Press Release | Census 2016 Reflects the Real Diversity of Families in Today’s Modern Ireland

Press Release

Census 2016 Shows Increase in One-Parent Family Households and in People who are Divorced Reflecting the Real Diversity of Families in Today’s Modern Ireland

Government must step up with policies and services

(Dublin, Thursday 6th April 2017) One Family – Ireland’s organisation for people parenting alone, sharing parenting, and separating – responds to the latest Census 2016 figures released today by the Central Statistics Office (CSO).

The Census shows that there were 218,817 families in Ireland headed by one parent in 2016; an increase of over 3,500 families since Census 2011. The vast majority, 86.4%, were headed by women. Almost 90,000 of these parents indicated that they were single; a further 50,496 were widowed; and the remaining 68,378 were separated or divorced. Nationally, the number of divorced people in Ireland has increased from 87,770 in 2011 to 103,895 in 2016, an increase of 16,125 persons. This is an increase of over 44,000 people in the last ten years. In contrast, the number of people identifying as separated has levelled off and stood at 118,178. This is up marginally from 116,194 five years earlier.

One Family CEO Karen Kiernan comments: “There has been a 1.2% increase in the number of children living in one parent families with almost 1 in 5 children in Ireland (19.5%) now living in a one-parent family. This reflects the evidence that we have from working with families, from listening to them, and understanding their lived realities. It shows that family form is not, and has never been, static. However, services and policies are very often static, and do not reflect the reality of family diversity. Families are left without the supports they need. Lack of supports to separate well, lack of anti poverty measures and lack of mediation services around the country are clear examples of this gap. Government must look at new inter-departmental approaches if it is serious about fixing this problem, and working towards a society where all families are equally cared for and enabled to contribute.”

One Family Policy & Programmes manager, Valerie Maher, comments: “As divorce in Ireland generally requires a period of separation in the first instance, up to five years, the figures reflect both a progression for people from separation to divorce, combined with more people becoming separated. A Private Members Bill reducing the mandated waiting period to initiate divorce proceedings from four years to two is being debated before the Dáil today. We launched the results of Ireland’s First National Shared Parenting Survey in January. Over 1,000 women and men told us what is needed to support them and their children. Government must listen to their voices now, and implement our policy recommendations to ensure that separating parents are supported to keep children at the centre of parenting, thus ensuring better outcomes for all members of the family.”

Census findings reflect what One Family has been saying for years: Ireland’s families come in all shapes and sizes. Further information and analysis on families will be released in June this year. It is time for Government and society to embrace this wonderful diversity.

Notes for Editors

/Ends.

About One Family

One Family was founded in 1972 as Cherish and celebrates its 45th year in 2017. It is Ireland’s leading 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 1890 662212, counselling, and provision of training courses for parents and for professionals. One Family also promotes Family Day every May, an annual celebration of the diversity of families in Ireland today (www.familyday.ie).

One Family launched the results of Ireland’s first national Shared Parenting Survey. The full report can be read here.

For further information, visit www.onefamily.ie.

Available for Interview

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

Valerie Maher, Policy & Programmes Manager | t: 01 662 9212

Further Information/Scheduling

Shirley Chance, Director of Communications | t: 01 622 9212 or 087 414 8511

 

Statement | One Family Statement on Tuam Mother and Baby Home

What Ireland has learned about the Tuam Mother and Baby Home, and how callously and disrespectfully babies and infants were treated in life and in death, seems almost impossible to comprehend. It is difficult to think about it but we must; particularly today, on International Women’s Day. What happened at Tuam was reflective of our society, of our state and the Catholic Church. It was able to happen because of attitudes that led to pregnant, usually poor, unmarried women being held in such homes, to being treated as shameful, and to their babies being seen as an embodiment of sin.

We have been thinking about all of those children, women and families who suffered in the past, and those who today still carry pain as a result or their or their family members’ experiences. We hope that the unveiling of the secrecy around Tuam Mother and Baby Home can be the start of a real and true acknowledgment of their suffering.

