Policy | Update from the Policy Desk

The One Family Policy Service has been focussed on the Budget 2018 announcement in recent weeks. On 10 October the Minister for Finance, Pascal Donohoe outlined a summary of budgetary measures to be implemented during 2018. You can read a summary of the key changes to social welfare entitlements here. The Budget goes a small way towards supporting lone parents and their children, but more is needed to ensure they are supported into education and work, while acknowledging the hard work they are doing raising their children alone. We were particularly disappointed that there were no meaningful provisions in the Budget to improve access to education for lone parents. Education is the key to lifting lone parent families out of long term poverty and deprivation. Read our post Budget press release here.

We responded to the release of a report by Indecon Economic Consultants commissioned by Government to examine the impact of austerity measures on one-parent families –  ‘Indecon Independent Review of the Amendments to the One-parent Family Payment since January 2012’. There were a number of very concerning findings arising from the report including 43% of parents reporting that their family wellbeing decreased due to the reform and 40% reporting their children’s wellbeing decreased. 63% of the respondents in full-time employment also stated that they cannot afford 3+ items on the deprivation list, meaning that they are most definitely experiencing deprivation daily and in-work poverty. Currently we see parents in precarious, low paid employment and this is not a victory for Government policy, or a signpost to continue unchanged in this direction, as more children in more one-parent families are living in consistent poverty. You can read our full response to this report here.

One Family want to ensure that the Census is inclusive of all family types and reflects the diversity of families in Ireland so we made a submission to the Central Statistics Office on the content of the questionnaire for the 2021 Census.

We attended a conference marking the five year anniversary of the Children’s Referendum on 10 November 2012 which aimed to strengthen children’s rights in the Irish Constitution. Our CEO, Karen Kiernan, highlighted the importance of constitutional protection for all children and not just for children who live in married families.

The results of the Quarterly National Household Survey for Households & Family Units were released by the Central Statistics Office on 19 October.  The results revealed the most recent employment statistics for lone parents. While there have been some marginal increases in employment for lone parents, One Family remain concerned about the quality and sustainability of this employment, particularly in light of the findings arising from the Indecon review. You can read our full summary and analysis of the employment figures here.

Job Vacancy – Social Policy Analyst

One Family is recruiting for an experienced Social Policy Analyst to deliver a Practice to Policy response in line with our Strategic Plan 2016-2018. One Family is at the forefront of policy and research on issues relevant to one-parent families, those sharing parenting and families in transition; and associated areas including education, housing, poverty, family law, employment and others. We are regularly invited to participate in and contribute to expert panels at home and internationally.

Please read the full job description here: Social Policy Analyst November 2017

Application Procedure: 

A cover letter and CV addressing the required competencies should be emailed to Karen Kiernan, CEO, One Family at info@onefamily.ie.

Your application should be marked clearly One Family Social Policy Analyst 

Closing date for applications is 5pm on Thursday 30 November 2017. First and second round interviews will be held on Tuesday 5 December and Friday 8 December 2017 respectively.


Policy | Most Recent Employment Figures from CSO

The Quarterly National Household Survey released today by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) reveals the most recent employment statistics for the period April-June (Q2) 2017. One Family has analysed the findings in relation to people who are parenting alone.

  • In Q2 2017, the employment rate of lone parents (aged 15-64) was 58.5% (up 2.1% from 56.4%). This compares with 73.9 % (up 0.9% from 73.0%) for the adult members of couples without children and 76% (up 3.9% from 72.1%) for the adult members of couples with children.
  • The employment rate of lone parents (aged 15-64) whose youngest child was aged 0 to 5 years was 46.8% (up 0.8% from 46.0%) in Q2 2017 compared to 59.8 % (up 2.6% from 57.2%) where the youngest child was aged 6 to 11, and 65.6% (up 9.2% from 56.4%) where the youngest child was aged 12 to 17. This indicates that, as children get older, the prohibitive costs of childcare are reduced and lone parents are more likely to engage in work.
  • There were 6,400 (down 1,400 from 7,500) lone parents classified as long-term unemployed in Q2 2017, compared to 22,400 (down 12,000 from 34,400) adult members of couples with children classified as long-term unemployed in the same period.
  • On average, 55.3% (up 1.2% from 54.1%) of lone parents were participating in the labour market in Q2 2017. The participation rate of males in couples with children was 87.1% (down  0.7% from 87.8%) while the corresponding participation rate for females was 64.2% (down 0.2% from 64.4%). This dispels the myth that lone parents are not engaging in, and seeking, work outside the home.

