The Togher Family Centre has called on the Department of Justice to provide them with funding to help restart supervised visits for families referred through the courts.
The centre had to make the difficult decision to stop running its child contact services for such cases from today due to a lack of funding.
“We feel that the Department of Justice should provide us, with even a small amount of funding, because it’s certainly under their remit,” said Jackie Costelloe a social worker who specialises in family support.
“We’re very grateful to TUSLA for the funding we already get,” she added.
Ms Costelloe has worked at the centre since it was established five years ago.
The loss of the Togher Family service will make it increasingly different for parents to see their children, according to Ms Costelloe.
“We provide very affordable services and without us, some of the parents who might not be making a lot of money won’t be able to see their children,” she said.
“It’s left a lot of people in limbo.” The Centre will continue to support families who attend through non-court referrals and plan to seek funding to reinstate their court referral service, according to Ms Costelloe.
“If the Department (of Justice) said we had to send in a business plan we’d love to do that,” she said.
“But we don’t know who to talk to or where to go but we’re certainly ready to talk to anyone who wants to talk about it.” The Togher Family Centre was the only publicly funded service of its kind in the Rebel county.
They worked closely with 40 families and 56 children who were referred through the courts and a further 19 families through TUSLA.
“There are private organisations in the South West but they can be very expensive,” said Ms Costelloe.
“Some parents are living in emergency accommodation and hostels and genuinely can’t afford to see their children which is a terrible situation to be in.”