun Laoghaire and Shankill opened in 2012 and has worked with over 120 families, 175 children and young people in need.

Dublin Gazette previously reported that they launched and funded the service themselves, at annual operational costs of up to €400,000, on the understanding that the Department of Health through the HSE would take over the operation of the service long-term.

The charity said, “lack of financial support from Minister for Children and Youth Affairs”, and “inaction by Head of Tusla” has forced them to issue redundancy notice to all staff.

Project Leader of the Family Support Service Shankill, Aisling Kelly, said families are devastated. 

“Since the closure was formally announced, the team and I have been trying to console and support numerous distraught parents and their children who feel that they are losing a vital source of support.”

A Family Support Service user, Mary (not her real name) said: “I don’t know what I am going to do without this place, I am a different person now and my kids are different people now from all you have done for us.”

Another user, Susan (not her real name) said: “The kids have come on a tremendous amount since spending time at the service and I have someone to rant to at the end of the phone. I’m ashamed to talk to my family about my child’s problems. I know I can ring up for advice and information. You are the only one my child relates to; they will really miss you.”

Don Briggs, Spokesperson for the Cottage Home Child & Family Service added: “It is totally unbelievable that the Minister and Tusla are allowing this important community service to close at a time when demand is increasing.

“The Minister indicated in 2018 that Tusla were going through an evaluation and commissioning process and that decisions regarding funding would be arrived at early 2019, in spite of multiple requests for confirmation it appears no decisions have been made.”

A spokesperson for the Department of Children and Youth Affairs told Dublin Gazette it has “never funded” the service and that during a commissioning process the agency decided there were other communities in the area in “greater need” for funding.

“Funding of family support services is informed by Tusla’s commissioning approach.

“As part of its commissioning process, Tusla completed a stakeholder event in Dublin South/ Dublin South East/Wicklow, and the Cottage Home was involved in this process. Requests for funding from the Cottage Home were considered in this context.

“Feedback on the Cottage Home service from Tusla staff was positive and there is a need for a family support service in this community. However, other communities in the area have been identified as being in greater need.  

“Tusla does not have a budget to offer the Cottage Home family support service at present. Tusla will continue to fund the Cottage Homes’ residential services.

“Tusla is committed to ensuring that no children and/or families in the local area will be adversely affected by the closing of the Cottage Home Family Support service,” said the spokesperson.

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