One Family was founded as Cherish in that time when pregnant unmarried women were ‘sent away’. Our founders were a small group of unmarried mothers who were raising their babies themselves in very difficult circumstances. Through finding and supporting each other, they founded an organisation that would go on to support many thousands of other women; women desperate for help because of the societal and structural attitudes that meant being pregnant and unmarried had cost them their family relationships, jobs and homes. These women were supported to keep and raise their babies. The organisation successfully campaigned to abolish the status of illegitimacy, and for the introduction of the Unmarried Mother’s Allowance, as the One Parent Family Payment was then called.

Our founding member Maura O’Dea Richards said today: “The deep sadness I feel on reading these reports is one I have always carried as a woman who witnessed the suffering of so many others just because, as I had been, they were pregnant and unmarried. In 1972, we, the ostracised, banded together and showed ourselves. We demanded that women be recognised as deserving of value and respect, irrespective of marital or parenting status. We fought for justice for our children and for every child. One Family continues that work today. What will it take for our society to finally see all children and families as equal?”

Today, one in four families in Ireland is a one-parent family. It is forty-five years since we were founded yet many of the parents we work with still experience stigma and shame simply because they parent alone. The reality is, and evidence shows, that what most affects a child’s future is not the form their family takes, but living in consistent poverty. Yet Ireland’s child poverty rates continue to rise, and one-parent family households continue to experience the most deprivation.

Both poverty and judgement are dehumanising. A one-parent family is not “the other”; if someone is poor, they are not “different”. It is time that Irish society truly learns from its past. Each of us must accept responsibility for how we think about and treat the people around us; our family members, our neighbours, the parent we see at the school gate every morning. We must all work to contribute to a future society where every family is equally cherished. Only then can we be proud of who we are.

 

People parenting alone and their family members affected by the recent harrowing reports may wish to call One Family’s askonefamily helpline for support on 1890 66 22 12 / 01 662 9212.

Press Release | One-Parent Families almost Four Times More Likely than Two-Parent Households to Live in Consistent Poverty – SILC

Press Release

One-Parent Families almost Four Times More Likely than Two-Parent Households to Live in Consistent Poverty According to new Survey on Income and Living Conditions

Government must do more to remove the barriers trapping thousands of lone parents and their children in poverty.

(Dublin, Wednesday 2nd February 2017) One Family – Ireland’s organisation for people parenting alone and sharing parenting – responds to the latest figures from the Survey on Income and Living Conditions (SILC) 2014 published today with alarm.  Individuals living in households where there was one adult and one or more children aged under 18 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, meaning that lone parents and their children are almost four times more likely to be living in consistent poverty compared to two-parent households.

Deprivation is the inability to afford at least two basic necessities, from a list of 11, such as going 24 hours without a substantial meal or being cold because parents are unable to afford to heat the home. Of those living in households with one adult and one or more children aged under 18, 57.9% suffered deprivation in 2015. This shocking evidence of poverty underlines concerns that these families are being left behind.

Karen Kiernan, One Family CEO, comments: “Yesterday’s SILC results reflect and amplify what we keep saying. People parenting alone tell us through our askonefamily helpline and our mentoring, counselling, education and other support services, that they live in constant fear on the knife edge of poverty. Despite many existing measures being taken with the stated aim of helping lone parents return to the workforce, it is clear that these families are not being lifted out of consistent poverty. Government is still not fully addressing the lived reality of these parents’ caring responsibilities.”

Valerie Maher, One Family Policy & Programmes Manager, comments: “These figures also show that 36.2% of lone parent households are at risk of poverty with only a 0.3% reduction in this figure since 2014, despite the implementation of the reform of the One-Parent Family Payment (OFP). This is compared to an at risk of poverty rate of 14.5% for two-parent households. While a welcomed partial reversal of OFP reform was announced in last year’s Budget, we also called for full restoration of the Income Disregard to support lone parents in work, more to acknowledge those who share parenting, and changes to Family Income Support (FIS) criteria, to help improve outcomes for vulnerable families. A defined education pathway for people parenting alone must also be introduced, and cross-departmental cohesion increased. A system that can be clearly understood and is less complicated is long overdue.”

One in four families in Ireland is a one-parent family. Research shows that a key contributor to children’s futures is not the structure of their families but living in consistent poverty.

/Ends.

About One Family

One Family was founded in 1972 as Cherish and celebrates its 45th year in 2017.It is Ireland’s leading 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 1890 662212, counselling, and provision of training courses for parents and for professionals. One Family also promotes Family Day every May, an annual celebration of the diversity of families in Ireland today (www.familyday.ie).

