A third of one-parent families surveyed have been pushed onto social welfare because of a lack of childcare

Childcare survey

As the economy re-opens and people are called back to work, we are asking parents to complete a quick two-minute survey about their childcare concerns and whether they think it will impact their income/job security.

To fill out this anonymous survey click here:

We are looking to quantify parents’ concerns as part of the #ChildcarePreventsHomelessness campaign with Focus Ireland, Children’s Right Alliance, Barnardos Ireland, Treoir, FLAC, Dress for Success and the National Women’s Council of Ireland.

One Family’s tips on how to make blended families work makes the news

One Family’s tips on how to make blended families work was featured in an article by Sheila Wayman in the Irish Times on Wednesday 2 September. The article featured comment by One Family’s CEO Karen Kiernan on how to make blended families work – to read the article click: Irish Times article:

Meanwhile, our helpline staff have come up with a list of books that parents could find helpful when starting conversations with children about blended and shared families. Diverse families: onefamily.ie/booklist/diver and Blended Families: onefamily.ie/booklist/blend

One Family’s tips on how to make blended families work:

  • Never presume just because you as adults are in a good relationship that your children will be overjoyed to meet your new partner’s children;
  • Ensure your couple relationship is strong and stable before subjecting children to a blended family. You will need to agree how you both play a role in parenting each other’s children, especially if they are young and you are left in charge at times;
  • It must be made very clear to children that new partners are not replacing mum/dad. They should always call the new partner by their first name;
  • Children usually choose who they become friends with, so being landed with someone else’s children all of a sudden is not easy and they may not get along. Yet they need to feel at home in each parent’s home;
  • Children want to spend time with parents and not always with new blended families, unless you are very lucky. Sharing you may be a challenge;
  • If you have no children but are moving in with your new partner and their children, you need to do it in stages. It is a bit like being an uncle/aunt. You need to support the children to have a good relationship with both biological parents and extended family – this comes before your family;
  • Couple time is crucial. If you get caught up in childcare and parenting with no time as a couple, you will fall down. You must have a strong relationship, take time to talk and compromise, so you can parent children in the one home and meet their needs;
  • Include children in the planning to become a blended family. Include the other parent(s) in this plan too;
  • Explain family forms to children – do not presume they get it. Be factual and help them understand about whose mum/dad is whose biologically and otherwise, about step siblings and grandparents etc Help them explain their family form to others and to feel proud of the family form they belong to.

For more parenting tips click here:

Webinar: Building a Family Law System for Families – recording now available

Thank you to everyone who was able to join our webinar on Building a Family Law System for Families. The panel was chaired by One Family CEO Karen Kiernan with panellists including Deputy Secretary General, Department Justice & Equality, Oonagh Buckley, former CEO of the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service in England and Wales (Cafcass), Anthony Douglas,  His Honour Judge Colin Daly – President of the District Court and Peter Mullan – Head of Circuit & District Courts Directorate, Court Service of Ireland.

The panel looked at the experience of England and Wales in reforming their family law system and the proposed family law reforms set out in the Irish Government’s Programme for Government. A recording of the webinar is now available: https://youtu.be/ssGCZSsePng

 

Ireland remains decades behind neighbours in private family law services

Courts should be last resort for separating families

One Family CEO, Karen Kiernan, has said, Ireland is decades behind the rest of Europe in supporting families and protecting children who use the family law system.  Ms Kiernan’s comments come ahead of a free seminar of leading Irish and international experts on Family Law this Thursday, 2 July from 3pm – 5pm live online. The seminar Building a Family Law System for Families examines how the proposed family law reform as set out in the Programme for Government will work and will offer a vision for how radical change could be implemented for the better in the future.

Karen Kiernan, CEO of One Family explained: “Many of our family law systems are antiquated and overly focussed on conflict and court. What children and their separated parents need is support to share parenting well such as appropriate policies, legislation, mediation as well as necessary parenting and therapeutic services. They do not need to be unnecessarily funnelled into court hearings because there are no alternatives to resolve difficulties. Court should be the last resort.”

Speaking ahead of the seminar, Anthony Douglas CBE, former CEO of The Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service in England (Cafcass) explains how the organisation re-engineered the entire family law system in England and Wales over the last ten years to provide a system rooted in the need for children’s safety and well-being:

“In England and Wales there was willingness amongst policy makers, practitioners and Government for a radical change in the provision of family law. There was a feeling that court practices were out of touch with the way children and families lived their lives. Working together, we transformed the system to reduce delay, be more child-focussed and to understand both the advantages and limitations of family courts in resolving family problems. Our goal has been to provide a therapeutic justice system focused on conflict resolution rather than having your day in court where there are rarely winners and losers. Ireland can learn a lot from the English and Welsh experience.”

