One Family calls on parents to challenge GE candidates on child poverty, homelessness and family law reform.

One Family, Ireland’s national organisation for people parenting alone, sharing parenting and separating has called on parents to challenge General Election candidates on their plans to address homelessness, child poverty and reform of Ireland’s archaic family law system. The call comes following the launch of the organisation’s Election Manifesto and as the charity sets about mobilising the almost quarter of a million one-parent families in the state.

One Family CEO Karen Kiernan said, “Families living in makeshift accommodation and children going without a warm meal shouldn’t happen in Ireland. It’s not who we are. But every night thousands of children and families go without these basic needs, caught in a broken system that pulls them under. It doesn’t have to be this way. Poverty and homelessness are not inevitable. They are symptoms of a broken system.”

One-parent families now make up over a quarter of all families in Ireland. Yet many are struggling to stay afloat against a rising tide of poverty. These families represent a growing and restless force in every constituency in Ireland. They are disproportionately affected by child poverty, homelessness and a family law system that is decades behind our European neighbours. We are asking one-parent families to challenge, in a friendly yet firm manner, election candidates on their plans to address Child Poverty, Homelessness, Reform of Family Law and Constitutional change. Our four top priorities for General Election 2020 are:

  • End Child Poverty: Meet and expand on the current target to lift 70,000 children out of poverty by 2020. Develop another target and commit to a strong implementation system with high level political support. Ensure adequate income levels for all families and households through independent benchmarking of income supports.
  • End Homelessness: Ireland has a national crisis of homelessness which disproportionately affects one-parent families. Commit to prioritising the building of social housing for families and ensuring that children do not spend longer than six months in emergency accommodation.
  • Reform Family Law & Court Welfare Service: Build on family law reforms and commit to developing a comprehensive public Court Welfare Service including a statutory Child Maintenance Service. Ireland is decades behind our European neighbours and must ensure the safety of children and parents in family law proceedings.
  • Protect All Families in Ireland: Commit to a referendum to update Article 41.3 of the Constitution to extend rights and protection to all families.

Read our Election Manifesto here:

Ms Kiernan added, “We know the issues that are raised on the doors are fed back to party headquarters and are included in future Programmes for Government so we are asking parents to let their voice be heard. We have put together a list of questions that might help parents to start the conversation with the local candidates so they can make up their own minds on who to vote for.”

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Editor’s Note:

One Family was founded in 1972 as Cherish and is Ireland’s national organisation for one-parent families and people sharing parenting or separating, offering support, information and services to all members of all one-parent families, to those sharing parenting, to those experiencing an unplanned pregnancy and to professionals working with one-parent families. Children are at the centre of One Family’s work and the organisation helps all the adults in their lives, including mums, dads, grandparents, step-parents, new partners and other siblings, offering a holistic model of specialist family support services. These services include the lo-call askonefamily national helpline on 1890 66 22 12, counselling, and provision of training courses for parents and for professionals. One Family also promotes Family Day and presents the Family Day Festival every May, an annual celebration of the diversity of families in Ireland today (www.familyday.ie). For further information, visit www.onefamily.ie. The askonefamily helpline can be contacted on lo-call 1890 66 22 12.

For further information visit: www.onefamily.ie

 

Available for Interview

Karen Kiernan, CEO | t: 01 662 9212 or 086 850 9191

 

Further Information/Scheduling

Noel Sweeney, Communications and Events Manager | t: 01 622 9212 or 085 7241294

Telling your child – We are Separating

For a parent the thought of telling your children that you and their other parent are separating is incredibly hard to imagine not alone do.  It is however crucially important that parents talk with their children as soon as possible once a decision to separate has been made. Very young children from two years of age need parents to sit with them and help them to understand that the family form is about to change.  They need support and to be told how much they are loved. and will try to ensure moving forward that they will remain central to every decision their parents make.

Telling children 2-4 years old

If you have decided to separate and you are still in the same home but living separately or one parent is about to move out it is time to tell your child. Children are very observant and as much as you might think they do not notice that things have changed, they do. Children will be the first to notice and feel that something is different and they need your support to understand what this change is so they are not left feeling worried, anxious, scared and upset trying to figure out a feeling or a sense they have that is beyond their capacity to understand in so many ways.