This week  One Family launched the results of Ireland’s first national Shared Parenting Survey. The full report can be read here.

SILC 2015 results can be viewed here.

For further information, visit www.onefamily.ie.

Available for Interview

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

Further Information/Scheduling

Shirley Chance, Director of Communications | t: 01 622 9212 or 087 414 8511

 

Press Release | Ireland’s First National Shared Parenting Survey Results Revealed

Press Release

Ireland’s First National Shared Parenting Survey Results Revealed

Over 1,000 separated parents document their positives and challenges

(Dublin, Monday 30th January 2017) Today One Family – Ireland’s organisation for people parenting alone, sharing parenting, and separating – publishes the results of its Shared Parenting Survey and accompanying policy recommendations at a launch in Dublin’s Mansion House with speakers including Dr Geoffrey Shannon, Special Rapporteur on Child Protection and Child Law Expert; Josepha Madigan TD and Family Law Solicitor; Keith Walsh, Chair of the Law Society of Ireland Family and Child Law Committee, Solicitor and mediator; and Karen Kiernan, One Family CEO. One Family has 45 years experience of working with, and representing, one-parent families and those who share parenting, and devised and conducted the survey in response to a damaging lack of awareness and services experienced by these families.

The survey response was overwhelming with 1,014 women and men who share, or have attempted to share, parenting of their children after separation documenting their sometimes harrowing, yet often positive, personal experiences. The data, gathered in July and August last year, will finally give a voice to these parents and their children, and can inform appropriate policies and services in the future.

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.
  • Over 50% of respondents stated that they do not make decicions jointly on issues that impact on their child(ren).
  • Over 34% of respondents have attended mediation.

Karen Kiernan, One Family CEO, comments: “Our survey highlights the positives and the challenges, and the diversity and range, of shared parenting relationships in Ireland today. It finds that parents overwhelmingly agree that their children must be their central focus, but that conflict between them often impedes this. What helped some was a commitment to the mediation process, where it was available and appropriate.” Karen continues: “Maintenance, accommodation and finances are cited many times as huge obstacles to be overcome, as were domestic violence and the family law courts system.”

Dr Geoffrey Shannon, Child Law Expert comments: “We must ensure that we hear the voices of children appropriately in family law cases as provided for in the Children’s Referendum. This will require investment in the necessary infrastructure to make sure that children who live in shared parenting families have the best possible arrangements in place.”

Keith Walsh, Chair of the Law Society of Ireland Family and Child Law Committee, comments: “Given that the Children & Family Relationships Act 2015 is now in place, bringing modernity to legislation in relation to families, we now need the infrastructure of courts to keep pace. According to One Family’s findings, over 50% of respondents stated that they believed court services needed to be improved and that family supports such as parenting programmes, counselling and mediation would assist them in sharing parenting. We badly need a court welfare system and services available to family court users to improve outcomes for parents and children, improve efficiencies in the court system and reduce repeated court visits. The new family law facility planned for Hammond Lane in Dublin must provide these support services and all stakeholders in the family law system now need to work together to ensure that the best family law system is put in place. One Family has started the dialogue and we all need to plan a better way to solve family law problems.”

Valerie Maher, One Family Policy & Programmes Manager, comments: “Our recommendations stress the urgent need for cohesive and consolidated policy and practice changes across Government Departments that will result in a reduction of child poverty in Ireland. Evidence shows that separation, shared parenting and parenting alone are associated with less income for children, yet subsequent budgets have targeted women and men in these parenting situations, with negative outcomes for children. It is time for policies and services to catch up with the realities for families in Ireland today.”

One Family’s National Shared Parenting Survey: Results & Recommendations report is available to read/download online on www.onefamily.ie and on this link:

National Shared Parenting Survey: Results & Recommendations

One Family extends its sincere gratitude to each of the 1,014 parents who responded to this survey. This report draws directly from their survey responses and directly quotes many of their comments. Their honesty and openness will help to make Ireland a better place to share parenting in the future.

