ISPCC Annual Report Launch Highlights Need for Government Action to Ensure Comprehensive 24-hour Social Work Services
The ISPCC’s annual report for 2016 published today highlights the statistics for its 24-hour listening service Childline and the excellent outcomes achieved for children through its childhood support and mentoring services.
In 2016 the number of calls, texts and online conversations answered by ISPCC Childline was 385,673 – over 1,000 calls per day from children all over Ireland. The vast majority of these calls (over 75 per cent) took place outside of office hours – when the State’s social work services are not available directly to children and many children have no-one else to call.
The report notes also the significant impact which the ISPCC’s services in communities have on children and families. All work with individual children and parents is evaluated in terms of not only the outcomes that were achieved as a result of intervention but also the level and nature of change that has occurred.
Of the children worked with in the childhood support services in 2016,
• 99% reported being satisfied with the service that they received.
• 97% of clients’ knowledge and understanding of their issue or current situation increased.
• 77% of clients had changed their behaviours and actions as a result of the intervention.
• 33% of clients’ level of change had a positive community-wide effect.
Key 2016 statistics for Childline include:
• The total number of conversations with Childline across all platforms was 405,255
• 385,673 contacts were by phone (95 per cent) and 19,582 were online and by text (five per cent).
• As in previous years, the majority of calls were from boys (71 per cent) while the majority of online and text contacts were from girls 72%
• The majority of calls were at the lower level of need with a small minority, less than one per cent categorised as Hardiker level 4 – requiring significant intervention. This equates to approximately six calls per day from children at high risk and in need of protection and support.
A key note address on the challenges of protecting the rights of children in Ireland was given at the AGM by Emily Logan, Chief Commissioner, Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission.
Interim CEO Caroline O’Sullivan said “Childline is a universal service – we are there for all children, and children call us for all kinds of reasons, from just wanting to talk about their day to needing help urgently. But after office hours we see a peak in the numbers of children who call us. This can be a time that children find themselves in situations where they feel unsafe, or need support.
“We know social workers tell children to call Childline out-of-hours– and we are happy that we are there to listen. Monday’s report commissioned by An Garda Siochana brings into sharp focus what the ISPCC have been highlighting for a number of years: there must be a comprehensive, needs-led, seamless, out of hours social work system. It is needed to supports parents and to supports and protects children – without this, we are failing today’s children and showing that Ireland has not learnt from past mistakes in the protection and welfare of children”.
“We are particularly pleased to have been able to increase the number of children we work with directly on a one-to-one basis for significant periods of six to twelve months in our child and family support and mentoring services. Some of these services are part-funded by Tusla and others, with the remaining funding coming from our fundraised income, and some of our mentoring services provided by our dedicated volunteers.
Volunteers are essential to the ISPCC and particularly to Childline. Over 62,000 hours of volunteer time were donated to our services in 2016, but we have had more difficulty recruiting volunteers in recent years. We continually seek new volunteers and provide excellent and comprehensive training.
In Childline, we are particularly pleased to have continued our success in engaging with boys. This bucks the trend internationally, and we believe is due to the open and accepting way that Childline operates, which is a crucial part of our training for our volunteers. Growth in demand for our online and text service is strong, and we have exciting plans to invest in our IT infrastructure over the coming year, to ensure that children can contact us in the way that suits them best.
The organisation thanked all those who have supported its work in 2016, and noted the essential nature of its ongoing fundraising efforts. Almost 80 per cent of the total funding of the ISPCC is raised through donations from individual and corporate partners.
“In 2016 we were fortunate to have a good year for fundraising; however, income generation remains a key challenge for the organisation. Work has commenced on building sustainable income which is a key goal for the ISPCC. The ongoing support of the public and corporate partners is essential, to allow us to be there for children, every day.”
The ISPCC noted in its report its commitment to best practice in governance. The organisation prepared its accounts in accordance with SORP, the statement of Recommended Practice for Charities, which is considered best practice for charity accounting and reporting.