Fears for vulnerable children

Vulnerable children could be at risk if the Queenstown Lakes Family Centre is forced to close by autumn due to lack of funding.

The centre in Frankton assisted more than 200 children and youth in the last year alone, but has found the gap between its expenses and income ever wider, despite a $10,000 injection from the inaugural Harcourts Charity Gala Quiz and Auction in late September.

The centre is the only service in the Wakatipu providing specialist services for children, adolescents and their families with mild to moderate mental health, behavioural and emotional issues.

Although the only service provider of its type in the Wakatipu, only a small part of its operating budget was government-funded. Less than 25% was funded by social services and none from health.

The centre as a charity continued to be affected by lower community fund returns with only a small part of the funds applied for this year being granted.

This financial situation is against a background of increasing demand on the core services, which exceed capacity, with waiting lists for most services last year.

One of the services at risk is the community clinics, now run in three primary schools and Happiness House.

Queenstown Primary School principal Lyn Bird said in a statement the community clinic project has been extremely successful since it started at Queenstown Primary in 2011.

Many children were seen through the service and there was a waiting list.

''Having an on-site social worker is a huge asset to the school, students and the community,'' Dr Bird said.

''If this service ceased to exist, there would be a large gap in accessing services for vulnerable children.

''Alongside this, the impact on the children currently receiving services would be detrimental.''

Centre staff support children in making new friends, excessive worrying, shyness, new experiences, frequent tearfulness, clinginess and group situations and support families with grief and loss, their feeling overwhelmed with parenting, sibling rivalry, sleep-deprivation, preparing children for parental separation or divorce, feelings of anger and blended families.

The centre provided clinical services to an average of 280 families each year since opening its doors seven years ago. It provided information and advice to a further 200 people per year.

There have been 6315 visits and counting to the its website since it was launched in March 2011.

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