One Family awarded contract for National Telephone Counselling Service for Crisis Pregnancy and Post-Abortion

[Dublin 4 September] Registered charity One Family has been appointed as the provider of the HSE’s National Telephone Counselling Service for Crisis Pregnancy and Post-Abortion. The service is due to start in 2019 and will provide a national counselling service to women experiencing an unplanned or crisis pregnancy. The appointment comes following a European wide e-tender process.

One Family CEO Karen Kiernan said: “One Family is delighted to build on our decades of experience in providing non-directive crisis pregnancy counselling to women, their partners or family members to ensure that women will have all the information and support they need when new legislation is enacted around the provision of abortion services in Ireland.”

The service will provide 20 hours of counselling by telephone per week. Whilst plans are still in development it is anticipated that this will primarily be delivered out of regular office hours. The Sexual Health and Crisis Pregnancy Programme of the HSE undertook the commissioning of this service.

Whilst the maximum budget available for the 3 year service was €800K, One Family’s bid was significantly less than this. One Family has undertaken to provide four counsellors for the 20 hours per week as it is anticipated that demand will be high for this service.

Kiernan continued: “We look forward to working in partnership with the HSE’s Sexual Health & Crisis Pregnancy Programme so we can ensure that high quality services are available to people around Ireland who require them in a time of crisis. The HSE’s planned national promotional campaign will ensure that clear accurate information will be widespread about when and how to access this new innovative service.”

Notes to Editor:

One Family, formerly Cherish, has over 46 years experience working with women experiencing a crisis or unplanned pregnancy. One Family has been providing expert training around the issues of crisis pregnancy, abortion and working with migrants to crisis pregnancy counsellors via Maynooth University over the past eight years.

For further information, visit

Available for Interview

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

Further Information/Scheduling

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

Press Release | New Appointment to the Board of the Courts Service

Press Release | New Appointment to the Board of the Courts Service.

One Family CEO Karen Kiernan appointed to the Board.

One Family – Ireland’s organisation for people parenting alone, sharing parenting, and separating –  announce the appointment of its CEO, Karen Kiernan, to the Board of the Courts Service by Minister of Justice and Equality, Charlie Flanagan.

Ms Kiernan will represent consumers of the Courts Service on the board and her appointment comes following a robust open competition. Ms Kiernan said, “I am delighted to be appointed to the Board and look forward to working to represent the interests of family law users. Working in One Family since 2001, I understand the challenges that parents in conflict can face particularly in relation to custody, access and child maintenance.

Ms Kiernan continues “Family law reform is a key aspect of our Pre Budget Submission 2019 including the introduction of a comprehensive court welfare system that would support all parents and their children through the common and traumatic experience of separation and family dissolution.”

The Court Service Board consists of eighteen members. The function of the Board is to consider and determine policy in relation to the Service, and to oversee the implementation of that policy by the Chief Executive Officer. The full Board is listed here.


Karen Kiernan Biog

Karen Kiernan was born in Dublin and educated at Trinity College. She has spent over twenty years working in the community and voluntary sector for organisations and has been CEO of One Family since 2001. Since she became CEO, Karen has overseen the development and expansion of One Family, which was formerly called Cherish, to become Ireland’s organisation for one-parent families.

Karen is passionate about what she sees as the two most critical issues for people parenting alone, sharing parenting and separating which are the unacceptably high rates of child poverty in one-parent families; and the dearth of supports for people whose families separate.

One Family Pre-Budget Submission calls for evidence based targeted supports rather than blanket increase in social welfare

Minister Doherty must resist attempts to give blanket social welfare increases and instead use research to focus increases on the most vulnerable groups

[Dublin 20 July] One Family, Ireland’s organisation for people parenting alone, sharing parenting and separating has today said Budget 2019 must focus on evidence based targeted supports rather than blanket increases to social welfare. The charity’s comments came at the launch of its Pre-Budget Submission ahead of the Pre-Budget Forum in Dublin Castle.

Karen Kiernan One Family CEO said, “Budget 2019 must focus on targeted ‘evidence based’ increases to social welfare and we call on Minister Doherty to resist attempts to give blanket increases to all social welfare recipients. The Minister should use the realms of research that clearly show children living in one-parent families are consistently more likely to be poor than children in two parent families to target supports to one-parent families.”

