A charity supporting children who have been sexually abused is seeking urgent government funding after seeing its waiting list double, which could take up to five years to clear.
he appeal was launched by Children at Risk in Ireland (CARI) and comes as it experiences the longest waiting list in its 33-year history.
He warned that the charity must fund and staff his service for 254 children who are waiting for his therapy, support and advice.
Colm O’Brien, chief executive, said: ‘Covid has forced us all to stay home for long periods of time, but unfortunately home is not a safe place for some children and young people, and we have seen some the devastating impact on demand for our services over the past two years.
“Our waiting list has more than doubled in 2020 alone – from 92 to 198 – and we now have 254 children waiting to access vital services.
“While every case and every family is different, it usually takes a family a year to go through our therapy process, and so it will take us five years to clear the list and that doesn’t take into account new referrals made every week.
“It is not acceptable to us that children and families who have had the courage to break their silence and take that first step to seek help are forced to wait to begin healing from their trauma.
“We have a clear vision for children and families experiencing child sexual abuse in Ireland, and we are confident that our service delivery model is working.
“So we designed the physical capacity to see around 52 families a year at our two centers in Limerick and Dublin, which would allow us to clear our waiting list in two years.”
But he said adequate financial support is essential to allow them to increase resources, eliminate waiting lists and “support even more children and families to ensure that no child remain pending”.
He added: “Our ultimate vision is to be able to treat children and families as they come to us, but right now the urgency is to secure the funding to meet the needs of people. on our existing waiting list.
“The trauma experienced by survivors of child sexual abuse can lead to depression, self-harm, suicidal ideation, substance abuse and relationship difficulties.
“Without access to appropriate therapy and services at an early stage, there is a substantial financial and emotional cost to the individual and to the state at a later stage.”
It currently receives funds from Tusla as well as community and corporate fundraisers to provide basic services. Fundraising cannot fill the “gaping hole” left by a lack of government support, CARI said.
Mr. O Brien stressed that he needed financial support now.