Press Release: Tsumani of separations/divorce on the way with little or no support available

In 2020 there was a 20% increase in demand for One Family’s services for lone parent and separating families including 17% increase in demand for Parenting during Separation courses

 

Press Release

Ireland is facing a tsunami of separation and divorce following the pandemic and family law and support services are not prepared according to One Family – Ireland’s national organisation for people parenting alone, sharing parenting and separating. The charity, commenting at the launch of its Annual Review for 2020, said demand for its specialised family support services dramatically increased in 2020 with a 20% rise in client services and a 17% increase in demand for its parenting during separation courses.

One Family CEO, Karen Kiernan said, “For many separated families the pandemic and lockdowns acted as a pressure cooker exasperating old grievances and increasing conflict. There was a huge increase in calls from parents in distress (68% increase in calls to the askonefamily helpline in Q2 2020 compared with the same period in 2019) as issues of relationship breakdown, access, guardianship and child maintenance coincided with reduced access to courts services; leading to increased conflict and mental distress. We worked to support parents and we provided information guides, advocated on behalf of parents, and brought all our services on-line affectively bringing our services to every county. But this demand for services, particularly our mediation and Tusla funded Separating Well for Children service, has meant services are now extremely stressed and we are worried about a future surge as families struggle with family breakdown.”

Geraldine Kelly, One Family Director of Parenting Services said, “What we found is that support services are there in local communities if you have a parenting issue or if you are separating amicably but if there is conflict, or legal issues, which is often the case, specialist services are very hard to find.  Currently, we are receiving calls from support services across the country looking to refer families to us and we are trying to accommodate them. But we have limited resources and demand is so high. This leaves many families in crisis waiting longer than we would like. At the moment, we have with a six-month waiting list for Separating Well for Children and eighteen-month wait for counselling services; when your family is in crisis this is a long-time. Any delay can increase the level of conflict in the family and impact greatly on the wellbeing of children and parents.”

One Family CEO, Karen Kiernan said, “We need to see a commitment from Government to provide funding in local communities for separating families, people sharing parenting and particularly for those in conflict. There is a tsunami approaching which will have a knock-on effect on children and families unless we prepare now.”

 

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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 0818 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 0818 66 22 12 or 01-6629212.

Link to One Family Annual Review:

Two case studies of how One Family supported families during the pandemic:

For further information visit: https://onefamily.ie/

Available for Interview

Karen Kiernan, CEO | t: 086 850 9191

Further Information/Scheduling

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

NGO Alliance calls for urgent action in Budget 2022 to loosen poverty’s grip on one parent families

Press Release, Tuesday 5th October 2021

The National One Parent Family Alliance (NOPFA) has today called for Budget 2022 to prioritise one parent families. Launching the Alliance’s pre-budget priorities, Chair of the Alliance, Karen Kiernan of One Family said:

“Years of reports, research and evidence has confirmed what we already know from frontline services – One-parent families and their children are the group most at risk of poverty and social exclusion in Ireland today. We are now a week away from Budget day. Now is not the time for half-measures but to act so another generation isn’t lost to poverty. We are not calling for anything radical, but for the Minister to look at the evidence and to act accordingly.”

NOFPA’s ‘Budget 2022 Priorities’ submission contains 5 key asks for government that if acted upon, could result in real change for one parent families in Budget 2022.

  1. Ensure our social protection system recognises the additional caring responsibilities of those parenting alone

Tricia Keilthy, Society of St. Vincent de Paul said: “Lone parents continue to be more at risk of poverty and deprivation and more likely to be in low paying, insecure jobs. These very high levels of poverty have persisted through boom and bust. While recent budgets have tried to unwind previous disastrous cuts, more is needed to recognise the financial and practical challenges of parenting alone. We are calling on government to extend Jobseekers Transition Payment to parents in work, education or training until their youngest child reaches the end of second level education in acknowledgement that lone parents caring responsibilities do not end when a child turns 14”.

  1. Guarantee early years and childcare policies supports the needs of children in one parent families

NOPFA calls for investment over a series of budgets to deliver a public model of early years care and education with free childcare for children in one parent families and disadvantaged circumstances” continued Sandra McCullagh of the National Women’s Council. “However, there is action that can be taken in this year’s Budget – An additional allocation of hours under the National Childcare Scheme would acknowledge the challenges a lone parent faces. In addition, parental leave assumes a two-parent family as the norm and so lone parents do not have the same level of support under the scheme as two parent families and this needs to be rectified”

  1. Recognise and respond effectively to the heightened risk of homelessness and housing insecurity experienced by one parent families

One parent families are disproportionately impacted by the housing crisis, according to Louise Bayliss of Focus Ireland: “We know that one parent families are more likely to experience homelessness, are at a significant disadvantage when it comes to affordability issues and are more vulnerable to housing quality problems such as damp and lack of central heating. Homelessness is devastating for families – it causes trauma and can do life-long damage to the health and well-being of children and parents. Budget 2022 must recognise the unique needs of one parent families and include targeted and real measures to help them. We are calling for the establishment of a specific taskforce to review the impact of housing insecurity on one parent families and develop appropriate solutions”.

  1. Reduce child poverty by decoupling child maintenance from social protection payments

“Structural issues in our child maintenance system are leaving one parent families at greater risk of poverty and we are eagerly awaiting the recommendations of the Child Maintenance Review Group”, continued Louise Bayliss.  “However, changes can be made now to how the Department of Social Protection (DSP) treats child maintenance which would increase its poverty reduction impact. Child Maintenance should be fully decoupled from social protection payments and be treated as a non-means-tested, non-taxable income for children, as with Child Benefit, to support one parent families out of poverty.”