Consistent research has shown that children in one-parent families are most at risk of poverty, Government must now act to support these vulnerable families. One Family’s Pre-Budget Submission includes recommendations that would enable Government to provide targeted supports to children living in poverty.

They include:

  • Full restoration of the Income Disregard for One-parent Family Payment and Jobseekers Transition. Increase earnings disregard to €161.40. In 2011, before the 2012 cuts were introduced, the earnings disregard equated to 16.9 hours of National Minimum Wage employment. A disregard of €161.40 would restore these hours and payment levels.
  • Standardise the child maintenance process and provide support for those parenting alone who are pursuing child maintenance. Do not leave this process solely to the parent with care responsibilities.
  • Raise the base rate of the Qualified Child Increase (QCI) from €31.80 to €35.00 per week for one-parent families most at risk of poverty and raise the QCI for children over the age of 12 to €37.80 per week, in recognition of the higher costs faced by families with older children.

One Family’s Pre-Budget Submission can be viewed here.

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.

Further Information

Karen Kiernan, One Family, CEO  | t: 01 662 9212 / 086 850 9191.

Noel Sweeney, Communications & Events Manager | t: 01 662 9212

88% of parents unhappy with campaign posters

Survey finds 75% of parents have discussed abortion with their children because of campaign.

A survey by One Family, Ireland’s organisation for people parenting alone, sharing parenting, and separating, has found that over 88% of parents think the referendum posters are unhelpful with 75% confirming the campaign has led to discussions with their children about abortion.

One Family, which provides crisis pregnancy and post abortion counselling services launched the survey last week following an escalation in the number of people seeking its counselling and parenting services, particularly its tips on how to speak to your child about abortion. The majority of those seeking support said they had done so after they, or their children, had seen graphic campaign posters.

Speaking about the results, One Family CEO Karen Kiernan said, “There has been a marked increase in women and couples seeking our counselling and parenting services. What we are finding is that parents are being triggered by the images into a conversation with their children that they are just not ready for. Many parents are particularly annoyed by posters that parents believe are targeting parents and children such as those being placed near schools. Although we don’t know how the parents might vote, overwhelmingly they are unhappy with the graphic posters.”

When asked ‘Have your children noticed the posters associated with the referendum campaign?’ 84% of parents said yes, their children had noticed the campaign while 88% answered No to the question ‘Have the posters associated with the referendum campaign been helpful to you as a parent?’

The survey found that 75% of parents had a discussion with their child about abortion because of the referendum but many did not do so proactively or willingly. Verbatim comments demonstrate some of the anger parents are feeling:

“This not a topic that I thought my 9 yr old was really ready to hear about or actually understand, but the more graphic posters from the no campaign made the topic impossible to avoid. Initially he was v shocked by the “killing babies” posters and was quite upset about it.”

The survey was conducted online by One Family through its social media and e-zine followers as well as via other organisations working with families and had over 300 respondents.  42% of parents who responded had children in the 6-10 age group, followed by 26% in the 3-5 age group and 20% in the 11+ age group.

 Selection of verbatim quotes from parents:

Q: Have your children noticed the posters associated with the referendum campaign?

“You can’t miss them 100 feet from their school gates.”

“Is it yes for abortion? What is abortion? Do you want abortion?”

“They are a constant source of discussion. They have come up in my child’s class 4th and when he was in 2nd classroom also discussed there. Think teachers are under pressure to provide age appropriate info. think it would associate abortion with killing and murder of babies because of the no posters and don’t know what effect this will have on these kids later.”

“ My 10 year old now informs me randomly that “1 in 5 ‘babies’ in the UK are aborted”

“Thankfully they are too young”

“My eldest son 9 has & can read. My 6 year old hasn’t noticed or hasn’t commented to me.”

Q: Have you discussed the issue of abortion and the referendum with your children as a result of the referendum campaign?

“I didn’t necessarily want to but had to. In the car. Images didn’t help at all. Would have likely discussed it but on my terms and in my words.”