Notes for Editors

  • 1 in 4 families with children in Ireland is a one-parent family (Census 2011)
  • Almost 1 in 5 children (18.3%) live in a one-parent family (Census 2011)
  • There are over 215,000 one-parent families in Ireland today – 25.8% of all families with children (Census 2011)
  • 5% of one-parent families are headed by a father (Census 2011)
  • Family Relationships and Family Well-Being: A Study of the Families of Nine Year-Olds in Ireland by Tony Fahey, Patricia Keilthy and Ela Polek (2012): Shared Parenting in Lone Parent and Step Families (pg. 24) contains information on shared parenting in Ireland and can be read on www.onefamily.ie/Policy/Campaigns

About One Family

One Family was founded in 1972 as Cherish and celebrates its 45th year in 2017. It is Ireland’s leading 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 1890 66 22 12, counselling, and provision of training courses for parents and for professionals. One Family also promotes Family Day every May, an annual celebration of the diversity of families in Ireland today (www.familyday.ie). For further information, visit www.onefamily.ie.

Available for Interview

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

Parents who are separated and sharing parenting.

Further Information

Shirley Chance, Director of Communications | t: 01 662 9212 or 087 414 8511

 

 

Press Release | On Universal Children’s Day we ask: What is being done to lift Ireland’s poorest children out of poverty?

Press Release

On Universal Children’s Day we ask:

What is being done to lift Ireland’s poorest children out of poverty?

(Dublin, Friday 18 November 2016) One Family – Ireland’s organisation for people parenting alone, sharing parenting, and separating – celebrates UN Universal Children’s Day this Sunday, 20 of November 2016, while voicing concern on the inequality that exists in Irish society for the thousands of children living in those one-parent families which suffer the highest rates of deprivation in Ireland today. On Universal Children’s Day we must, as a society, speak for them, acknowledge them, and act for them.

One in nine (11%) children live in consistent poverty in Ireland (SILC 2014). This can mean going 24 hours without a substantial meal or being cold because parents are unable to afford to heat the home. 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. Two thirds of homeless families living in emergency accommodation are one-parent families, at any time.

Karen Kiernan, One Family CEO, states: “While Universal Children’s Day is a wonderful celebration of the joy of childhood and the resilience of children, it is also a day to reflect on the inequalities children in Ireland face every day, not as a result of their family form, but as a result of the systemic barriers facing their parents. These are people parenting alone who are consistently thwarted in their attempts to create more positive futures for their families in their efforts to enter education or the workplace. We know, and research shows, that it is the education level of parents and living in consistent poverty that most impact a child’s future.”

Karen continues: “Recent ESRI research, ‘Cherish all the Children Equally?’, confirmed that children living in one-parent families are more likely to fare poorly directly as a result of living in consistent poverty. To be clear, growing up in a lone parent family structure does not create a source of inequality in a child’s life; the inequality comes from inequitable systems and attitudes towards lone parents. But is enough being done to lift Ireland’s poorest children out of poverty? No. We have yet to see a cohesive attempt to break down the barriers that one-parent families in receipt of social welfare payments still face, and nothing to acknowledge those who share parenting.”

One Family will continue to speak out on behalf of the one in five children who live in one-parent families today, and their parents. In addition to providing services and supports, and advocating on behalf of one-parent families, One Family promotes societal acknowledgment of the positivity of family diversity with its annual Family Day celebration every May. Its askonefamily helpline can be contacted on 1890 66 22 12 or 01 662 9212.

/Ends.

Notes for Editors:

About One Family

One Family was founded in 1972 as Cherish and is Ireland’s leading 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 1890 66 22 12, counselling, and provision of training courses for parents and for professionals. One Family also promotes Family Day every May in celebration of the diversity of families in Ireland today (www.familyday.ie). For further information, visit www.onefamily.ie.

Available for Interview

Karen Kiernan, CEO, One Family | t: 086 850 9191

For further Information, please contact:

Shirley Chance, Director of Communications | t: 01 662 9212 or 087 414 8511
Jane Farrell, Communications & Marketing Officer | t: 01 662 9096 or 087 623 0166

 

Press Release | More Cherishing Needed for One-Parent Families

Press Release

More Cherishing Needed for One-Parent Families

The ESRI publishes analysis of inequalities among children in modern Ireland.

(Dublin, Tuesday 11 October 2016) One Family – Ireland’s organisation for people parenting alone, sharing parenting, and separating – responds to the study released today by the ESRI entitled ‘Cherishing all the Children Equally?’ which confirms the fact that children living in one-parent families are more likely to fare poorly as a result of living in consistent poverty.