One Family remains acutely concerned about the numbers of lone parents in precarious and low-paid employment, particularly since the reform of the One-Parent Family Payment that has pushed many lone parents into employment that has kept them and their children living in poverty.

The Survey on Income and Living Conditions (SILC) 2015 results released in January 2017 showed that 58% (almost three in five) of lone parent households with one or more children experienced enforced deprivation. This compares to 25% of the general population who experienced deprivation. People in lone parent households continue to have the lowest disposable income out of all households with children in the State.

The Indecon Independent Review of the Amendments to the One-parent Family Payment since January 2012, released last Monday, showed that 63% of the respondents in full-time employment stated that they cannot afford 3+ items on the deprivation list, meaning that they are most definitely experiencing deprivation daily, and in-work poverty.

Further Quarterly National Household Survey information from the CSO is available here.

Policy | Update from the Policy Desk

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

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

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

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

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

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

Policy | Update from the Policy Desk

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

The Policy Service has been very busy over the summer. We attended the Social Inclusion Forum in June with a member of our volunteer Policy Panel who is parenting alone. The Forum encourages discussion on social inclusion issues between officials from Government Departments, Community and Voluntary Organisations and people experiencing poverty. In July, we developed our Pre-Budget Submission and attended the Pre-Budget Forum hosted by the Department of Social Protection.This year our submission is focussed on in-work supports, childcare, housing, child poverty, reforming our family law system and access to education.

One Family sits on the National Advisory Council on Children and Young People which was set up to ensure the implementation of Better Outcomes, Brighter Futures: The National Policy Framework for Children and Young People 2014-2020. From its outset, the Advisory Council identified child poverty as the single biggest concern that impacts on children’s lives. In October 2015, a child poverty subgroup was established comprised of both statutory and non-governmental (NGO) representatives, including One Family. In July this year we officially launched a document on child poverty that puts forward real solutions that can help Government to meet their commitment to lift over 100,000 children out of poverty by 2020 and we issued this press release. You can read more about the work of the Advisory Council in its latest ezine update.

This month, part of the Affordable Childcare Scheme commences. One Family has met with officials in the Department of Children & Youth Affairs (DCYA) to ensure that the new scheme specifically acknowledges the needs of families we work with and represent. We provide information about what childcare supports you may be able to access here, and the Department’s information site is here.

Our askonefamily helpline can also provide information on 1890 66 22 12 / 01 662 9212.

Policy | New Initiatives for Lone Parent Access to Higher Level Education

The Department of Education has today issued a review completed by academics at Maynooth University which sought to identify the barriers lone parents face in accessing higher level education. The review also examined the trends in participation and completion rates by lone parents in higher education and the range of measures that are currently available to support lone parents. One Family was consulted as part of this process as a representative stakeholder group.

The recommendations of the Report echo One Family’s recent Pre-Budget Submission. Lone parents need additional supports that recognise their parenting responsibilities in order to access educational opportunities.

A summary of the key findings from the report is below:

  • Lone parents have attracted considerable policy attention in welfare and education and training, but much less specific attention has been paid to lone parents in higher education and seeking to widen access for these families.
  • Key areas of social policy which are impacting on access to education include One Parent Family Payment (OFP) reform, housing, and childcare policy.
  • Some lone parents are likely to experience considerable challenges in meeting the costs of attending college, paying rent, raising a family, working, and paying for childcare. These financial constraints are likely to influence decision-making around attending higher education either on a part-time or full-time basis.
  • While the maintenance portion of SUSI education grants only provides a contribution towards the costs of participating in education, because lone parents have higher living costs than school leavers, the efficacy of the student grant is limited further.
  • The complexity of the current system of supports was also highlighted in the report, including the inadequate dissemination of information, guidance and awareness raising to lone parents regarding the ‘bundles’ of supports that are offered by different government departments and agencies. Intreo case workers also require more training and awareness in this area.

Based on these findings the following recommendations have been made to Government to increase lone parents’ participation in education at third level:

  • The maintenance grant contribution by SUSI must be reviewed and increased for all students, and particularly for lone parents.
  • Lone parents who have transferred to BTEA were highlighted as the most economically vulnerable group among lone parent welfare recipients. The re-instatement of the student grant scheme – maintenance grant – for this group would create a more equitable, less complicated and targeted approach for supporting lone parents in higher education.
  • Meeting the needs of lone parents should be part of the ethos of each Higher Education Institutions (HEI). This needs to be very explicitly stated by colleges and universities who have the responsibility of welcoming lone parents into its campus and giving them the tools and supports to succeed.
  • Provide additional funding for lone parents either in the form of cash transfers or in the form of universal scholarships for lone parents within HEIs
  • Measures introduced under the proposed Affordable Childcare Scheme should be articulated in a clear and meaningful way to lone parents, HEIs, lone parent representative groups and Intreo case workers. It is also important that all lone parents, irrespective of welfare entitlements, or if they are studying part-time or full-time have access to supported childcare.