Here are some helpful tips:

  1. Sit with them as you play dolls or imaginative play and create two houses, two tents to play in. Introduce the concept of Mummy in one house and Daddy in the other house and then play a game of the child coming to spend time in each house. Help them to build the tent, what it looks like, what they would have in each tent to make it nice and safe, and a place they would like to be. What would Mummy need in her tent and Daddy in his tent? When the tents are built, talk with your child about what it would be like if there really were two tents, like two houses and that one parent was going to live in a new house, just like the tent and it would be safe and secure and the child would be part of that new house/tent. Hear what your child has to say. Gently explore what they come up with.
  2. Children will have many practical concerns at this age about living in two homes around toys, belongings etc. Remember children at this age are still very egocentric and life is all about them and their needs. Talk with them gently about how you might be able to meet those concerns for them.
  3. Allow the conversation to continue by using story books and art work. Draw images of family and home as you know it now and then again introduce two homes and what would they look like.
  4. Tell your child clearly that Mummy and Daddy are going to live in two separate houses and build on this depending on how much capacity your child has to understand. Start with the truth and go from there.

Helping your child have the space to explore the practical change that separation would bring is key at this age. The conversation will need to go on after it is initiated and the children encouraged to play the game over and over so they can process how this might all work for them. Playing this game with your young child will help you as a parent to understand what their needs are, what they are worried about and what you as their parent need to do in order to support them through this major family life change.

Telling your children aged 5- 9 years old

Children of this age are a little wiser to the world. They are in school and they understand more clearly that children all have parents or carers. They will at this stage have a long enough history of living with both of their parents to really value what that offers to them. Children of this age notice everything and are sensitive to change. In their own lives they are managing so much in school as they engage with the community there, with extracurricular activities and the larger community. Introducing a family change can be very hard for them as they feel it emotionally more so than their younger counter parts as they are starting to understand emotions and how they feel and they can in many ways express it more clearly to us as parents.

 

Some helpful tips:

  1. At this age group it is best for both parents to sit the children down together and tell them, for example, ‘Mummy and Daddy no longer want to live in the same house. You may have noticed we fight more than we should and we don’t think this is the best way for our family to be. We have decided that we are going to have two homes and live separately where you will live with us.’ It is really important to be clear with the children, do not leave them confused in the message you give to them.
  2. Be very clear and direct with this age group, do not tell them false truths and do not blame one parent for the separation. Children love parents equally regardless of what either of you might do, they are loyal to both parents, so do not ask them to take sides, as in the long run you will create emotional turmoil for them. The issues of why the separation happened are for you as parents to figure out; it is your intimate relationship. What is necessary is that you accept that you are both parents of your young children and you are both going to move forward allowing each other to take a very active role in parenting and continuing to parent your child.
  3. Allow your child to ask you questions. They may be shocked, as much as you might think they noticed something was changing, they will still be saddened to hear you say the change is going to actually happen.
  4. Talk with your child about how two homes is going to happen. Do not allow them to witness a situation where one parent packs and says goodbye, this is heartbreaking for children to see a parent walk out the door, the sense of abandonment and hurt can be felt for many years.
  5. Plan with your child, as much as you may not want to, around the next steps. Allow them be involved in making the changes as this will support them to understand it more clearly. By understanding what is happening they will develop the language to talk about it with you and with others.
  6. Support children to know the separation is not a secret. They can tell their close friends if they wish to  and talk to relatives about it. As parents it is really important to tell the school. Schools will notice a change in your child and they need to understand the background. This will also allow the school to be more sensitive to the issue in class work and activities.
  7. Create plenty of opportunity for your child to talk about what is happening. Do not try to justify the changes or fix them. Just listen and tell your children you are happy they can talk about what worries them with you. As two parents separating you need to take this on board when arranging a shared parenting agreement, keeping your child central to the decisions you make going forward.
  8. On the day you share this news with your child, try to ensure both parents can be around for them for the remainder of the day. Do something nurturing with them, reading a story, bath time, art work. Allow them time to go away and play and to find you again for more questions or a cuddle. Children will need a lot of reassurance that both parents still love them and will be there for them.

Children aged 10- 14 years

Children of this age can be very mature and portray an image that they can cope with a lot more than their age would suggest. However when it comes to matters of the heart, they are still children and will need a lot of support to understand and cope with family separation. At this age children are at a critical stage of change in their own development so adding a family change can bring great turmoil for them. This age group are very concerned with what others think and know about them. They will fear bullying, whispering and others talking about their family.

