Policy | UN to Examine Irish Government on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women

The Irish Government will be examined by the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) in Geneva tomorrow, 15 February 2017. Ireland’s compliance with the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women will be reviewed for the first time in 12 years. The Gender Equality Division of the Department of Justice and Equality oversees the preparation of Ireland’s periodic reports to CEDAW.

One Family supports the recommendations made to the Committee by the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC), particularly in relation to the impact of austerity and low pay on women and the call for appropriate redress to be made available to women who suffered abuses within Magdalene Laundries and mother and baby homes. IHREC also highlighted the need for the State to  revise its legislation on abortion in line with international human rights standards.  IHREC’s recommendations can be read here.

One Family also supports the Equality Budgeting Campaign’s recommendations which highlight the impacts of the One-Parent Family Payment reforms, the disproportionate levels of poverty and deprivation experienced by women in lone parent households, the lack of a statutory child maintenance authority and the urgent need for equality and gender proofing in advance of budgetary and policy decisions. They can be read here.

Ireland last submitted its combined 4th and 5th Reports in 2003, on which it was examined in 2004. Ireland will be scrutinised  by the Committee on its compliance with UN standards on protecting women and girls from discrimination. The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) was adopted in 1979 by the UN General Assembly and is “often described as an international bill of rights for women” (UN.org). Read more about CEDAW here.


Policy | Ireland’s First National Shared Parenting Survey: Results & Recommendations

SPResults_Cover Image_LRIn 2016, One Family devised and conducted Ireland’s first national Shared Parenting Survey in response to a lack of public debate and narrative around shared parenting in modern Ireland. Over one thousand women and men who share parenting, or who have attempted to, responded.

The results have been analysed, and we are pleased to now publish a report entitled Ireland’s First National Shared Parenting Survey: Results & Recommendations which can be read or downloaded by clicking on the image on the left.

Key findings include:

  • The majority of respondents whose child does not live with them most of time, spend time with their child on a weekly basis.
  • While almost 27% of respondents arranged this time amicably between them, for almost 51% it was agreed with difficulty, through mediation or court ordered.
  • 62% of respondents whose child lives with them most or all of the time stated that their child’s other parent contributes financially to their child’s costs; 38% stated that the other parent does not contribute financially.
  • Just over 50% of respondents stated that they do not make decisions jointly on issues that impact on their child(ren).
  • Over 34% of respondents have attended mediation.

One Family extends its sincere gratitude to each of the parents who took the time to share their personal experiences. This report draws directly from their survey responses and includes many of their comments. One Family believes that their honesty and openness will help to make Ireland a better place to share parenting in the future.

Policy | Submission to the Citizen’s Assembly on the 8th Amendment

OFOne Family has sent a submission to the Citizen’s Assembly on the 8th Amendment.

One Family believes that the presence of the 8th Amendment causes real harm to the women and families whom One Family supports. It leads to the greater likelihood of later and less safe abortion; of women self aborting with pills on their own in isolation; of poorer physical and mental health; of increased shame, stigma and stress.

This amendment and subsequent legislation including the 1995 Information Act and the 2014 Protection of Life in Pregnancy Act has resulted in an extremely regulated environment for women who need to access abortion services, for those who provide crisis pregnancy counselling and for those providing medical and health care to pregnant women. These legislative measures do not support women’s health care and a client-centred approach.

Based on One Family’s 44 years of work with vulnerable women the focus is always on the well being and safety of the clients. This is severely compromised by the various laws in relation to abortion and the regulation of pregnant women in Ireland.

One Family strongly recommends that the 8th Amendment is removed from our Constitution, that abortion is decriminalised and that the provision of an abortion becomes solely a health matter between a woman and her doctor.

You can read the full submission here

Policy | Impacts of Budget 2012 Still Felt Today

Five years ago today, on Tuesday 5 December 2011, former Ministers Joan Burton and Brendan Howlin rose in the Dáil to read out Budget 2012. None of us could have anticipated just how horrendous it would be for poor one-parent families, and how long-reaching the impacts of the cuts announced. There was no evidence of social policy planning behind the ‘reforms’ and the consequences have been that thousands more children have lived in higher levels of poverty and thousands of parents have lost jobs and incomes. Children living in one parent family households are almost twice as likely to live in poverty than other children; 23% of children in a one-parent family experience deprivation (SILC 2014).

