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Friday 20 September 2019

Children's charity dealt with highest ever number of families last year

Barnardos’ Suzanne Connolly
Barnardos’ Suzanne Connolly

Gabija Gataveckaite

A children's charity dealt with a record number of almost 18,000 families last year.

Barnardo's dealt with a record high of 17,799 families last year in working with children on their developmental needs and guardians on their parenting skills.

This is the highest number of families for the charity on record and included 11,644 children, 4,196 parents or carers (including grandparents, aunts and uncles) and 1,959 cases of community based prevention.

Of the 11,644 children dealt with, 30pc were under the age of five, 49pc were between ages six and 12 and 21pc were between ages 12 and 18.

"Last year, we saw a 16pc increase in demand for our services and our waiting lists continue to grow year-on-year," said the charity's CEO Suzanne Connolly.

"Waiting lists for our services keep growing and the gap between the demand and the funding provided by the Government continues to widen," she added.

6,081 referrals to the charity saw that the most common reason for referral was poor parenting skills, of which there were 15.09pc cases. Children with behavioural needs were the cause of almost 12pc of referrals, being the second most common reason for children and their guardians being referred to the charity.

Just over 7pc of referrals were in relation to parental separation and 3.8pc related to domestic abuse.

Ms Connolly urged the government to allocate more funding in order to tackle the increasing demand of services.

The charity has reformed its strategy to focus on adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and their impact on children and their development.

"It is because of this we have decided to work in a trauma informed way, to help those affected by these adversities, to strengthen families and give children the best possible outcomes in life," she explained.

The ACEs seen most often are domestic abuse, followed by child neglect, child abuse, parental mental health, traumatic separation anbd bereavement as well as parental substance abuse.

"This new direction brings a holistic mind, body and heart approach to our work based on recent developments in the understanding of human development and how the brain works and builds on Barnardos’ approach to delivering essential services for some of the most vulnerable in our society,” added Ms Connolly.

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