Sunday 23 April 2017

Grim future for children's charity as funding falls

Jack & Jill Foundation sends bleak Christmas message to parents as cash from HSE dries up

Jerome Reilly

Jerome Reilly

THE parents of dozens of children with severe neurological development problem are set to receive devastating news tomorrow about the care their children will receive next year.

Just two weeks before, the charity that provides vital daily help and respite care is in crisis because it has so far been unable to secure funding from the HSE.

In a letter which is being sent to parents this weekend, the founder of the Jack & Jill Foundation, Jonathan Irwin, compared the lack of funding for the charity with the €1.8m overpayment to lawyers at the Moriarty Tribunal.

Mr Irwin, who gave up a successful career in the bloodstock industry to run a charity, will tell the parents that the news "is not good" on funding for 2011.

In the letter, he says: "We have been unable to secure the €1.35m funding we require from the HSE for 2011, despite making a rock-solid economic argument on behalf of our families for 50 per cent State investment in Jack & Jill.

"While €1.35m might sound like a lot, it's not far off the €1.2m that Jack & Jill has already saved Irish schools over the last year through our Phones for Interactive Whiteboards campaign.

"Or consider what we could do with the €1.8m overpayment made to barristers at the Moriarty Tribunal who still receive a €500 overpayment every day due to a clerical error?

"Today, with the last of our reserves running out and our donations significantly down, the refusal of the HSE to give us more funding leaves us with no alternative but to cut our home nursing care and respite service by up to 30 per cent from January 1, 2011."

The letter adds: "The HSE has not refused our funding request directly, but we heard through a HSE statement to RTE this week that we will not be receiving the additional money we require, and that's that.

"To make matters worse, we have been led on a merry dance regarding the review of the disability budget undertaken by John Moloney, Minister for Equality, Disability and Mental Health, which he said would be finished by September 2010, but will not actually be completed until well into 2011.

"Even if there is a saving of 10 per cent, as expected by Mr Moloney on this €1.6bn disability budget, none of this money is coming to Jack & Jill any time soon and instead the HSE is earmarking any savings made for its own disability services plan. Why is the HSE so defensive when it comes to Jack & Jill?" Mr Irwin asks.

"We thought we had made progress on June 1, when we were told by Health Minister Mary Harney and her key adviser Ann Kennelly, National Lead for Disability Services with the HSE, that their priority was to review the cases of children over four years old on our books, and to urgently put in place new care plans under the HSE's budget.

"This review process has been slow and tedious and today we still support 24 children over four years of age while the HSE now says that it will not reimburse Jack & Jill in any way for our over-fours, even though it was to assume responsibility for them from June 1," he adds.

Sunday Independent

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