Along with other organisations, One Family has successfully worked over the past five years to have some of these cuts reversed, but much of it was too little too late by Government. We summarised the negative impacts of consecutive Budgets for one-parent families in this document.

We now need to continue to work together to build a brighter future for all the children in Ireland living in one-parent families.




Policy | One Family’s Single Affordable Childcare Scheme Submission

One Family welcomed the opportunity to contribute to the Public Consultation on the Single Affordable Childcare Scheme last week. The Policy Paper on the Development of a New Single Affordable Childcare Scheme is a comprehensive document and we wish to acknowledge the extensive work undertaken by the Department of Children & Youth Affairs in compiling this paper. However, we wanted to highlight some areas of concern on behalf of people parenting alone and sharing parenting.

The key points from our submission are:

  • One Family would recommend that both child maintenance and Family Income Supplement be included in the list of income that will be excluded from the income assessment.
  • The requirement that only legally enforceable maintenance agreements should be deductable from household income is totally unworkable and does not reflect the lived reality of shared parenting arrangements. There are a number of families who have come to an amicable agreement regarding child maintenance payments, without the need to attend the family courts.
  • Lone parents have been disproportionately impacted by the housing crisis, almost 70% of homeless families are one-parent families which clearly indicates that these families are struggling to meet their housing costs. Allowing housing costs, in full or part, to be deductible from assessable income, would give a more realistic picture of the disposable net income of parents applying for childcare subsidies.
  • We would suggest that an urban weighting could be applied for families living in larger urban areas. For example, these families could receive 15% more in subsidies than those in smaller towns or rural areas.
  • There is currently no childcare infrastructure in place for children aged between 12 and 15 years. Essentially this means that while parents with older children may qualify for subsidies under the scheme, in reality they will be unable to access suitable childcare places that would support them to enter education or work.
  • Allow afterschool providers to be included in the new proposed scheme.
  • We are concerned regarding the removal of capped weekly fees for parents which are currently available under the ASCC and CETS schemes. Affirmative steps need to be taken to prevent providers from increasing their fees and passing this on to low income families.

Our submission in full can be read here.

Policy | Families and Societies in Europe

screen-shot-2016-11-28-at-15-52-07One Family acts as a stakeholder within the Families and Societies project which aims to investigate the diversity of family forms and relationships in Europe, to assess the compatibility of existing policies with family changes, and to contribute to evidence-based policy-making. The final conference of the project was held last month in Brussels. It aimed to provide an overview of the main achievements of the project since it began in February 2013. Representatives of the European Commission, the European Economic and Social Committee, and forty stakeholder organisations attended. Rea Lavelle, our Social Policy Analyst, attended for One Family.

The topic of children’s life chances was addressed by Juho Härkönen, Fabrizio Bernardi and Gerda Neyer, who discussed the impact of changing family dynamics, especially with regard to parental separation, on children’s present and future well-being. Kees Waaldijk, leading researcher of the Laws and Families Database, made a presentation of the database which will be completed in December 2016, and which will include information on legal aspects of co-residential partnerships for families across Europe. The last topic, gender changes and implications, was addressed by Jan Van Bavel and Melinda Mills who talked about the interplay of gender role changes and new family patterns, and of trends and policy implications regarding childlessness and assisted reproductive technologies, respectively.

Stakeholders are an integral part of the project; providing a link between the research outputs and how they can be translated into family policies across Europe. At One Family, we use our knowledge and expertise from over four decades working with families to highlight policy implications and to suggest appropriate and workable policy responses.

Policy | DSP will Review Changes to One Parent Family Payment

The Department of Social Protection agreed to review the changes to the One Parent Family Payment (OFP) at Committee stage of the Social Welfare Bill 2016 on Thursday 17 November.

It is essential that review of the OFP reform be carried out urgently, as One Family has consistently called for. A cohesive report on the potential outcomes should have been conducted prior to implementation which could have avoided the negative impacts experienced by a large number of lone parents in part-time work.

Family Income Supplement (FIS) will also be reviewed; a new proposed Working Family Payment was included in the Programme for Government last May.

The analysis of the State’s child poverty rates is immediately necessary. One in nine (11%) children aged 0-17  live in consistent poverty (SILC 2014). Children living in one-parent family households are almost twice as likely to live in poverty than other children, with 23% of children in a one-parent family experiencing deprivation.