“The campaigners left us with no choice but to discuss an issue which is not appropriate for our children”

“It’s been very difficult. I feel the posters are designed to be manipulative and to force parents into uncomfortable conversations with their children. Will the no side try to win at any price ? Even the innocence of children??”

“As far as it is Human Rights issue, content No poster not negative towards children”

“6 years old too young to discuss it with.”

“This not a topic that I thought my 9 yr old was really ready to hear about or actually understand, but the more graphic posters from the no campaign made the topic impossible to avoid. Initially he was v shocked by the “killing babies” posters and was quite upset about it.”

“He’s five so I’ve just explained about voting and we’ve practised voting with him and his younger sister on simple issues like what will we have for dinner. He hasnt read the word abortion he hasn’t asked so I haven’t discussed”.

Q: Have the posters associated with the referendum campaign been helpful to you as a parent?

“It’s nightmare explaining to 8 year old about abortion”

“I would have liked to have been in control of when we had the conversation.”

“Very difficult for them to get a balanced view when posters are so based on images of babies. I don’t think it is fair coverage. Referendum posters should be text only in my opinion.”

“Would answer somewhat helpful. Neither side is fully engaged or respectful with the impact this has on potential parents, pregnant women, but i would say particularly the No side has been disrespectful of women.”

“The images of foetuses on the posters with messages about killing etc. are extremely unhelpful because they have required explaining to my son (age 8) and that the No posters are lying about babies being aborted at 6 months, that they are just trying to manipulate people.”

“The posters are forcing parents to have to discuss a matter that’s just not appropriate for discussion with young children. I don’t want to tell my child why girls and women need access to a abortion ie when they have been raped, suicidal or when their life is at risk.”

“I’m lucky he hasn’t asked anything about the issue. But it’s been helpful to introduce the concept of voting and having a say in what the government does.”


Notes to Editor:

Survey ran online from Saturday 28 April to 9am Friday 4 May and 325 parents responded.

One Family, formerly Cherish, has been providing services and supports for people parenting alone, sharing parenting, and separating since 1972. One Family provides post-termination and crisis pregnancy counselling and supports to its clients in their roles as parents and into training, education and employment. One Family also provides support for children in one-parent families.

For more information on who we are and what we do please visit:

One Family’s counselling services are funded by the HSE Sexual Heath and Crisis Pregnancy Programme (SHCPP). Details of HSE funded services are available on and

One Family’s parenting tips are available here:

For more information please contact:

  • CEO, Karen Kiernan on tel: 086 850 9191
  • Communications and Events Manager, Noel Sweeney on tel: 085 7241294

How to talk with your child about abortion – A guide from One Family

One Family is aware that many parents are struggling to answer questions from their children about the abortion referendum and the associated posters, leaflets and online content. We would like to offer some support to parents so they can talk with their children with confidence. Parents are also welcome to contact our askonefamily helpline on 1890662212 or 016629212

Here are some thoughts and tips for different aged children that you may find useful in the coming weeks. As a parent remember, you know your child best and know what they are capable of understanding.


Children aged 3-5 years

As the campaign heats up there will be visual images on posters, leaflets and the media that children as young as 3-5 years old may notice and ask why. Of course at this age, children are far too young to understand the complexity of abortion. But they may be upset or confused by some of the images that are used in the campaign.

For parents the key things to remember are:

  • Think about the age of your child when you are giving them information. Decide what is appropriate for them and what they can understand. It is important to help them learn, not to scare them or leave them feeling worried about issues. Think about the language your kids use and the stories your kids are familiar with try and put it into a language that they will understand.
  • If your young child asks why there is a picture of a baby on a poster, explain to them that there is a big thing called a vote on right now. This is a time when people in our country have to decide about something, just like your child has to decide. Tell them that people think many different things, just like your child may. You can explain to them that some people are using images to show what to decide and they would like others to hear their voice about this, just like your child wants to be heard when they have something to say.
  • If your child asks what the vote is about you can tell them that this is when a woman decides she is not ready to be a mum. She can go to the hospital and get support with this and this vote is about how to help the women.
  • Reassure your child that it is okay for people to  make decisions  and make their voice heard. However, also reassure them that these are only pictures and that they do not need to worry about the babies.
  • Try to then bring them back to more positive, easier to manage situations appropriate to their age. However, remember they will ask again tomorrow. They may ask more about what a vote is or some other word you used when talking with them.
  • Be patient and continue to use your good parenting skills – listen and take time to answer their questions in an age appropriate way. Explain to them and reassure them. Do it all again tomorrow and the next day until they are clear and are fully reassured.