Ms Kiernan added, “We have opportunities in the coming years to begin building a reformed family law system that focuses on the needs of families rather than on the courts, the legal practitioners or the state. The implementation and adequate resourcing of the proposed legislation on the Family Law Courts by the new Government is absolutely critical to begin this process. We need more family support services such as the counselling and parenting programmes provided by One Family and others funded to help families navigate the difficulties of separation and divorce.”

Speakers at the seminar include:

  • Oonagh Buckley – Deputy Secretary General, Department Justice & Equality
  • Anthony Douglas CBE – Former CEO of Cafcass
  • His Honour Judge Colin Daly – President of the District Court
  • Peter Mullan – Head of Circuit & District Courts Directorate, Court Service of Ireland.

For more information on the seminar click: https://onefamily.ie/family-law-conference/

For Editors:
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.
For further information visit: www.onefamily.ie

Cafcass:

Cafcass stands for the Child and Family Court Advisory and Support Service. Cafcass is a national arms-length Government body sponsored by the Ministry of Justice, providing a court-based service to 140,000 children a year in public and private law cases throughout England. Their remit is to understand and advise courts about the needs wishes and feelings of individual children.

Anthony Douglas CBE:

Anthony Douglas was Chief Executive of Cafcass from 2004-19 and now has a small consultancy business working in the UK and internationally. He took Cafcass from an ‘inadequate’ to an ‘outstanding’ Ofsted rating and from working with 60,000 children a year in 2008 to 140,000 in 2019. Anthony was an economist and a journalist prior to becoming a social worker and has written 4 books on UK social care and is now writing a fifth on the importance of social care in a civilised society. He was Director of Social Services in Suffolk between 2002 and 2004. He is now a Visiting Professor at the University of East Anglia and was a member of the Family Justice Board and the Adoption Leadership Board in England and Wales for many years. He was awarded a CBE in 2008 for services to family justice and adoption and was given the ‘outstanding contribution to social work’ award at the Social Worker of the Year Awards in November 2018. He is currently a member of a small advisory group to the President of the Family Division for England and Wales about transparency in the family courts.

For Interview:

Karen Kiernan, CEO | t: 086 850 9191

Anthony Douglas, former CEO of Cafcass

Further Information/Scheduling
Noel Sweeney, Communications and Events Manager | t: 085 7241294

 

84% increase in calls to lone parents’ helpline during lockdown

Press release: 1 June 2020

A specialist helpline for one-parent families has recorded an 84% increase in calls when compared with the same period last year as parents struggle with life in lockdown. The askonefamily helpline run by charity, One Family, provides support for people parenting alone, sharing parenting and those separating. The increase comes as parents seek support on new and challenging issues that have arisen since restrictions began such as access to shops, access/contact arrangements for separated parents, payment of child maintenance, guardianship issues, queries on their social welfare payments and money worries following loss of employment due to Covid19.

One Family CEO Karen Kiernan said, “All our services have been extremely busy as demand from parents increased due to the lockdown. As soon as restrictions were announced, we moved all our parenting and counselling services to telephone and online. We rolled out new services such as parent & toddler groups and coffee mornings via Zoom to combat social isolation and provide practical support to parents. In response to demand, we also introduced specialist slots on our expanded helpline from our parenting, early years and play therapy staff to answer questions on changes to children’s behaviour and other parenting issues arising during lockdown.”

Helpline manager Sarah Devilly said, “We’re hearing more distress on calls as parents try to cope with an extended period of balancing childcare with work and/or managing a loss of income and changed family routines and reduced contact with other family members. Calls to the askonefamily helpline tend to vary greatly with some short focused calls as parents seek and find the information they need, while others can last up to an hour as parents seek listening support and an opportunity to talk about their particular problems.”

Karen Kiernan added, “The issues that are coming up on the helpline are reflected in results of a recent survey we did, with 42% of parents concerned about access issues during lockdown and 65% worried about what happens to their child if they were to get sick. We have been working to address these issues with guidance on how to manage access/contact arrangements in your family [link] and guidance on planning to look after your child if you were to get sick [link].

“We’ve also being working behind the scenes and in the media to raise awareness of the issue of children being banned in shops, with some success as responsible retailers adapted their policies and the Taoiseach’s office called for retailers to adopt a common sense approach [link]. Though there are still problems for some families as some retailers ignore advice from Government to protect vulnerable families.”

One Family want to assure parents that we are here to help and the askonefamily helpline is open to answer questions visit www.onefamily.ie

/Ends/

askonefamily helpline:
Telephone: lo-call: 1890 662 9212or from a mobile 01-662 9212
Email: info@onefamily.ie
Social Media: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

For Editors:
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. For further information, visit www.onefamily.ie. The askonefamily helpline can be contacted on lo-call 1890 66 22 12 or 01-6629212.