Children of this age could be acutely aware that the parental relationship was not working well, that there was conflict or unhappiness; however they may also have no other experience of family life so accept this is family life. They may be relieved that the conflict will end with the separation if the parents can manage to agree how to share parenting and move forward, unfortunately many parents do not stop the conflict at separation. Children can become very confused as to the benefit of the separation for anyone.

Some helpful tips:

  1. Both parents sit down with your children and tell them very clearly that you have decided to separate and will no longer continue to live in the same home. Children may walk away when you tell them this, overwhelmed with emotion and unable to talk or ask questions. It is important for parents to be available to them for the remainder of the day.
  2. Allow your children to ask questions, many will be about their own needs and just hear this. Children will worry about change and who will notice the change. They will usually be well connected into the greater community at this age so will worry about getting to activities and the costs involved. They will worry about where everyone will live and how big the changes are going to be.
  3. At this stage it is important as two parents to reassure your children you are going to work with each other to find the best solutions to all of these worries as you both love your children and want the best for them. Try not to make promises at this time until you have both talked and agreed what the plan will be.
  4. Children of this age will want to have a clear voice in what happens after separation and it is vitally important to listen to this. If a partner is not a good partner they may be the best parent and remember your child only has two parents and loves you both equally.  They do not need to know what happened or be involved in the intimacy of what happened in the relationship. The relationship they have with you as their parent is very separate to the one you have with their other parent. Children will however want to know their can be agreements reached and harmony.
  5. Plan with your children how the two homes will be created and how and when one parent will leave. Children will remember this event for life so try to ensure you are not adding to the grief they will feel by the way you carry this out. As much as you may resent the other parent, remember if you have decided to separate it is now about the business of sharing parenting and putting the children first.

For all parents regardless of child’s age:

  • Always be honest with children in an age appropriate way. Build on the truth.
  • Children are only interested in your relationship with them and how the separation will impact that.
  • Do not tell children one parent is to blame for the separation. Two people form a relationship and at the time of separation a lot of support may be required by both parents to help them explore and  understand what went wrong in their relationship. Children cannot be caught in the middle of this.
  • Stop the conflict. If conflict formed a serious part of life leading up to the separation you need to seek professional support around how to learn to communicate more effectively with each other. Children do not suffer negatively because of family separation but they do with prolonged chronic parental conflict.
  • Ensure there is no gap in your child seeing the other parent, the parent who leaves the family home. Children need constant reassurance at this stage that both parents are there for them and they need to see each parent to know they are okay.
  • Look after yourself as you will need a vast amount of energy moving forward to build a positive parenting relationship with the other parent that will support your children moving forward positively.
  • Be open to creating a shared parenting plan that works for your children. Try not to listen to what others have done or what you think the norm is. Every family is unique and  therefore the shared parenting plan should be unique to your family, ensuring your child’s needs are met within it. All plans will need to be adjusted over time as children grow and life changes and this should be expected and supported.

The article was writing by our Director of Parenting Services Geraldine Kelly. If you need support on separation,  parenting through separation and sharing parenting contact One Family parenting supports at 01-662 9212 or email: info@onefamily.ie  For confidential information and listening support call the askonefamily helpline on lo-call: 1890 662 212

One Family’s Election Manifesto 2020

One Family’s Election Manifesto 2020

Families living in makeshift accommodation and children going without a warm meal shouldn’t happen in Ireland. It’s not who we are. But every night thousands of children and families go without these basic needs, caught in a broken system that pulls them under. It doesn’t have to be this way. Poverty and homelessness are not inevitable. They are symptoms of a broken system.

One-parent families now make up over a quarter of all families in Ireland. Yet many are struggling to stay afloat against a rising tide of poverty. These families are three and a half times as likely to be at risk of poverty as two-parent households (CSO – SILC 2018).  In our Election Manifesto we give our Top Four Election Priorities click here for a copy of the manifesto:

  • End Child Poverty: Meet and expand on the current target to lift 100,000 children out of poverty by 2020. Develop another target and commit to a strong implementation system with high level political support. Ensure adequate income levels for all families and households through independent benchmarking of income supports.
  • Reform Family Law & Court Welfare Service: Build on family law reforms and commit to developing a comprehensive public Court Welfare Service including a statutory Child Maintenance Service. Ireland is decades behind our European neighbours and must ensure the safety of children and parents in family law proceedings.
  • Protect All Families in Ireland: Commit to a referendum to update Article 41.3 of the Constitution to extend rights and protection to all families.
  • End Homelessness: Ireland has a national crisis of homelessness which disproportionately affects one-parent families. Commit to prioritising the building of social housing for families and ensuring that children do not spend longer than 6 months in emergency accommodation.