The full report  ‘An Independent Review to Identify the Supports and Barriers for Lone Parents in Accessing Higher Education and to Examine Measures to Increase Participation’  is available here.

Following publication of the report, the Minister for Education and Skills, Richard Bruton, TD, and the Minister of State for Higher Education, Mary Mitchell O’Connor, TD, have announced €16.5m for new initiatives to widen access to higher education over the next three years, and declared a focus on helping lone parents to access higher level education.

The initiatives, according to the Department of Education and Skills, are:

  • Funding bursaries worth €5,000 for 600 students coming from non-traditional backgrounds into college, with support for at least 120 socio-economically disadvantaged lone parents. This will be a €6m regional call over three years.
  • Funding for support programmes to help 2,000 students, of which 200 will be lone parents, from non-traditional backgrounds enter college and successfully complete their course. This will be a €7.5m regional call over three years.
  • A further €3m over three years in increased funding for the hardship supports to help students, with lone parents being prioritised.
  • The groups being targeted include: entrants from under-represented socio-economic groups and communities; entrants with disabilities; mature entrants; members of the Irish Traveller community; students entering on the basis of a further education award; part-time flexible learners; as well as socio-economically disadvantaged lone parents and ethnic minorities.

While these initiatives are to be welcomed, we call on Government to take further action on the recommendations contained in this comprehensive Report and in our Pre-Budget Submission, and to ensure that appropriate budgetary decisions are made in the coming weeks to support these measures.

Policy | One Family’s Budget 2018 Recommendations

Ahead of the annual Pre-Budget Forum taking place today, One Family joined with Barnardos, Children’s Rights Alliance, National Youth Council of Ireland and the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul to call on Government to ensure Budget 2018 includes key provisions to tackle child poverty as we are deeply concerned that one in nine children in Ireland remain in consistent poverty. We believe not enough is being done to remedy this. You can read our jointly issued press release here.

One Family’s Pre-Budget Submission 2018 targets child poverty as, according to SILC (2008-2015), children in one-parent households are almost four times more likely to live in consistent poverty than those in two-parent households. Our Submission also focuses on in-work supports to make work pay. Reforms of the One-Parent family Payment (OFP) have resulted in only marginal increases in employment rates for some one-parent families, a reduction in employment for those children over 12, and higher rates and child poverty and deprivation in these families. The other areas we focus on are:

  • Housing & Homelessness,
  • Access to Education & Training,
  • Early Years, Out-of-School and Afterschool Childcare, and
  • Family Law Courts Reform.

You can read our Pre-Budget Submission 2018, which includes our analysis and recommendations, on this link.





Policy | Back to School Clothing & Footwear Allowance Increase Welcomed

One Family welcomes the 25% increase in the Back to School Clothing & Footwear Allowance (BTSCFA) for children announced by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar yesterday as outgoing Minister for Social Protection.

One Family called for an increase in the Allowance as part of our joint NGO Submission on Child Poverty and in our 2017 Pre- Budget Submission. This increase will make a difference to one-parent families on low incomes who struggle to meet high back to school costs for their children. We hope that the incoming Taoiseach will continue to take affirmative steps in ensuring that government meets its target to lift over 100,000 children out of consistent poverty by 2020.

Information about the Allowance, including how to apply, is available here on the Citizen’s Information website. It is now open for 2017 with a closing date for applications of 30 September 2017.

Policy | Submission on Actions to Achieve Child Poverty Reduction Target

One Family welcomes the launch of a document on child poverty that puts forward real solutions to Government to end child poverty in all its forms. Developed under the auspices of the National Advisory Council on Children and Young People by a subgroup of members including One Family, it offers recommendations that can help Government to meet their commitment to lift 97,000 children out of poverty by 2020.

Recent statistics from the Survey on Income and Living Conditions (SILC 2015) showed that children living in one-parent families had the highest consistent poverty rate at 26.2%, an increase from 25% in 2014. This is compared to a consistent poverty rate of 7.7% for two-parent households. This means that children living in these households are almost four times more likely to be experiencing consistent poverty on a daily basis.

Consistent poverty means that children are living in households with incomes below €229 per week and experiencing deprivation such as not being able to replace worn shoes and going without heating through lack of money.

This paper recommends changes across a range of State services including health, education, social protection and family services.