Children aged 6-10 years

Children in this age group can take a great interest in what is going on around them, in their school, their local community and in their home. You will find they may be listening in on adult conversations more frequently, or listening to what is on the news as they are becoming very curious about the bigger world around them.

The campaigns on the upcoming referendum for the repeal of the 8th amendment will generate great curiosity for them. As a parent some key issues for you to consider in order to support your child in the coming weeks include:

  • Firstly, you need to be clear on where you stand on the issue of the referendum to repeal the 8th amendment. Understanding why you have your opinion and being able to explain this to your child in an age appropriate way is key to helping them.
  • At this age, factual information is still often what they require.
  • Explain to your child clearly what abortion is. Simple accurate wording is that ‘abortion is when a woman chooses to no longer be pregnant and her pregnancy is ended with a procedure called an abortion’. Another word for abortion is termination.
  • In Ireland we do not have the ability to have abortions and we are now being asked to vote to decide if we should allow women in Ireland to be able to make the decision to have an abortion or not.
  • Right now if a woman decides she does not want to be pregnant, she can go to England or another country and have the operation there. She can also take tablets in Ireland but she cannot have any help from doctors here doing this. This does not work for many women and has caused them problems.
  • Tell your child there are many reasons that women decide to have an abortion. You can tell them if you feel strongly either way. However try to stick to facts. At this age, they may not necessarily want to know, or have the capacity to understand what you believe. They want facts and knowledge. Children want to know why there are posters and why people are talking about the issue.
  • When they reach the next stage of development then it may be the right time to talk with them about what you believe about abortion and related issues.


Children aged 11 years and older

Children of this age range will hopefully have a good understanding of reproduction, sexuality and they may also be starting to experience relationships. Parents and schools will have hopefully have spoken in great detail with these young people about how their bodies work, how babies are formed and the importance of sex and relationships. Some young girls may already have started their period and may be very conscious of how a girl or woman can become pregnant. Many young people in this age range will be starting puberty so sexual development will be a key issue for them. Some areas to consider when supporting adolescents include:

  • These children and young people will need a lot of support from parents and adults around them to help them understand what the referendum to repeal the 8th amendment is all about. Making time to sit and talk with them is really important as they may not always proactively come to you and ask you their questions. However it is always best they get good information from their parents rather than mixed messages through social media, friends and the larger community.
  • For many parents it may seem easy to close down the conversation and offer moral reasoning to young people, however they may still not understand what the voting is all about. So it is important to try, no matter what you feel about the topic to explore it gently with them.
  • Explain what the legal situation is in Ireland. Women do not have the ability to end a pregnancy here unless they decide to travel abroad or access pills online without medical care.
  • Ensure they know what an abortion is. An abortion is when a woman has a medical procedure or takes special medication that will result in her no longer being pregnant.
  • Think about what you would want for your child, young person if they experienced an unplanned or crisis pregnancy in the future. Would you want them to have a choice?  Have you raised them to know they should always have options and that you will support them in the choices they make, although some will have very difficult and serious consequences?
  • Talk with young people about the importance of relationships, of contraception and consent within relationships. Help them to understand all the key issues they need to explore and understand so crisis pregnancy will hopefully never be an issue that they are presented with. However help them to understand clearly the issue of access to abortion that is presenting today in Ireland.
  • Your young people are not old enough to vote, so you do not need to convince them of what they should think. It is about giving them good clear information and allowing them form their own opinions, just as you most likely do with so many other issues that have come up over the years.  Respecting their opinion will encourage them to respect your opinion.


Media | One Family Podcast: Farewell to Cherish House

Last month, after over forty years in Cherish House on Lower Pembroke Street, One Family moved to new premises in Smithfield, Dublin 7 to more fully meet the need of parents and children as demand for our supports and services continues to grow. While looking forward to the move and to welcoming clients to the new building, everyone who has lived, worked or visited Cherish House over the decades has been moved by the story of the building, by its history and by the memories it holds.

