Opportunity or Threat? Reforms for One-parent Families Must Provide Real Opportunities and Choices

One-parent family organisation One Family (formerly Cherish) welcomed the decision by the Minister to engage in a process of consultation around the proposals launched today to support one-parent and other low-income families.

One Family believes it is crucial that the proposed reforms offer realistic choices for families. According to the report, one-parent families dependent on social welfare will not receive any payment increases under the proposed new Parental Allowance. In fact, the income disregard level currently in place will decrease slightly. Therefore, those dependent on the payment with children up to the age of seven are likely to continue to be caught in a vicious cycle of poverty.

The preferred option in the report is then the complete removal of the proposed Parental Allowance after the youngest child reaches the age of seven. After that, those parenting alone who are not accessing employment, education or training will be moved on to unemployment assistance. One Family Policy and Campaigns Manager Candy Murphy said that ‘we are particularly concerned that the reforms may create a situation where one-parent families are likely to then face a difficult choice of continuing in poverty or returning to work on a full-time basis, regardless of their ongoing caring responsibilities.’

One Family believes that the reforms will only benefit one-parent families if there is a coordinated strategy and real cooperation between departments and state agencies. In particular, FÁS and the Department for Education must review their provision so that skills-based courses, educational qualifications and financial supports are provided on a more flexible basis, allowing for greater take up by one-parent families.

Commenting on the reforms, One Family Director Karen Kiernan said ‘it has been shown that employment is one of the main routes out of poverty, however, any efforts to support solo parents into employment must recognise that 60 per cent of those on the current payment are already working but are trapped in low-skilled, low-paid, part-time employment. Helping one-parent families to move out of poverty requires a range of supports and related funding that will help these families to take up sustainable employment. Such supports include access to affordable, quality childcare, skills-based education and training, and the removal of social welfare poverty traps. Unfortunately, the report provides little detail on how the issue of affordable childcare for low-income families will be effectively addressed.’

For further information contact:
Ruth Coleman 01 662 9212/086 174 2315 or Candy Murphy 01 662 9212/0872933180


* 60 per cent of recipients of the One Parent Family Payment were in employment, more than half of whom were earning less than €150 per week.
* 47 per cent of those on the payment have below Leaving Certificate qualifications.
* 50 per cent of those on the payment have children under 8 years of age.
* 60 per cent of those on the payment have only one child.

Positive Parenting Comes to Limerick

One-parent family organisation One Family (formerly Cherish) today announced that they will be running their innovative Positive Parenting: Training for Trainers course in Limerick. The course provides all those working with families with the tools to design and deliver effective and life-changing parenting courses.

Covering the development of a ten-week Positive Parenting Programme, the training will allow those working with families to effectively support parents in developing successful parenting strategies. Already working for hundreds of professionals around Ireland, this course is a unique programme with a particular focus on one-parent families.

One Family Director, Karen Kiernan stressed the crucial importance of supporting all parents and families. ‘The Positive Parenting Manual which forms the basis of our Positive Parenting course is the only Irish parenting resource to also address the specific needs of this very diverse group of families. We have organised the training in Limerick to help professionals support the large numbers of non-traditional families in Limerick.’

At One Family we know that families come in all shapes and sizes and in all circumstances. So, in addition to looking at key issues facing families as they parent, it also provides additional modules covering topics such as multicultural parenting and bullying, allowing workers to develop a course that suits the needs and situation of their particular clients.

Notes for Editors:

* There are nearly 7,000 one-parent families in Limerick.
* The percentage of one-parent families in Limerick City is 16 per cent, above the national average of 11.4 per cent.
* Births outside marriage account for more than half of all births in Limerick city at 54 per cent, compared with a national average of 32 per cent, and are the highest rate of any city.
* The percentage of one-parent families living in Limerick County is 10 per cent.
* The percentage of births to under 20s in Limerick city is twice the national average at 8 per cent, compared with 4 per cent nationally, and is the highest rate in any Irish city.