Karen Kiernan, One Family CEO, states: “Research from Growing up in Ireland has found a consistent pattern of disadvantage for children living in one-parent families.  There is a greater likelihood of welfare dependence, higher maternal stress and lower income among one- parent families. As well as having less financial resources, many one-parent families experience also experience less interpersonal resources as they just have less time available for family and parenting work. The authors of the research are clear that poorer outcomes are not inevitable and we believe that both family supports as well as sufficient financial resources will make the difference.”

Karen continues: “As we come to terms with yesterday’s Budget this research only further cements our belief that the Budget was a missed opportunity once again to address these issues. This Budget may make some difference for some families, but after so many years of consistent deprivation, is this enough? Not yet. It is not enough to fully tackle the unacceptable reality of lone parents and their children being amongst the poorest in our society today.”

The research indicated that growing up in a single-parent family structure does represent a source of inequality in children’s lives. One Family continues to speak out on behalf of these families and ensure that the Government fulfils their promise to lift the 120,000 children currently living in consistent poverty out of this unfair and unjust situation.

NOTES FOR EDITORS

 

/Ends.

About One Family

One Family was founded in 1972 as Cherish and is Ireland’s leading 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 1890 662212, counselling, and provision of training courses for parents and for professionals. One Family also promotes Family Day and presents the Family Day Festival every May, an annual celebration of the diversity of families in Ireland today (www.familyday.ie). For further information, visit www.onefamily.ie.

 

Available for Interview:

Karen Kiernan, One Family CEO | t: 086 850 9191

Further Information or to arrange an interview:

Jane Farrell, Communications Officer | t: 01 662 9212

Shirley Chance, Director of Communications | t: 01 662 9212 or 087 414 8511

 

Dad and child's hands

Press Release | Budget 2017 – Partial Reversals of OFP Reforms Welcomed but it is Not Enough

Press Release

Budget 2017 – One Family Welcomes

Partial Reversals of OFP Reforms

New Government has made a start but it is not yet enough

(Dublin, Tuesday 11 October 2016) One Family – Ireland’s organisation for people parenting alone, sharing parenting, and separating – welcomes the announcements of improved childcare supports, the €5 increases to the One Parent Family Payment (OFP) and Back to Education Allowance, increases in the Income Disregard level for the OFP and Jobseeker’s Transition (JST) rates, and the Cost of Education Allowance; but reacts overall to Budget 2017 as a missed opportunity to strategically support vulnerable one-parent families.  All the recommendations from the recent NUIG report on Lone Parents and Activation, What Works and Why: A Review of the International Evidence in the Irish Context must be fully implemented particularly given the enormously high poverty rates experienced by these families: almost 60% of individuals from these households experience one or more forms of deprivation (EU-SILC 2014).

Karen Kiernan, One Family CEO, states: “We’ve long been calling for a restoration of income disregards and welcome this rise from €90 to €110 per week, along with some other long overdue announcements, but a full restoration to €146.50 per week is needed to support lone parents in work.  And again we see no cohesive attempt to break down the barriers that one-parent families in receipt of social welfare payments still face, and nothing to acknowledge those who share parenting. Lone parents with children over 14 are still subject to full Job Seeker’s Allowance (JSA) conditionality and in particular, a much harsher means testing of additional income despite the recent CSO release from Q2 showing that employment rates have dropped for lone parents with children aged 12-17. There has been no change to Family Income Support (FIS) criteria such as the hours reduction we have called for, a most simple and cost-effective way to support parents to access employment.

“People parenting alone want to contribute to society through employment, they want to further their education and get out of living in poverty, but are caught in the trap of week to week survival. This Budget may make some difference for some families, but after so many years of consistent deprivation, is this enough? Not yet. It is not enough to fully tackle the unacceptable reality of lone parents and their children being amongst the poorest in our society today. Cross-Departmental work to reverse cuts more positively is essential to ensure that the damage done over the past five years is reversed. The recipe for what is needed is in the NUIG research, and in our Pre-Budget Submission, and it must be fully implemented.”