Just before moving, our founding member Maura O’Dea Higgins and some of One Family’s staff team spoke with producer Judy-Meg Ní Chinnéide about Cherish House. Maura recalls trying to find other women who were lone parents in 1970s Ireland, how the organisation came into being in Cherish House, and the early days of meetings by firelight when there was no electricity. Staff shared what the building and its people have meant to us and to the families who lived here when they had nowhere else to go, and how will we carry those memories with us into the future.

Listen to the podcast on the link below (7.5 minutes duration). We hope you enjoy it.


Music credit: Søren Nissen Jørgensen.

The music on this podcast is shared under a Creative Commons license by its composer Søren Nissen Jørgensen.

News | Our 45th Anniversary Media Interviews and Open Door Day

One Family celebrates 45 years in 2017. We were founded by a small group of strong, brave women in 1972. You can read more about our history here. This year, we will also be moving from Cherish House on Lower Pembroke Street, our home for over 40 years, to our new building in Smithfield, Dublin 7 next month. It is fully accessible and larger, so that we can further extend our services to support even more parents and children through difficult times.

Yesterday our founding member Maura O’Dea Richards and our CEO Karen Kiernan were interviewed on RTÉ Radio 1’s Ray D’Arcy Show. Maura shared her personal story, including how she had to hide her pregnancy and how she fought for the right to rear her child, in a passionate, funny and moving interview which you can listen to on this link.

It was an honour to receive the following message from President Michael D Higgins for Maura, which was sent to,and read out on, the Ray D’Arcy Show:

For many years single mothers in our society were an excluded group of people without a voice. I thank you for all you’ve done in promoting an inclusive citizenship by ensuring that lone parents and their children are treated with respect and are valued as a family within our society.

Your contribution to changing the landscape for lone parents in this county has been a significant one. I congratulate you for your dedication and commitment and I wish you every success in the future.

President Michael D Higgins

Today in the Irish Times, Sheila Wayman speaks with three women about their experiences of parenting alone across the generations, and across four decades, to ask what has or has not changed in Irish society in the time since our founding? Sharing their stories are our founding member Evelyn Forde, Sharon Keane and Lee Nagle. You can read the feature here.

Tomorrow, Wednesday 28 June, we invite people who would like to wish farewell to Cherish House to join us between 10am-4pm for our Open Door Day when an exhibition of photographs and archive materials will be on display at 2 Lower Pembroke Street, Dublin 2.

If you would like to support our Building Futures Fund and the refurbishment of our new building, you can find out more here.



News | One Family Summary of Budget 2017

One Family has summarised Budget 2017 changes which may be relevant to people parenting alone or sharing parenting, as announced on Tuesday 11th October 2016.

Social Welfare Payments

Basic Rate of Payment

Including One Parent Family Payment, Jobseeker’s Allowance Transition, Jobseeker’s Allowance, Carer’s Allowance and others.
This includes employment programmes such as CE, TÚS and Rural Social Scheme.
Proportionate increases in weekly payments for qualified adults will apply from March 2017 (applies to full rate payment recipients).

€5 weekly increase.


One Parent Family Payment & Jobseeker’s Transition

For those in employment, the weekly income disregard will increase from €90 to €110 from January 2017. This means that the first €110 of earnings will be ignored and half of the remainder of earnings will be assessed to give a new rate of One Parent Family Payment or Jobseeker’s Transition. Combined with the €5 basic rate increase, this should result in an increase of €15 per week for recipients of OFP and JST.

Income Disregard increased by €20 per week


Child Benefit

The current rate remains at €140 per month.

No change.


Secondary Payments

Fuel Allowance

Currently €22.50 weekly.

No change.



Back to Education Allowance

Cost of Education Allowance (re)introduced per annum for all parents in receipt of Back to Education Allowance.

€500 Cost of Education Allowance annually.

Back to Education Allowance to increase by €5 per week.


School Meals

Funding for School Meals being increased so that 50,000 extra children can benefit, further details to be received.