  1. Provide sustainable routes out of poverty by facilitating access to education and training

Lone parents face multiple barriers to accessing education and worryingly, lone parents’ participation in education has actually decreased in recent years”, continued Tricia Keilthy. The SUSI grant scheme is an integral support but restrictions in accessing it exclude many lone parents. We are calling for SUSI to be made available to all lone parents engaging in education regardless of the age of their youngest child, irrespective of their housing tenure or whether they are studying part time or full time so that lone parents can be truly supported to access further education”

ENDS

About the National One Parent Family Alliance

The National One Parent Family Alliance comprises nine national organisations including Barnardos, Children’s Rights Alliance, One Family, FLAC, Focus Ireland, National Women’s Council, Society of St. Vincent de Paul, SPARK, and Treoir. This Alliance was established in 2020 in response to the unequal impact the COVID-19 pandemic is having on one-parent families and a shared concern about the high levels of poverty experienced by lone parents and their children.

NOPFA pre-budget priorities can be seen here: LINK

The following spokespersons are available for interview:

Karen Kiernan, One Family – 086 8509191

Tricia Keilthy, SVP – 086 4109302

Sandra McCullagh, NWC – 087 7404891

Louise Bayliss, Focus Ireland – 086 061 2060

Press Release: HSE move on vaccination centre access for parents without childcare welcomed

One Family, Ireland’s national organisation for people parenting alone, sharing parenting and separating has welcomed the decision by the HSE for vaccination centres to accommodate parents who have no one to look after children. The decision comes following weeks of work by One Family and following incidents of parents with children being turned away from vaccination centres.

One Family CEO Karen Kiernan said, “While it would be better if children were not brought to vaccination centres, this simply is not possible for all parents. We are pleased the HSE have listened to us and to the real experience of parents and now have a system in place for those minority of parents who must bring their children particularly as it comes at a time when younger parents are being vaccinated and schools are on holiday.”

Ms Kiernan continued, “We’d encourage parents who have a vaccination appointment and have no one to mind their child to phone HSELive on 1800 700 700. We have been assured by the HSE that vaccination centres will work with parents to arrange an alternative. We’d ask parents who have tried the number and are having issues to let us know on 016629212 and we will follow up with the HSE.”

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HSE guidelines:

https://www2.hse.ie/screening-and-vaccinations/covid-19-vaccine/get-the-vaccine/going-to-a-vaccination-centre/

If you have no one to mind your child

Phone HSELive on 1800 700 700 and ask for a new appointment if you cannot get anyone to mind your child while you get your vaccine.

If you cannot get anyone to mind your child, at any time, and you must bring them with you, phone HSE Live. They will work with your vaccination centre team to find the safest time that you can attend with your child.

Your child will need to stay with you at all times. You will need to give contact details for an emergency contact who can collect your child if you become unwell after your vaccine.

About One Family:

One Family is Ireland’s organisation for people parenting alone, sharing parenting and 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 askonefamily national helpline on 01-662 9212, counselling, and provision of training courses for parents and for professionals.

Available for Interview

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

Further Information/Scheduling

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

Press release: Children’s rights should guide family law reform.

Children’s rights should guide family law reform.

Courts should be last resort for separating families, where there are no safety concerns.

 

Wednesday 2 June 2021

A webinar on family law reform has been told children’s rights should guide family law reform. The Building a Family Law System for Children webinar hosted by One Family, heard from national and international experts with panellists from the Department of Justice, Courts Service, academia from the UK and Ireland and a High Court Judge from Northern Ireland.

Dr Jan Ewing of the University of Exeter’s Law School and member of the Family Solutions Group which authored the report “What about me?”) said, “Ireland has the opportunity to learn from the experience and mistakes of England and Wales to create a world-class family law system centred on the rights, needs and safety of the child. Where there are safety issues, these must be prioritised and accessible, affordable access to legal advice and the Family Court are needed. However, in the absence of safety or other welfare concerns, court should be a last resort for parenting disputes. Instead, parents need access to information, advice and well-signposted support to help them to look beyond their relationship issues and toward the rights and needs of their child and the child’s right to have a relationship with both parents.”

Dr Stephanie Holt from Trinity College Dublin said, “In domestic violence the perpetrator targets the whole family. However, our family law system focuses on the perpetrator and immediate victim, failing to understand what it is like to be a child and live with domestic violence and abuse. In reforming family law we must challenge the myth that it is possible to be an abusive partner and a good father; this is simply is not true. Doing so however involves prioritising children’s voice and children’s rights and ensuring mechanisms are in place so the voice of the child is understood at every step of the process.”

Karen Kiernan CEO of One Family said, “We know from our work with families that they are often traumatised from going through the adversarial family courts and this can cause long-lasting damage to children. We strongly advocate for a Family Law Service Model to be developed alongside the new legislation to provide assessments, safety and family supports to families before and during court. When families separate or have issues that need to be agreed, the first responder shouldn’t be a solicitor – instead child-focussed, affordable supports should be available locally”.

Emer Darcy, Head of Family Law Reform, The Courts Service said, “The Courts Service is looking forward to continuing to collaborate with One Family as we progress with our Modernisation Programme to deliver better outcomes for all our users including children and families.”

About One Family:

One Family is Ireland’s organisation for people parenting alone, sharing parenting and 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 askonefamily national helpline on 01-662 9212, counselling, and provision of training courses for parents and for professionals.

For further information visit: www.onefamily.ie.

Services such as our Tusla-funded, Separating Well for Children project show the depth of demand that exists from people going through the private family law system. This project deescalates the conflict within the family using mediation, parenting support as well as creative therapies for children, allowing parents to put aside their own grievances and focus on the welfare of their children.

Available for Interview

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

Further Information/Scheduling

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