Limerick-based charity faces immediate closure amid ‘inadequate’ funding

Members of CARI at an emergency press conference this week.

A LIMERICK-based charity faces immediate closure if its current funding shortfall is not made up.

CARI (Children At Risk Ireland), a national child sexual abuse agency, has said that it faces the risk of being immediately wound up if a funding shortfall isn’t addressed.

The emergency situation has developed following confirmation to the charity from Tusla this week that the body would only allocate a core budget of €337,000, just a fraction of the €1.1million operating costs CARI faces for 2024.

In a statement, CARI said that it does not get any funding from the HSE, and that the funding from Tusla is its only form of core funding to provide support services for victims of child sexual abuse and their families.

CARI claims its funding from Tusla has dropped by 55 per cent since 2021, when it received funding of €735,723.

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“We will have to begin the process of closing down this week, unless adequate funding is forthcoming now,” the statement from CARI urged.

In a response to queries from the Limerick Post, Tusla said it has offered CARI an additional once-off €250,000 payment to support CARI’s service model, but the Limerick-based charity says that this additional funding is contingent on its agreement to only receiving a core amount of €336,000 for 2024.

When asked about this, Tusla said they had no comment to make.

CARI is the only organisation outside Dublin providing long-term therapeutic supports to children affected by child sexual abuse and their families.

Its head office is based on the Ennis Road in Limerick, with a secondary office in Dublin.

Last year, CARI provided over 3,000 hours of support to more than 300 service users, with a further 322 people availing of CARI’s services this year alone, including 2,245 hours of support provided between January and October.

In a statement, CARI said that “inadequate” funding is already having a knock-on impact on services.

“The inadequate funding that CARI already receives means children languish on our waiting list for two to three years. With the huge reduction of our core funding from Tusla forcing our closure, the outcomes for these children would be disastrous.”

“Why are Ireland’s child victims of sexual abuse less worthy of support?” the CARI spokesperson asked.

In a statement to the Limerick Post, Tusla insisted that the core rate of funding given to CARI has not changed and that they have offered additional funding to support the charity for 2023.

“Over the last number of months, CARI have indicated that this funding allocation is inadequate to deliver their current service model. During this period Tusla has been in regular contact with the organisation regarding their financial situation and their current service model,” a Tusla spokesperson said.

“To further support CARI, an additional €250k once-off funding (from Tulsa’s pay saving measures) was agreed to alleviate current financial difficulties for 2023, and to provide CARI with the time they required to finalise their service model for 2024 in line with their allocated budget (core funding and local funding), as is required by all services commissioned by Tusla.”

“However, CARI have advised Tusla that they will be unable to operate within this budget for 2024 and has now notified us of their intention to cease operations,” the statement said.

However, Tusla refused to be drawn when asked to confirm whether this additional funding would only be given if CARI agreed to  receive just €336,000 next year.

Kate Duggan, Tusla CEO, added: “I absolutely recognise the valuable work undertaken by CARI, and we are fully committed to working with the organisation to ensure they can continue to provide services to the 50 children and their families they are currently working with. In recognition of their financial situation, we allocated an additional once off payment of €250,000 for 2023, to enable CARI to finalise a funded service model for 2024.”