It is only in the coming months that the true impact of the Covid-19 crisis on vulnerable children and disadvantaged families will start to emerge, Barnardos has warned.
The children's charity has described as “extremely worrying” the decrease in the number of new referrals from teachers and other community-based organisations.
Barnardos' chief executive, Suzanne Connolly, said vulnerable children would have been exposed to situations behind closed doors that they were not yet aware of.
“Without intervention and the required supports, these situations can have a long term negative impact on children,” said Ms Connolly.
Barnardos experienced an increase in families seeking support during the coronavirus pandemic but most of the families would have had a previous relationship with the charity.
“As we reopen our services this week we are excited to welcome back families and children, but there's no denying that we are also anxious and concerned about what lies ahead," said Ms Connolly.
It is only in the coming months that the true impact of Covid-19 on vulnerable children and disadvantaged children will start to emerge.
Reports from the charity's project workers suggest that children had suffered mentally in recent months.
Incidence of child to parent violence had increased and are believed to be the result of the emotional impact of enforced restriction.
Acrimonious separation issues have also been exacerbated with children exposed to traumatic scenes in the home and left living in pressurised, tense environments.
Ms Connolly said another area of concern was the increase in domestic violence.
“The virus has been a helpful tool for the perpetrators of domestic violence who have been given an opportunity to exert further control over their families.
“Our concern is that these children will be forgotten about. The need for Barnardos services is critical now more than ever.”