Concerns for future of Shankill service for vulnerable children and families

by Rebecca Ryan

[vc_row][vc_column width=”2/3″][vc_column_text]The future for a service for vulnerable families is uncertain unless it can secure funding from the government.

Based in Shankill, The Cottage Home Child and Family Services is a voluntary child care organisation and has worked with more than 100 families and 150 children since it opened in 2012, which it said has kept children from going into State care.

It provides programmes such as counselling, play therapy, parenting programmes and advocacy.

The family support service has been self-funding for almost seven years but said their funds are running out and they will have to close in the coming months unless funding can be secured.

The service needs €400,000 a year to remain open. They said that residential care placement costs the State close to €200,000 per client per year and it “seems logical that funds should be found to retain the service.”

Richard Boyd Barrett T.D. tabled a question to Minister Katherine Zappone in the Dail chamber last Wednesday calling for the “relatively minor funds” be allocated.

The Minister indicated that Tusla were going through an evaluation and commissioning process and that decisions regarding funding would be arrived at early next year, but Deputy Boyd Barrett stressed that this gave no guarantees and might be too late for the Cottage Home.

A mother who uses the service, Christina, said she would be “devastated” if the service closed as it has supported her through “a very dark time” when she was unable to get services for her son (8) who has ADHD and other challenges.

“I was at the stage where I had nowhere to turn. I was suicidal. I really believed he would be better off without me, that he’d be taken into care and would get services then. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for this place.’’

Don Briggs, Cottage Homes Director and Spokesperson told Dublin Gazette the loss of the service would have a “detrimental” effect on the community.

“If the service closes, many have said it would be devastating for situations where they have kids with ADHD or they have problems at home.

“There’s a lot of single mums with large families that are finding it very difficult to cope and they see us as a place to come and get direction, help and support.”

Local councillor Hugh Lewis said: “In my experience the service is crucial to supporting children and families who are homeless. “There are currently over 200 children accessing emergency homeless accommodation in Dun Laoghaire Rathdown, it makes no sense socially or economically for the State not to fund the supports that are so desperately needed in the deepest housing crisis we have faced for decades.”

Green Party Representative for Killiney-Shankill Una Power said: “This weekend at his party’s Ard Fhéis, the Taoiseach stated that compassion is a key value of Fine Gael. If that is true, then providing the €400,000 per year funding needed to keep Cottage Home open should be an easy decision for his government.”

A spokesperson for the Department of Children and Youth Affairs told Dublin Gazette: “Tusla has advised that the requested funding is not available in the current year’s budget.

“Tusla has also advised that it is compiling a Commissioning Plan for the Dublin South East/ Wicklow area. The planning process will help inform any future spending in the area based on evidenced needs.

“Tusla has invited the Cottage Home to be involved in stakeholder consultations on the commissioning process early next year.”[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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