[1] List of research at One Family Budget 2020 submission. https://onefamily.ie/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/Budget-2020_One-Family-Pre-Budget-Submission-2020.pdf

Analysis of the Survey on Income and Living Conditions (SILC) 2018 results (released November 2019)

The latest Survey on Income and Living Conditions (SILC) report published on 28 November 2019 shows that lone parent families continue to be the poorest families with children in this State. They endure the highest rates of all types of poverty for families (‘at risk’, ‘deprivation’ and ‘consistent’ poverty).

While One Family welcomes the drop in rates since last year, the ‘at risk’ and ‘consistent’ poverty rate drops are not statistically significant and continue to keep one-parent families trapped in poverty.

Numerous Government and independently commissioned reports have identified the issues and offered similar conclusions – lone parents need targeted supports to help them and their children out of poverty.  While we welcome measures in Budget 2020 that offered supports to working lone parents more needs to be done.

Creating a child-centred response to poverty, which includes full recognition of diverse family forms, will stop the extreme inequality between different types of families in Irish society, as we outline in our Pre-Budget submission 2020.

At risk of poverty rates for lone parents

  • In 2018, households with one adult and children aged under 18 have the highest at risk of poverty rate at 33.5%. This rate is 9.9% for households with two adults with 1-3 children aged under 18. Lone parents are three and a half times as likely to be at risk of poverty as two-parent households.

Definition of At Risk of Poverty: Households with incomes below 60% of the national median income of €264 per week / €13, 723 per annum are at risk of poverty.

Deprivation rates for lone parents

  • In 2018, households with one adult and children aged under 18 had the highest deprivation rate at 42.7%. This rate is 14.3% for households with two adults with 1-3 children aged under 18. Lone parent families are almost three as likely to be living in enforced deprivation as two-parent families.
  • People in lone parent households continue to have the lowest disposable income out of all households with children in the State.

Lone parents continue to struggle to meet living costs for themselves and their children every day. Housing, food, heating and clothing costs continue to put lone-parents under considerable stress, with the costs of schooling adding to this burden. Ireland is not a poor country and government needs to introduce targeted supports for one-parent families. Government commitments through the Better Outcomes, Brighter Futures strategy to lift 100,000 children out of poverty by 2020 must be met if these trends are to be reversed in a stable and consistent manner.

Definition of Deprivation: Households that are systematically financially marginalised from availing of the goods and services considered the norm for most people in society are considered to be enduring ‘deprivation’.   Deprivation is the inability to afford at least two of the eleven basic deprivation indicators outlined below. Furthermore, experiencing two or more of these indicators, for example, going without a substantial meal for  24 hours and being cold because it is too expensive to heat a home, creates ‘enforced deprivation’ for many lone-parent households.

  1. Two pairs of strong shoes
  2. A warm waterproof overcoat
  3. Buy new (not second-hand) clothes
  4. Eat meal with meat, chicken, fish (or vegetarian equivalent) every second day
  5. Have a roast joint or its equivalent once a week
  6. Had to go without heating during the last year through lack of money
  7. Keep the home adequately warm
  8. Buy presents for family or friends at least once a year
  9. Replace any worn out furniture
  10. Have family or friends for a drink or meal once a month
  11. Have a morning, afternoon or evening out in the last fortnight for entertainment

Consistent poverty rates for lone parents

  • In 2018, households with one adult with children aged under 18 continue to have the highest consistent poverty rate at 19.2%. This rate is 5.0% for households with two adults with 1-3 children aged under 18. Lone parents are almost four times as likely to be living in consistent poverty as two-parent households.

Definition of Consistent Poverty:  Households living with incomes below 60% of the national median income of €240 per week, and experiencing deprivation based on the 11 deprivation indicators outlined above, are living in consistent poverty.