Karen continues: “What is needed to lift these families out of poverty is not a mystery. Simply, we need targeted financial supports for poor children and investment in services; a childcare system that is accessible to poor children and families and available outside of school hours; a defined education pathway for people parenting alone; the ability to make work pay through in-work supports; and a system that can be clearly understood and is less complicated, both to payment recipients and the Department’s own staff in local offices, so that lone parents can trust that they will receive the support and guidance that is best for their families.”

One Family’s Pre-Budget Submission 2017 included recommendations designed to support lone parents into education and/or employment, while acknowledging their parenting responsibilities. There is now a golden opportunity for Government  to give hope to disadvantaged one-parent families, through following the NUIG research recommendations, and through working with and listening to the mine of evidence and experience being put forward by One Family and other organisations. Every parent must have an equal opportunity to create a better future for his or her children.

NOTES FOR EDITORS

  • NUIG released 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, co-authored by Dr Michelle Millar and Dr Rosemary Crosse of the UNESCO Child & Family Research Centre in NUI Galway, in September 2016.
  • One Family’s Pre-Budget Submission can be read here.
  • 1 in 4 families with children in Ireland is a one-parent family (Census 2011)
  • There are over 215,000 one-parent families in Ireland today – 25.8% of all families with children (Census 2011)
  • People in lone parent households continue to have the lowest disposable income out of all households in the state (EU-SILC 2014).
  • Those living in lone parent households continue to experience the highest rates of deprivation with almost 60% of individuals from these households experiencing one or more forms of deprivation (EU-SILC 2014).
  • 42,104 people are now receiving the One-Parent Family Payment. There are now 75,202 child dependents of One-Parent Family Payment recipients.
  • Of the approximately 25,500 customers who exited the OFP scheme on 2 July, 2015, the majority of customers transitioned to the Jobseeker’s Transitional payment, the Jobseeker’s Allowance payment and the Family Income Supplement. – 13,600 (or 54%) of them moved to the Jobseeker’s Transitional Payment (JST); – 2,500 (or 10%) of them moved to the Jobseeker’s Allowance (JA) scheme, and – 8,100 (or 32%) of them moved to the Family Income Supplement (FIS) scheme.

/Ends.

About One Family

One Family was founded in 1972 as Cherish and is Ireland’s leading 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 1890 662212, counselling, and provision of training courses for parents and for professionals. One Family also promotes Family Day and presents the Family Day Festival every May, an annual celebration of the diversity of families in Ireland today (www.familyday.ie). For further information, visit www.onefamily.ie.

Available for Interview:

Karen Kiernan, One Family CEO | t: 086 850 9191

Further Information or to arrange an interview:

Shirley Chance, Director of Communications | t: 01 662 9212 or 087 414 8511
 

Press Release | Clear Message for Minister Varadkar and Budget 2017 – New NUIG report into what works for lone parents

 Press Release

Clear Message for Minister Varadkar and Budget 2017 –

How to Support Lone Parents Out of Poverty and into Employment.

New NUIG report into what works for lone parents and activation backs up what One Family has been saying for years.

(Dublin, Thursday 29 September 2016) One Family – Ireland’s organisation for people parenting alone, sharing parenting, and separating – today calls on Minister Varadkar to implement the recommendations outlined in research commissioned by his report to support lone parents into employment. This long-awaited important research, to which One Family contributed several years ago, was released this week by NUIG on their website. 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, co-authored by Dr Michelle Millar and Dr Rosemary Crosse of the UNESCO Child & Family Research Centre in NUI Galway, is key to understanding what steps Government must take to create real opportunity for lone parents currently in receipt of welfare payments who wish to work and/or return to education to do so.

Karen Kiernan, One Family CEO, states, “The failure of the reform of the One-Parent Family Payment, now clearly evident, means that Government must address its errors in practical and realistic measures to support lone parents in Budget 2017. In a week which has seen Minister Varadkar deny the reality of tens of thousands of poor families whose incomes have been cut in recent years, a media focus on the failure of Ireland’s childcare system, and much discussion in the lead-up to Budget 2017, a report into what lone parents need to support them into employment is finally released. It should have prefaced all of these policy changes. The report was delayed, has received little dissemination, and apparently no commentary or response by the Department. Again we, and society, must ask why lone parents and children are those who are consistently punished unfairly?”

