Cope Foundation boss: Funding shortfall has led to unprecedented delays for families desperately seeking help

Cope Foundation boss: Funding shortfall has led to unprecedented delays for families desperately seeking help
Sean Abbott, Chief Excutive, Cope Foundation, Cork.Picture: Denis Scannell

THE Cope Foundation, one of the largest providers of services to people with intellectual disabilities and autism in Ireland, is short €34m a year in funding to meet the rapidly growing demand for its service.

People with intellectual disabilities or autism are facing huge delays in getting assessments and supports from the Cork charity.

Cope Foundation supports more than 2,500 children and adults, offering services through a network of 69 locations all over Cork city and county.

It requires a significant increase in funding to meet increased demand, which is leaving hundreds of people facing lengthy delays to access vital services.

The foundation revealed that there are 400 children waiting assessment for autism spectrum disorder.

Of those who have been assessed, there are more 1,350 children awaiting specialist intervention and some have been waiting for years.

Of the adults requiring support, there are 174 on a residential waiting list, with many having nowhere to call their permanent home.

There are also 649 adults identified as having “changing needs”, who require further intervention and support.

Sean Abbott, chief executive of Cope Foundation, said: “In the 30 years that I have worked with Cope Foundation, I have never experienced delays this bad.

“It’s disheartening both for myself, and my colleagues across the foundation, when we have to consistently say no to families who are desperately seeking help. As waiting lists lengthen, we face the very real possibility that children who need support for ASD will age-out of the system and become adults without having received the appropriate intervention and support.

“Equally, we have people whom we support who are couch-surfing between family members as they have nowhere to live on a permanent basis.

“For each of these statistics, there are immeasurable challenges facing these individuals and their families.”

A detailed comprehensive service review, designed to examine the requirements of Cope Foundation up until 2023, has been completed and presented to the HSE, identifying a number of key areas where significant investment is required.

The foundation has identified the need for an additional investment of €34m per year between now and 2023.

Given the scale of the challenge, the charity is also looking to dramatically increase funding from both corporate donors and the general public.

“The people of Cork have been
incredibly generous in their support of Cope Foundation since its inception in 1957,” said Mr Abbott.

“However, there has never been a time when that support has been needed more.

“In the months ahead, we will be undertaking a significant awareness campaign of the challenges facing Cope, and outlining ways that people and
businesses can help.”

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