How Poverty Traps:

Time plays a role in poverty. We know that the longer any lone-parent family is exposed to an ‘at risk of poverty’ category, the more likely they are to start experiencing enforced deprivation. These two types of poverty combined then force lone parent families into ‘consistent poverty’.  Consistent poverty is living in a poverty trap, where the daily and weekly living is nearly always living ‘on the back foot’, never able to plan head, participate in social life easily, and are usually always in some type of debt. (See EAPN for further poverty analyses: https://www.eapn.ie/poverty/understanding-poverty/)

Read our Press Release on the SILC results:

One-parent families remain the most consistently poor families with children in this state

[Dublin, Thursday 28 November] The latest Survey on Income and Living Conditions (SILC 2018) results  show that one-parent families are now four times as likely than two-parent households to live in consistent poverty. While One Family welcomes the drop in both ‘at risk’ and ‘deprivation’ poverty rates since last year, ‘consistent’ poverty rate drops are not statistically significant at 1.5%,  and continue to keep one-parent families locked in poverty.

Karen Kiernan, One Family CEO, says. “Hidden behind these figures are parents struggling to put food on the table and clothes on children’s backs, keeping them in school. The SILC report reflects what we are hearing daily through our helpline and through our family support services. Parents and children are being crushed by poverty. While there were some welcome measures in Budget 2020 the consistent poverty rate remains too high. Repeated Government  and independently commissioned reports have set out what needs to be done so now Government just need to act.”

Valerie Maher, One Family Policy & Programmes Manager, says: “Lone parents continue to struggle to meet the most basic costs of living including housing, food, heating and clothes. This is unacceptable and should not be normalised. While we welcome the drop in enforced deprivation rates, we note that consistent poverty remains a core problem. This needs an whole-of-Government response to be reversed. Government need to do more if it’s to meet its own target of lifting 100,000 children out of poverty by 2020.

In 2018, individuals living in households where there was one adult with children aged under 18 continue to have the highest consistent poverty rate at 19.2% or nearly a fifth of all one-parent families. This is compared to a consistent poverty rate of 5% for two-parent households. We know the causes of poverty in one-parent families largely arise from structural inequality. Government know the resolution to this problem is to develop these structural supports and they now need to act.

One-in-four families in Ireland is a one-parent family. Research shows that a key contributor to children’s futures is not the structure of their families but living in consistent poverty.

/Ends.

About One Family

One Family was founded in 1972 as Cherish. It is Ireland’s organisation for one-parent families and people sharing parenting, or separating, offering support, information and services to all members of all one-parent families, to those sharing parenting, to those experiencing an unplanned pregnancy and to professionals working with one-parent families. Children are at the centre of One Family’s work and the organisation helps all the adults in their lives, including mums, dads, grandparents, step-parents, new partners and other siblings, offering a holistic model of specialist family support services.

These services include the lo-call askonefamily national helpline on 1890 662212, counselling, and provision of training courses for parents and for professionals. One Family also promotes Family Day every May, an annual celebration of the diversity of families in Ireland today (www.familyday.ie).

For further information, visit www.onefamily.ie.

Link to SILC 2018

Link to One Family Pre-Budget Submission

Available for Interview

Karen Kiernan, CEO | t: 01 662 9212 or 086 850 9191

Further Information/Scheduling

Noel Sweeney, Communications and Events Manager | t: 01 622 9212 or 085 7241294

Some positive moves to be welcomed but this falls short of the required Children’s Budget

Wednesday 9 October 2019

One Family welcomes the targeted measures in Budget 2020 for working lone parents and the commitment to fund research into child maintenance. Specifically, we welcome the targeted increases to help make work pay for lone parents and that restore payments to the ‘pre-cuts’ 2012 levels. These are: an increase of €15 in income disregards for the One-Parent Family Payment (OFP) and Jobseekers Transition Allowance (JST); an increase of €10 to the income threshold for the Working Family Payment for families with up to 3 children; and increases in the Qualified Child Increase (QCI) by €3 for over 12s and €2 for under 12s.

Karen Kiernan, CEO of One Family, said “We are pleased that Government has been listening to us and our colleagues over the past year and have implemented some of the specific and targeted measures that we looked for. However they did not deliver a Children’s Budget to support Ireland’s poorest children out of their daily poverty and they did not use the evidence available to them when making all decisions.”