All One Family’s services are open though operating with some restrictions during Covid-19 click here for a list of services

For further information visit: www.onefamily.ie

Available for Interview
Karen Kiernan, CEO | t: 086 850 9191

Further Information/Scheduling
Noel Sweeney, Communications and Events Manager | t: 085 7241294

One Family welcomes plan to expand family law cases – warns reform must continue post-COVID in the new Government

[9 May 2020] One Family – Ireland’s organisation for people parenting alone, sharing parenting and separating, today, welcomed the announcement that the District court is working to hear more cases during the COVID crisis specifically in relation to access and child maintenance issues.

One Family CEO Karen Kiernan said, “Our askonefamily helpline has been inundated with calls in recent weeks from concerned and conflicted parents in relation to access visits and child maintenance payments in particular. We are very pleased to note the Courts Service and the President of the District Court listen to our concerns on these issues and commit to hearing access and maintenance issues as urgent.”

Ms. Kiernan added, “As courts and parents adapt to remote and scheduled hearings during this crisis we are calling on the next Government to continue this reform process and ensure that the draft Family Law Courts legislation is included in the next Programme for Government. Significant work has been completed on this legislation and it is critical to providing the basis for vital reforms of the family law system in Ireland which is decades behind our neighbours.”

“We calling on all parties and to include Reform of Family Law and the establishment of a statutory child maintenance agency in the programme for Government as outlined in One Family Election Manifesto.”

-Ends-

For Editors:

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. For further information, visit www.onefamily.ie. The askonefamily helpline can be contacted on lo-call 1890 66 22 12 or 01-6629212.

All One Family’s services are open though operating with some restrictions during Covid-19 click here for a list of services

One Family’s Election Manifesto here.

For further information visit: www.onefamily.ie 

Available for Interview

Karen Kiernan, CEO | t: 086 850 9191

Further Information/Scheduling

Noel Sweeney, Communications and Events Manager | t: 085 7241294

Policy update

We hope you and your family are keeping safe and well. Over the week we have been busy on a number of different policy areas that are important to the families we represent.

Access: We have updated our guidance [link] on how to manage access issues several times following regulations on the issue from government, statements from the Minister for Justice and the President of the District Court as well as guidelines from the Law Society. The advice is clear for parents who are able to negotiate and come to new agreements if required; but for those who cannot reach agreement even with professional inputs then courts in general have not been hearing access cases. We will continue to raise this as an issue with the Courts Service as they start to provide some cases remotely using ICT.

Shopping with children: Following a lot of behind the scenes advocacy work and individual parents and organisations raising awareness of the issue in the media, we are delighted to hear the issue of children being banned in shops being addressed in the daily briefing from the Taoiseach’s office [link]. If anybody out there is still having problems please do let One Family know and we will intervene on your behalf with Retail Ireland or with the relevant shop.

Social welfare/income supports: We know that with so many job losses, people parenting alone who frequently work part-time in low paid employment have been hit hard. We have worked hard to have all your queries clarified with the Dept of Employment Affairs and Social Protection and we now know that people in receipt of the OFP, JST and JSA who were working and were laid off as a result of COVID are entitled to apply for the COVID Pandemic Unemployment Payment [link].

Also just a reminder that you can find the form to designate someone else to collect your payment from the post office here [link] and the form to request your payment is paid into a bank account instead of collected from the post office is here [link].

Practical Supports: We have agreement at a national level that people in one-parent families who need help with shopping or any other practical issues will be helped through the local authority helplines and the Community Call volunteer systems [link] they may be able to get shopping for you if you cannot get out or perhaps give you hard copies of forms that you need. Any problems let us know.

Child Maintenance: We have been working with the Dept of Employment Affairs and Social Protection on the process that people should use if child maintenance ends. They have said that parents should let them know in writing about the loss you have and they will reissue your payment to the correct amount for 12 weeks and then the issue will be reviewed [link to DEASP statement]. If it is court-ordered maintenance you may also wish to apply for a hearing on the matter although this may be delayed. However we are also raising the importance of hearing maintenance enforcement cases as well with the Court Service. [link to media coverage on the issue]

Domestic Violence: We know that the difficulties around access and contact visits in families where there is domestic abuse can continue or be increased now with new arrangements and flexibilities required due to travel restrictions. We want to remind everyone that District Courts are taking applications in relation to domestic abuse; Women’s Aid have a new helpline to support people in court cases [link] and there is a government campaign called Still Here to support victims [link].

Access to ICT: We know that many families are struggling with not enough data as free wifi is now unavailable in public places and children and parents are trying to learn from home. The telecomm companies have agreed a number of measures to ensure customers stay connected [link]. There is also work ongoing between organisations and government around sourcing laptops and tablets for families who need them [link].

If you need support or help the askonefamily helpline can be contacted Monday – Friday on 01-662 9212 email: info@onefamily.ie or on social media.