From its outset, the National Advisory Council on Children and Young People has identified child poverty as the single biggest concern that impacts across all aspects of children’s lives, denies them their rights, and limits their life chances in many ways. In October 2015, a child poverty subgroup was established under the auspices of the Advisory Council under Better Outcomes, Brighter Futures. The subgroup comprises both statutory and non-governmental (NGO) representatives, including One Family, and was co-convened by the Department of Social Protection and the Children’s Rights Alliance.

The NGO representatives on this subgroup – Barnardos, the Children’s Rights Alliance, the National Youth Council of Ireland, One Family and the Society of St. Vincent de Paul – have developed this paper to inform the whole of Government approach to tackling the number of children in consistent poverty.

While the Better Outcomes, Brighter Futures Policy Framework includes an ambitious target to reduce the incidence of child poverty by 2020, the reality is that the situation is getting worse, not better.  Therefore, the Advisory Council believes that there is a need for both statutory and non-statutory bodies to redouble their efforts towards the reversal of this negative trend.  This new paper will contribute to this aim.

You can read the paper here.

Policy | United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW)

The United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) is an international human rights treaty which is often described as a bill of rights for women.

CEDAW sets out what governments must do to improve the situation of women living in the country, including addressing gender stereotyping and violence against women, promotion of gender equality in public life and protection of women’s rights to education, health and employment.

By ratifying CEDAW in 1985, Ireland agreed to take concrete steps to end gender-based discrimination and improve the situation of all women living here.

Ireland’s record under the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) was examined at a hearing in Geneva on 15 February 2017. Ireland was last before the Committee in 2005. The CEDAW Committee published its Concluding Observations on Ireland on March 6th.

Key observations and recommendations by the Committee which impact on people parenting alone, sharing parenting, or separating include the establishment of a statutory maintenance authority, improved access to services for victims of domestic violence, amendment of current abortion legislation and examining the impact of austerity on disadvantaged women:

  • Amend article 41.2 of the Constitution in order to remove the stereotypical language on the role of women in the home.
  • Amend the Eighth Amendment which impedes the introduction of amendments to current legislation governing access to abortion.
  • Repeal the Regulation of Information Act of 1995 in order to ensure free access to sexual and reproductive health information and education; and that healthcare providers, physicians and pregnancy counsellors do not operate under a constant fear that their services may be subject to criminal investigation and prosecution.
  • Ensure the provision of post-abortion health-care services for women irrespective of whether they have undergone an illegal or legal abortion.
  • Conduct prompt, independent and thorough investigations, in line with international human rights standards, into all allegations of abuse in Magdalene laundries, children’s institutions, Mother and Baby homes, and symphysiotomy.
  • Intensify existing efforts to combat gender-based violence against women, including domestic violence, by ensuring that prosecutors and the police are properly trained to identify, investigate and prosecute cases of gender-based violence, including domestic violence, particularly targeting Traveller, Roma and migrant women and girls.
  • Increase funding for civil legal aid services, review the financial eligibility criteria and end the requirement for victims of domestic violence to make financial contributions for civil legal aid.
  • Intensify its efforts to guarantee equal opportunities for women in the labour market and create more opportunities for women to gain access to full-time employment.
  • Address the impact of austerity measures on social benefits for women, particularly disadvantaged women.
  • Undertake research on the economic consequences of divorce on both spouses, with specific attention to the differences in spouses’ earning potential and human capital, particularly focusing on whether judges take these factors into account in their decisions.
  • Consider establishing a statutory maintenance authority and prescribing amounts for child maintenance in order to reduce the burden of women to litigate for child maintenance orders.

Valerie Maher, One Family Policy & Progammes Manager comments “It is clear from the above observations that while positive actions taken by Government to date have been acknowledged, there is still a significant amount of work that needs to be undertaken to improve the lives of women. Policy and legislation will need to incorporate the above recommendations going forward in order to achieve positive benefits for women in Ireland.”

The full report is available on the UN website

Policy | Children in Direct Provision Share Equal Rights with All Children in Ireland

One Family welcomes the announcement by The Ombudsman for Children, Dr Niall Muldoon, that children in Direct Provision will now share equal rights with other children in Ireland, with equal access to the Ombudsman for Children’s Office which will enable the Office to make a constructive contribution to the overall welfare of children living in Direct Provision accommodation.

Minister for Justice and Equality, Frances Fitzgerald has confirmed that legal issues have been clarified around the remit of the Ombudsman for Children’s Office to accept complaints about children in Direct Provision, according to the Ombudsman for Children’s Office.

Through One Family’s work with families living in Direct Provision, we are aware of the multiple difficulties they are facing. It is imperative that the voices of these children are heard and understood. We will continue to call for equality for all children living in Ireland.