One Family notes there are still inequalities in how one-parent families are treated in the social welfare code when compared to two-parent families and these issues need to be resolved as a matter of urgency. Kiernan continued: “we know the vast majority of Ireland’s poorest children live in one-parent families therefore we must target supports at them. Unnecessary barriers need to be urgently removed to ensure that lone parents are treated fairly particularly in relation to eligibility requirements for the Working Family Payment and the Back to School Clothing & Footwear Allowance. It is just not right to let children’s lives be restricted by poverty”.

Kiernan welcomed the commitment to the establishment of a statutory Child Maintenance Agency saying: “We are pleased that Minister Doherty has committed €150,000 to research this important issue. We hope this will include robust stakeholder engagement and feed into existing evidence and work on child maintenance.”

Kiernan also welcomed the fact that Minister Zappone listened to the concerns about lone parents at risk of losing out in the new National Childcare Scheme saying: “It is reassuring that lone parents can now stay on existing subsidies until August 2021 if this is helpful to them. An additional five hours per week for those on income-based subsidies is also something we looked for and have received.”

But we continue to have deep concerns about the impact of the Budget on the most vulnerable children. If we enter into a No Deal Brexit, which seems the most likely scenario, these families, who are already held back through poverty, will slip further behind. Brexit may well be an economic tsunami for them – particularly those families in rural Ireland where the economic impact of a No Deal may be most felt. Increases to carbon tax and knock-on effects on fuel and energy use are a real issue and will push the vulnerable into further poverty.

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For further information, visit www.onefamily.ie.

Link to One Family Pre-Budget Submission:

Link to One Family Child Maintenance Paper:

Link to One Family Budget Comparison document:

Available for Interview

Karen Kiernan, CEO | t: 01 662 9212 or 086 850 9191

Further Information/Scheduling

Noel Sweeney, Communications and Events Manager | t: 01 622 9212 or 085 7241294

‘First responder shouldn’t be a solicitor’ – Support services for separating families urgently needed across Ireland

[Monday, September 16, 2019] One Family, Ireland’s organisation for people parenting alone, sharing parenting and separating has called for the urgent rollout of specialist support services for families who are going through the long process of separating. The call comes as the charity launched its Annual Review for 2018 which has seen an 82% increase in demand for its services compared with 2017.

One Family CEO Karen Kiernan said, “Since 2017, there has been an 82% increase in requests for our services with a large spike in demand for services for families separating. Services such as our Tusla-funded, Separating Well for Children project show the depth of demand that exists from people going through the private family law system and similar services are urgently required nationwide. Through this project we have found ourselves frequently bridging gaps in services that exist for vulnerable separated parents and their children. This project deescalates the conflict within the family using mediation, parenting support as well as creative therapies for children, allowing parents to put aside their own grievances and focus on the welfare of their children.When families separate the first responder shouldn’t be a solicitor – instead child-focussed, affordable supports should be available locally”.

Ms. Kiernan added, “In 2018, we delivered over 8,430 intensive in-person supports, while our askonefamily helpline received over 4,000 queries, we would urge anyone who needs advice when separating to call our helpline on lo-call 1890 662 212. Demand for our services has never been higher partly due to the increased number of people parenting alone, sharing parenting and separating. But it also reflects the poverty rates amongst lone parents who, because of spiralling homelessness and deprivation rates, are relying more and more on our services. We anticipate that demand for our services will increase in the years ahead and the Government must now look to urgently fund specialised support services for separated families in crisis throughout the country.”

/Ends.

Notes to editor:

About One Family One Family was founded in 1972 as Cherish and is Ireland’s organisation for one-parent families and people sharingparenting, or separating.

Key statistics from the One Family’s Annual Review 2018:

  • 82% increase in service delivery from 2017.
  • 8,430 intensive in-person supports.
  • 11 policy submissions over 65 policy representations.
  • Nearly 4,100 queries received through the Askonefamily helpline.
  • 29% of queries related to family life and parenting.
  • 1,841 counselling sessions were delivered an increase of 49% on 2017.
  • Over 1,000 parenting services delivered.
  • 40% of parenting participants were Dads.

