Policy | Update from the Policy Desk

Valerie Maher, our Policy & Programmes Manager, writes about some of our recent policy work.

The One Family Policy Service has been focussed on pre Budget preparations over the past few weeks in advance of the Budget 2018 announcement tomorrow, Tuesday October 10th. We are anticipating the release of a report by Indecon Economic Consultants commissioned by Government to examine the impact of austerity measures on one-parent families which you can read more about in our recent press release.

We have written to a number of Government Ministers emphasising the need to take affirmative action in Budget 2018 to alleviate the disproportionate levels of poverty and deprivation being experienced by lone parents and calling on them to carefully consider the recommendations contained in our Pre-Budget Submission and a number of other key reports published over the past 12 months including the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Social Protection report in June on The Position of Lone Parents in Ireland; Maynooth University’s research on the barriers to education for lone parents published in August; and Lone Parents and Activation, What Works and Why: A Review of the International Evidence in the Irish Context, commissioned by the Department of Social Protection and conducted by Dr Michelle Millar and Dr Rosemary Crosse of the UNESCO Child & Family Research Centre in NUI Galway, published last September.

One Family has also made a number of important policy submissions during September. We made a submission to the Courts Service on their Strategic Plan 2017-2020, highlighting the challenges facing families accessing the private family law courts. We also had the opportunity to make a submission to the Law Reform Commission on possible areas of law to be considered for inclusion in the new Programme of Law Reform. We specifically addressed the issue of child maintenance, including its underpinning legal framework, and the impact of the current system on separated parents and their children. Our key recommendation is to establish a statutory Child Maintenance Service in Ireland – you can read the submission in full here.

Finally, we have made an informal submission  to the Department of Justice & Equality in relation to the work they are undertaking to regulate the ‘Child’s Views’ Experts as outlined in the Children & Family Relationships Act 2015. One Family are acutely aware of the challenges facing families accessing the private family law courts and the need to ensure that accurate representations of the experiences and wishes of children are captured.

One Family sits on the National Advisory Council on Children and Young People which was set up to ensure the implementation of Better Outcomes, Brighter Futures: The National Policy Framework for Children and Young People 2014-2020.  The third annual report of the National Advisory Council was recently published. One Family have worked closely with both statutory and non-governmental (NGO) representatives, to ensure that child poverty targets remain at the forefront of Government policy and decision making. Our contributions to a joint NGO submission on reducing child poverty has resulted in an increase in income disregards for lone parents in receipt of One-Parent Family Payment and Jobseeker’s Transition and we will continue to work with Government to ensure they meet their commitment to lift over 100,000 children out of poverty by 2020.