Widening of the scheme.


Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance

The allowance paid for each eligible child aged 4-11 is €100. The allowance paid for each eligible child aged 12-22 is €200.

No change.



Family Income Supplement

Household income thresholds remain at 2016 levels, and no qualifying hours criteria change.

No change.


Income Tax, PRSI and Universal Social Charge

Self Employed – Earned Income Tax Credit increased to €950.

Changes for self-employed.

USC – Three lowest bands each reduced by 0.5% and the €18,668 band raised to €18,772 from 1 January.

USC band changes.


Back to Work Enterprise Allowance

A proportionate €5 increase to Back to Work Enterprise Allowance and now accessible to Jobseekers moving to self-employment after 9 months, down from 12 months.

Proportionate €5 increase& eligibility expanded.


Minimum Wage

Increase to €9.25 from €9.15 per hour.

10c per hour increase.



Housing Assistance Payment

HAP – Additional €105 million (220% increase) for Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) to accommodate an additional 15,000 households and a total of over 21,000social housing applicants in private rented accommodation.
Further details to be received.

Allocation increase.




New – A new scheme, the Single Affordable Childcare Scheme, will commence in September 2017. It will provide means-tested subsidies, based on parental income, for children aged between six months and 15 years, and universal subsidies for all children aged six months to three years who are cared for by Tusla-registered childminders/care centres.

Households earning up to €47,500 net income will be able to avail of this subsidised childcare. The highest levels of subsidy will be provided to those on lower incomes, approximately €8,000 a year, based on the maximum of 40-hours childcare a week.

Single Affordable Childcare Scheme introduced.


ECCE Scheme

ECCE – There will be further roll-out of the Early Childhood Care and Education Scheme (ECCE) to apply to all children from age three until they start school.

ECCE Scheme expanded.


Medical Card

Medical card will be available for all children who receive Domiciliary Care Allowance. Prescription charges unchanged for those aged under 69.

Eligibility extended.


Christmas Bonus

Christmas bonus will be paid in December 2017 to long-term social welfare recipients (15 months or more)at a rate of 85% of their payment; this includes those on One-Parent Family Payment, Jobseeker’s Allowance Transition, Jobseeker’s Allowance, Back to Work Family Dividend, Carer’s Allowance, Disability Allowance, Widow/Widower’s/Surviving Civil Partner’s Pensions. This also includes employment and education programmes such as CE, JobBridge, Back to Work Enterprise Allowance, Back to Education Allowance, VTOS etc.

10% Increase.


For further information visit the official Government Budget page here


Better Together video still

Vote for One Family in the Better Together Video Competition

One Family has entered the Better Together video competition. With your help, we could win €1,000 towards our work with and for one-parent families, people sharing parenting and families in transition. Our video was filmed at our annual Family Day Festival this year. We founded and promote Family Day, inspired by UN International Day of Families, to raise awareness of family diversity in Ireland today and to celebrate all families. We believe that society is better when all its members feel valued and included.

It’s easy for you to help and takes just two minutes. Simply watch and vote for our video on this link. If we receive enough votes, One Family’s video will be among 70 shortlisted for assessment by a panel of judges.

Please vote every day until 21 November.

Better Together video still

If you wish, you can also make a donation towards our work on the same link.

Thank you for your support. We are also grateful to talented videographer Gerard O’Donnell.




Positive Parenting for Changing Families | The Family Law System

During National Parents Week 2014 we’re asking, “What’s the important issue for you around positive parenting for changing families?” Watch this short video where Donagh McGowan, Solicitor and incoming Chair of the Law Society Family Law Committee and member of the Family Law Court Development Committee, talks about his important issue: how to address the failings of the current family law system.

Donagh was a speaker at our Positive Parenting for Changing Families Seminar on Tuesday 21 October in Dublin Castle. Other speakers included: Stella Owens, Centre for Effective Services, Chair of Special Interest Group on Supporting Parents; Helen Deely, Head of HSE Crisis Pregnancy Programme; and Niall Egan, Jobseekers and One Parent Family Policy Section, Department of Social Protection. The panel was chaired by Dr Anne-Marie McGauran, NESC, and One Family Board member.