Statistics on one-parent families:

  • 1 in 5 people in Ireland live in a one-parent family (Census 2016)
  • 1 in 4 families with children in Ireland is a one-parent family (Census 2016)
  • There were 218,817 (25.4%) family units with children (of any age) headed by a lone parent. This is an increase of over 3,500 families since 2011. Almost 90,000 were single; a further 50,496 were widowed while the remaining 68,378 were separated or divorced.
  • This represented approximately one in four of families with children and one in five of all families (25.4% of all family units with children in Ireland and 18% of all family units).
  • 356,203 children lived in one parent families, representing more than one in five or 21.2% of all children in family units.
  • The total number of divorced people in Ireland has increased from 87,770 in 2011 to 103,895 in 2016.This is an increase of over 44,000 people in the last ten years.
  • In contrast, the number of people identified as separated has levelled off and stood at 118,178, up marginally from 116,194 five years earlier. As divorce in Ireland generally requires a period of separation in the first instance (up to five years) the figures reflects both a progression for people from separation to divorce, combined with more people becoming separated.

Link to One Family Annual Review 2018:

For further information, visit www.onefamily.ie.

Available for Interview

Karen Kiernan, CEO | t: 01 662 9212 or 086 850 9191

Further Information/Scheduling

Noel Sweeney, Communications and Events Manager | t: 01 622 9212 or 085 7241294

Majority of parents resort to court to agree child maintenance and child’s needs do not determine amount paid

One Family call for the establishment of Statutory Child Maintenance Agency

[Dublin, 15 July 2019] One Family- Ireland’s organisation for people parenting alone, sharing parenting, and separating today released the results of a national survey of parents in relation to child maintenance. The launch comes as the charity launches its new child maintenance position paper.

Karen Kiernan, CEO explains: “We know from our services and particularly calls to our national helpline, askonefamily; that parents really struggle with understanding how to come to an agreement around how much child maintenance should be paid and what to do if it is not paid.  Nearly half of the respondents who are the primary carers of the children do not receive any child maintenance at all, whilst most people have had to resort to court to come to agreement.”

Of the 1,068 respondents to the survey 58% resorted to court order to agree child maintenance, while 42% of the parents who are primary carers do not receive any child maintenance. However, 75% of those who do receive payments reported that they are paid regularly. When it comes to agreeing how much parents should be paid only 9% of respondents said it was determined by the needs of the child.

Kiernan added, “We are launching our new position paper on the thorny issue of child maintenance as for too long governments have ignored it, happy to leave it to parents and courts to battle things out. This is not working for anyone as children and parents can end up financially worse off or abused, our courts are jammed delivering maintenance orders that they cannot enforce, and we are again decades behind our neighbours across Europe.”

“What we need is a statutory child maintenance agency as part of a comprehensive Court Welfare Service that can determine appropriate levels to be paid in a fair child-centred way; that has the ability to ensure that children and families actually receive the maintenance and removes this issue from our adversarial courts system.”

/Ends

Notes to editor:

About One Family One Family was founded in 1972 as Cherish and is Ireland’s organisation for one-parent families and people sharing parenting or separating.

Survey results and position paper:

Survey summary findings here:

One Family position paper on child maintenance here:

Available for Interview

Karen Kiernan, CEO | t: 01 662 9212 or 086 850 9191

Further Information/Scheduling

Noel Sweeney, Communications and Events Manager | t: 01 622 9212 or 085 724 1294

Calls at Pre-Budget Forum for Budget 2020 to be based on evidence

Reports pile up with evidence about what needs to be done to unlock lone parents and their children from the poverty trap

[Dublin, Thursday 4 July] One Family – Ireland’s organisation for people parenting alone, sharing parenting and separating has called on the Government to urgently implement the recommendations of the eight Government and independently commissioned reports published since 2016 on one-parent families and poverty. All eight reports make similar recommendations and urge the implementation of targeted supports for one-parent families. The call comes as One Family publishes its Pre-Budget Submission for Budget 2020 ahead of the Department of Employment Affairs & Social Protection’s Pre-Budget Forum on 5 July.

One Family CEO Karen Kiernan said, “In the last three years, eight reports on one-parent families and poverty have been published; and are now piling-up on shelves in Government departments. Each report paints a similar picture of children growing up in the grip of poverty. These families are consistently among the worse off in our society, they are disproportionately represented in the homelessness figures and the living standards of working one-parent families are now amongst the worst in Europe[1]. This is just not right – these are real families, with real children and their lives matter.We need targeted measures that support one-parent families to support themselves out of poverty. Government needs to prove it is listening to its own research and do the right thing.”