The Back to Work Family Dividend (BTWFD) will also be reviewed. This is welcomed as the halving of this payment after one year, and suspension after two years, is clearly causing lone parents to be worse off in work. An improved longer term solution is needed.

1st Amendments:

(5) The Minister shall review the changes introduced to the One-Parent Family Payment in 2012 particularly in light of the report by Dr Millar and Dr Crosse on lone parents and activation and shall bring forward a report to the Committee on Social Protection on same within 3 months of this Bill being enacted.

(6) The Minister shall review the operation of the Family Income Supplement to see how it could be improved to encourage and facilitate people to re(enter) the workforce and shall bring forward a report to the Committee on Social Protection on same within 3 months of this Bill being enacted.

The first list of amendments can be found in full on this link.

2nd Amendments:

(1)Report on One-Parent Family Payment changes. That an independent report shall be conducted on the financial and social effects of the changes to the One-Parent Family Payment since 2015, taking account inter alia of poverty rates among those in receipt of the payment and that the report shall be presented to the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Social Welfare within six months of enactment of this Bill.

(2)That an analysis of the State’s child poverty rates is carried out annually and that an independent report shall be issued to the Minister and the Joint Oireachtas Committee on  Social Protection.

(3)Report on operation of Back to Work Family Dividend 14. That a report shall be issued to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Social Protection on the effects of the Back to Work Family Dividend to recipients and to include inter alia the poverty rates among those in receipt of this payment.

The second list of amendments can be found in full on this link.


Policy | FamiliesAndSocieties Third Annual Meeting

IMG_4617One Family acts as a stakeholder within the FamiliesAndSocieties project which aims to investigate the diversity of family forms, relationships, and life courses in Europe; to assess the compatibility of existing policies to family changes; and to contribute to evidence-based policy-making.

Stakeholders are an integral part of the project; providing a link between the research outputs and how they can be translated into family policies across Europe. One Family uses its knowledge and expertise from working with one-parent, shared parenting and separating families to highlight policy implications and to suggest appropriate and workable policy response.

Valerie Maher, our Policy & Programmes Manager, attended the third annual FamiliesAndSocieties meeting and stakeholder workshop earlier this year.

Some of the findings of FamiliesAndSocieties from February 2013 to December 2015 include:

  • Family forms have become more varied and individual and family life courses are increasingly diverse. We need to be aware of different family forms and treat them equally; policy to support children irrespective of family forms they live in is imperative.
  • Vulnerable families and their wellbeing – lone parents and large families are more “at risk” because the reconciliation of work and family is particularly challenging for them. This can lead to economic problems as well as impacting on social and emotional wellbeing (e.g. time pressure and stress, reduction of social contacts, less quality time with children).
  • Forces that might be crucial for the wellbeing of (vulnerable) families were often related to worklife balance (e.g. changes in institutional childcare provision, changing gender roles) as well as the role of the “culture of work” and employers’ attitudes towards family responsibilities of their employees.

You can read more about FamiliesAndSocieties here, including the outputs and results of the project to date.

Policy | Election Promises

onefamily_party_promises_web_sliderOne Family has been campaigning for equal rights for lone parents and those who are sharing parenting in the lead up to the election. The One Family election manifesto has six key points that need to be addressed by the next government to ensure these concerns are heard and dealt with.

  1. Work to end child poverty in Ireland.
  2. Ensure that work pays for everyone.
  3. Undertake a full review of the One Family Payment Reforms.
  4. Support shared parenting.
  5. Recognise and protect all families in the Constitution, not just married families.
  6. Invest in our family law courts and services.

We have analysed each party manifesto to identify their commitments to these six points in the document below.

Election Promises to One Family

Policy | Email Your Candidates to End Child Poverty and Review Reform of OPF Payment

With just one week to go until General Election 2016, we urge everyone to email their local candidates to ensure that one-parent families are on their agenda. We are calling for six key commitments which you can read about below.Election Manifesto 2016_1

Election Manifesto 2016_2

It’s easy to email all of your local candidates in just one minute; click here. You can also download two handy documents with questions and take away messages for candidates who call to your door, to help ensure that they know that these issues matter for all families in Ireland.

#GE2016 #EndChildPovery #MyFamilyMatters

Use the social share buttons below to ask your friends and family to support our Election Manifesto for one-parent families.