A charity providing specialist care for children who have been sexually abused has seen their waiting list jump by almost 70% over the Covid-19 crisis.
CARI said the increase comes as social workers have less access to children because of restrictions imposed by the pandemic.
The voluntary body said while it continues to see children during the crisis, particularly those “unable to cope”, it is not able to take on any new children.
The group believes that new cases that happened during the lockdown have not yet come to light as normal supports, such as schools and clubs, have not been available to children and that when normality returns society will see the “true impact”.
“We had just under 100 children on our live waiting list before the Covid lockdown took place and as from today we have 167 children awaiting therapy,” said Eve Farrelly, executive director of CARI.
“It should be noted that this significant increase in children being referred to our services is happening at a time when social workers and mandated professionals have had restricted access to children,” she said. “The potential for the numbers to be much higher is there.”
Ms Farrelly said: “We have had children on our waiting list since 2018, this is a huge concern to CARI.”
She said it is crucial that children are able to access services when they need them, adding: “The children on our waiting list are coping with exceedingly difficult struggles as they continue to wait for therapeutic intervention. Therapeutic support can and does change the outcomes in a child’s life.”