Ms. Kiernan added, “In our Pre-Budget Submission we have outlined eighteen targeted measures based on the research that, if implemented, would significantly change the lives of thousands of children. We want Government to respond to the evidence with compassion and justice in Budget 2020 by developing a cross-departmental response to the needs of one-parent families. If this problem is tackled now, we will avoid condemning another generation of children and their parents to poverty and this is not something we want as a society.”

To read the full details of our Pre-Budget Submission please click here.

Major Research on One-Parent Families since 2016:

  • (2019) Working, Parenting and Struggling? An analysis of the employment and living conditions of one parent families in Ireland. A Report by the Society of St Vincent de Paul. Dublin, Ireland.
  • (2018) Lone-Parent Incomes and Work Incentives. Budget Perspectives 2019. Paper 1, July 2018. Regan, M., Keane, C., and Walsh, J.R. ESRI.
  • (2018) Understanding, negotiating and navigating the politicisation of evidence-based policy research: the case of Irish research on lone parent labour market activation policy. Millar, M., Crosse, R., Canavan, J. University of Bristol, UK
  • (2018) In-Work Benefits: The (in)adequacy of in-work benefits in Irish lone parent labour market activation policy. Millar, M., Gray, J., Et al., Journal of Poverty and Social Justice. Policy Press, University of Bristol, UK.
  • (2017) An Independent Review to Identify the Supports and Barriers for Lone Parents in Accessing Higher Education and to Examine Measures to Increase Participation. Delma Byrne and Clíona Murray Maynooth University (Commissioned by DES, DEASP and DCYA).
  • (2017) Houses of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Social Protection Report on the Position of Lone Parents in Ireland.
  • (2017) Indecon Independent Review of the Amendments to the One-parent Family Payment since January 2012. Presented to Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection Prepared by Indecon Research Economists www.indecon.ie
  • (2016) Lone Parents and Activation, What Works and Why: A Review of the International Evidence in the Irish Context. Millar, M and Crosse,R.  The UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre, National University of Ireland, Galway.

Ends/

Notes to the Editor:

About One Family:

One Family is Ireland’s organisation for one-parent families and people sharing parenting, or separating, offering support, information and services to all members of all one-parent families, to those sharing parenting, to those experiencing an unplanned pregnancy and to professionals working with one-parent families. Children are at the centre of One Family’s work and the organisation helps all the adults in their lives, including mums, dads, grandparents, step-parents, new partners and other siblings, offering a holistic model of specialist family support services.

These services include the lo-call askonefamily national helpline on 1890 662212, counselling, and provision of training courses for parents and for professionals. One Family also promotes Family Day every May, an annual celebration of the diversity of families in Ireland today.

Statistics on one-parent families:

  • There were 218,817 family units with children (of any age) headed by a lone parent (Census 2016).
  • 1 in 4 families with children in Ireland is a one-parent family (Census 2016).
  • 1 in 5 people in Ireland live in a one-parent family (Census 2016).
  • 356,203 children lived in one-parent families, representing more than one in five or 21.2% of all children in family units (Census 2016).
  • In November 2018, 14,349 One-Parent Family Payment recipients (39 per cent of all recipients) are in employment, and of 14,418 Jobseeker’s Transition recipients, 4,037 recipients work. The Working Family Payment is an important support for working parents; almost half of recipients are households headed by a lone parent.
  • The Survey on Income and Living Conditions 2017 (SILC) revealed that one-parent family households experience the most deprivation in Ireland. Almost 45% of lone parent households experience more than one form of deprivation.
  • Children living in one-parent families had the highest consistent poverty rate at 20%. This is compared to a consistent poverty rate of 3.9% for two-parent households. This means that lone parents are five times as likely to be living in consistent poverty compared to two-parent households.
  • One-parent families continue to have the lowest disposable income of all households with children in the state (SILC 2017).
  • 60% of homeless families living in emergency accommodation are one-parent families, at any time.

For further information visit: www.onefamily.ie.

Available for Interview

Karen Kiernan, CEO | t: 01 662 9212 or 086 850 9191

Further Information/Scheduling

Noel Sweeney, Communications and Events Manager | t: 01 622 9212 or 085 7241294


[1] St. Vincent DePaul – Working, Parenting and Struggling (2019)