Abuse therapy group faces cutbacks

A CASH-STRAPPED national organisation providing therapy to sexually abused children may be forced to cut its services at a time when demand for them has never been greater.

Last year Children at Risk in Ireland (CARI) experienced a surge in demand for all of its services with almost 4,979 people contacting its helpline - a 55% increase in all therapy related calls.

CARI National Director Mary Flaherty said the organisation was now struggling to respond to the growing demand for its services.

Without a major cash injection CARI would have no option but to begin cutting its services in the autumn, she warned.

“We will try and put off making cuts in our services for as long as we can but if there is no turn around in the funding situation we will have to start cutting our services in the autumn.”

CARI’s 2002 annual report, to be launched later today will show that the organisation’s success is now threatening its survival.

CARI operates two full-time therapy centres in Dublin and Limerick and part-time satellite services in Cork, Tralee, Navan, Arklow and most recently in Galway.

“As more services refer families to all our centres this has put additional demands on our services and we are struggling to find the resources to respond to ever growing needs,” she said.

The organisation also provides a national helpline, crisis counselling, preventative education, training for professionals and a consultancy service. “All our services have grown dramatically in 2002 and continue to evolve,” she pointed out.

Ms Flaherty has just received the organisation’s accounts for the end of last month which showed no improvement in their cash situation and has forced them to draw seriously on their emergency reserves.

“Certainly in the first quarter of this year our expenditure has significantly exceeded income,” she pointed out.

All their fund-raising events were down this year and there were no increases in funding from the statutory authorities.

“We are mirroring the situation in the health boards with cost increases and having to take on additional staff. Unless we can tap into more resources we are facing cutbacks in services.”

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