Course duration: 3 days, Cost: €300.
A copy of the Positive Parenting Manual worth €150 is included in the cost of the training.
To book your place contact the Training and Consultancy Service on 01 662 9212 or email us at training@onefamily.ie

For further information contact:
Ruth Coleman 01 662 9212/086 174 2315 or
Karen Kiernan 01 662 9212/086 850 9191

All Families Not the Same Means All Families Not Equal

One-parent family organisation One Family (formerly Cherish) today called on the Government to look beyond the limitations of today’s All-Party Oireachtas Committee Report on the Constitution and to shape a Constitution that reflects the diversity of family life in Ireland today.

Commenting on the report One Family Director, Karen Kiernan noted that ‘the review of the Constitution is a real chance for Ireland to support all of its families equally. We welcome moves to ensure that all children will be equal before the law and that ‘regard shall be had to the best interests of that child’, but the Constitution needs to go beyond this, to ensure that the welfare of the child shall be the paramount consideration in all proceedings concerning the child’s best interests.

Full equality for children requires that the State acknowledges and supports all families from which children hail, regardless of the form that such families take. The failure to expand the definition of family is effectively declaring that children in non-marital families are second class citizens in second class families. This is clearly unacceptable. We urge the Government to reconsider the recommendations made in the 1996 review of the Constitution to broaden and redefine the term “family”.’

According to One Family Chairperson, Dr Fergus Ryan, ‘it is possible to support marriage while simultaneously acknowledging and celebrating the contributions made by parents and children in one-parent families and we strongly disagree that an extension of the definition of the family would ‘cause deep and long-lasting division in our society’. The failure to acknowledge the diversity of family life in Ireland in our Constitution brings Ireland into conflict with its obligations under international law, particularly in relation to Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which requires the State to respect private and family life, home and correspondence of all persons resident in Ireland. The decision to take a legislative rather than a Constitutional route also poses a serious problem and we run a serious risk of any legislation stemming from the Committee’s recommendations being unenforceable if it conflicts with the Constitution.’

One Family welcomes greater choice for families, whereby ‘the State shall endeavour to ensure both parents shall not be obliged by economic necessity to work outside the home to the neglect of their parental duties’. One Family calls on the Government to clarify what such a change will mean for one-parent families, and how such new rights will be reflected in the current policy reviews of the One Parent Family Payment and Lone Parents and Poverty. We welcome the recommendation that ‘legislation to promote the welfare of children should have a special concern to secure adequate resources for lone-parent families.’ We look forward to seeing this being reflected in these key policy reviews.

For further information contact:
Ruth Coleman 01 662 9212/086 174 2315 or Karen Kiernan 01 662 9212/086 850 9191
For legal comment agus as Gaeilge Dr Fergus Ryan 086 8534761

One Family made a submission to the All-Party Oireachtas Committee on the Constitution in February 2005 calling on the review to achieve the following objectives.

1. To displace the privileged position of the marital family by the recognition of alternative family forms.
2. To place the child and his or her interests at the heart of our family law policy and to make practical efforts to realise this aim.
3. To bring Irish law into line with the ECHR by placing an obligation on the state to respect and support family life in all its manifestations and to create laws which reflect the realities of the diversity of family life in modern Ireland.

In order to proffer a way forward in reforming the Constitution to take into consideration the variety and diversity of families and the needs for equality of treatment under the law and to increase the visibility of the protection of the rights of children, regardless of their family situation, One Family suggested the following addendum to Article 42:

Article 42A

1. Notwithstanding any other provision of this Constitution, the State guarantees to respect and shall endeavour to support all families in the State, regardless of the form that such families may take, and to protect and defend the rights of all individuals who are members of those families.
2. Notwithstanding any other provision of this Constitution, the State guarantees in particular, and as far as practicable, to assist and support all parents and guardians in promoting the best interests of the child. In so doing, the State shall promote the welfare of the child as the paramount consideration in all proceedings concerning the child’s best interests.
3. The State shall in particular, endeavour to assist and support parents and guardians, as far as practicable, in securing for all children a basic quality of life and in particular food, clothing, education and accommodation sufficient to his or her needs.