CHILDLINE is at breaking point, with donations drying up in the aftermath of controversies over charities.
Its flagship phone helpline for children in distress is at risk after a 20pc fall-off in donations, said Mary Nicholson, an advocacy manager at the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (ISPCC).
"The dilemma we're faced with is that we want to be there for children 24/7, but it's beginning to look like we might have to curtail the service," she said.
The ISPCC has not established a timeline for the changes to occur if fundraising continues to fall short, but it is certain that a 24-hour helpline is unsustainable at the moment.
It operates from 10 call centres nationwide and costs around €4m-a-year to run, with 90pc of this figure raised by the ISPCC.
Ms Nicholson said 24-hour availability is the most important aspect of the service.
"Children's challenges and family problems don't just come from nine to five," she said.
"We get calls at all hours of the day and night. The majority come at out-of-office times."
Childline receives 1,800 calls a day, but is able to answer only two-thirds of all calls made by distressed children and teens.
Depending so heavily on donations and fundraising has put the charity in a precarious position in the wake of controversies surrounding the Central Remedial Clinic and Rehab.
"The last few years have been challenging with the recession, but we had noticed a pick-up before the scandals and now they're down again," said Ms Nicholson.
"We are pleading with people to look beyond the things that have happened and to focus on the good work of charities."