We’re hiring Telephone Counsellors for the My Options phone line

Are you an experienced professionally accredited counsellor? Would you like to join a team of professional counsellors providing information & support to those with an unplanned pregnancy? The MyOptions phone line is recruiting for Telephone Counsellors https://bit.ly/3lsrts9

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.

Lone Parents at Increased Risk of Poverty

A report from the Department of Children and Youth Affairs states that lone parents are at increased risk of poverty. The report draws from existing data and literature to provide an understanding of what we know about the situation of children living in poverty. It also identifies the main risk factors for experiencing child poverty that can be used to inform future policy developments. A summary of the key findings in relation to one-parent families is outlined below.

Key Findings

  • In 2018, 26.7 per cent of children are at risk of living at or below the 70% poverty line, 15.8 per cent of children are at risk of living at or below the 60% poverty line and 7.4 per cent of children are at risk of living in deep poverty – at or below the 50% poverty line.
  • Children living in households headed by a lone parent have substantially higher levels of poverty than children living in other family structures.
  • Level of education and employment status play a significant role, and studies have shown that lone parents are less likely to hold higher education degrees and also experience higher levels of unemployment. This has a compounding effect that puts lone parents and their children at greater risk of experiencing poverty and deprivation.
  • Access to childcare services also plays a role, as households with children that do not make use of childcare services show higher than average rates of child poverty compared to households with children that use childcare.
  • Lone parent households are four times as likely to experience income poverty than coupled households.
  • Lone parent households are five times as likely to experience material deprivation and consistent poverty.
  • Lone parent households are more likely to experience financial exclusion. They are less likely to hold a bank account or have savings and have limited access to low-cost sources of credit.
  • The ‘Growing up in Ireland’ study found that levels of economic vulnerability were highest among lone parent families (and higher again for those with two or more children), primary caregivers under the age of 25 when the study child was born, and among primary caregivers with low levels of education.

As we can see, living in a household headed by a lone parent clearly influences the likelihood of a child experiencing poverty, particularly where the parent also has a lower level of education or a lack of reliable employment. This should not be the case, and these dynamics require more attention in the Irish context in terms of both policy and research.

Policy and Service Implications

While poverty among children has shown modest improvement since 2011, the current level of child poverty in society is unacceptable.

Some policy implications outlined in the report include:

  • Specific policy actions are urgently required to address child poverty and the variation in poverty risk across age-groups of children in Ireland. The findings presented here suggest that policy measures that were taken to reduce child poverty among very young children (0-5) were successful. This same commitment needs to be extended to all age groups of children and across all domains of children’s lives.
  • While socio-economic status and the employment situation of families has attracted considerable attention in policy and research circles, greater attention must be paid in the Irish context to how child poverty impacts one-parent families and how it operates along migration, minority ethnic, or racial lines.
  • The employment situation of the household and the education level of the parent or caregiver continue to be strong indicators of child poverty. There is need for policy development in the areas of labour market activation, and in-work benefits to determine their effectiveness in reducing child poverty. Research cautions that a work-first approach that seeks to alleviate poverty by moving people off welfare and into work as quickly as possible ignores the critical role that high-quality education and training play in achieving self-sufficiency, especially for the most vulnerable populations. Thus, room for educational development and training opportunities is essential in any welfare to work strategy.
  • There is a clear need to enhance access to affordable all-day childcare, particularly for low-income families.
  • It is well established that several policy mechanisms are required to produce a reduction in child poverty, involving policy that spans a range of Government Departments. A multidimensional approach to the reduction of child poverty will require continuing emphasis on a cross-departmental approach among departments that support public policies for families and children

The full report, Income, Poverty and Deprivation among Children – A Statistical Baseline Analysis, can be found here: https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/a1580-income-poverty-and-deprivation-among-children-a-statistical-baseline-analysis-july-2020/

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:

Top tips: How can we get back into school and work this Autumn

Getting children back to school is not only a key priority for government now but for most parents too. Come September many children will have spent six months full time with parents, acting as teacher, childminder and Mum/Dad. Children mostly do want to get back out into the world, see their friends, get back to activities they love and get away a little from parents. There is of course anxiety around children going back to school, for parents, for children and for the government. Read our tips on how we can back to school and work this Autumn 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