Valerie Maher, One Family Policy & Programmes Manager comments, “This Government needs to take an unblinkered look at the myriad of evidence from real parents with real children across Ireland. Although it was commissioned several years too late – following a series of cuts across successive budgets to one-parent families, and activation measures which seemed only to try to force lone parents into non-existing employment using non-existent childcare – its findings are essential to create polices that work. Existing ‘reform’ measures were enacted to save money and without the necessary supports in place. In other EU jurisdictions, for example Britain, this kind of research was conducted before reforms were made, childcare provision is far higher, Job Centre staff was trained by Gingerbread to work more effectively with lone parents and Government invested in training programmes for parents.”

In order for Minister Vardakar to fulfil his personal commitment to lift 100,000 children out of poverty by 2020, he must now take action based on this research. Budget 2017 must urgently address child poverty, and invest in services and targeted income supports so that one-parent families can create the futures their children deserve.

Lone Parents and Activation, What Works and Why: A Review of the International Evidence in the Irish Context,

can be read/downloaded at:

http://www.childandfamilyresearch.ie/media/ilascfrc/reports/Millar-and-Crosse-Activation-Report.pdf

One Family’s Pre-Budget Submission 2017 can be downloaded at https://onefamily.ie/policy-campaigns/one-family-campaigns/

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About One Family

One Family was founded in 1972 as Cherish and is Ireland’s leading 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 1890 66 22 12, counselling, and provision of training courses for parents and for professionals. One Family also promotes Family Day and presents the Family Day Festival every May, an annual celebration of the diversity of families in Ireland today (www.familyday.ie). For further information, visit www.onefamily.ie.

Available for Interview

Valerie Maher, Policy & Programmes Manager, One Family

Karen Kiernan, CEO, One Family

 

 

Statement | Our Response to Minister Varadkar’s Comments on OFP Reform Today

Statement

One Family’s Response to Minister Varadkar’s Comments on Reform of the One-Parent Family Payment on RTÉ Radio 1 on 26th September 2016

Today Minister Varadkar, in an interview on Morning Ireland (RTÉ Radio 1), discussed the changes to the One-Parent Family Payment (OFP). The Minister was adamant that there were no cuts made to the payment by the last Government, but rather to the conditionality of the payment. While this may be technically correct, it does not acknowledge the fact that a result of the reform is significant cuts to income for many one-parent families. Both the reform of the OFP and its implementation have been plagued by poor planning and communication, and a lack of joined up thinking on the part of the Department; impacts have included the creation of unnecessary fear and worry, and reduced income for many already vulnerable families. Lone parents already in work and in receipt of Family Income Supplement saw an immediate 40% reduction in their payments as a direct result of the reform. Government policy has not worked. Government has failed these families.

Minister Varadkar also outlined measures being put in place to reduce unemployment figures in line with the most advanced European economies. However, these economies invariably provide state-subsidised, affordable, accessible childcare to support parents to enter work. Ireland must follow suit if it wants to match the employment rate of other European countries. The immense cost of childcare in Ireland was acknowledged during the interview by the Minister who stated that “one of the biggest things” this Government could do is to reduce the cost of childcare. Yet despite this acknowledgment of the lack of affordable, accessible childcare currently available and how immense a barrier this is for parents to work, the Minister was emphatic that no reversal of the reform will be implemented. One Family contends that continuing to enforce the reform with a flawed childcare system in place is senseless.

The Minister further stated that the key to making work pay is to promote not just any job but getting a better quality job. One Family agrees that an investment in education and training supports is imperative in order to achieve this but this is just one essential step that must be taken, and it must be taken now. As outlined in our previous response to Minister Varadkar and in our Pre-Budget Submission there are a number of other steps that the Department could take to remove current educational barriers impacting on one-parent families.

The reform of the One-Parent Family Payment has failed, as evidenced by the already low-income families who have become poorer owing to its impacts. It is disappointing that the Minister, like his predecessor Joan Burton TD, continues to fail to acknowledge this; that Government policies and services that would address the major barriers faced by lone parents trying to access employment and/or education have yet to be proposed or implemented; and that lone parents and their children – 59% (almost three in five families) of whom experience enforced deprivation (SILC 2014) – are suffering the impacts of an intrinsically flawed Government approach.

Statement | One Family’s Response to Minister Varadkar’s Statement on Lone Parents and Educational Supports

Statement

One Family’s Response to Minister Varadkar’s Statement on Lone Parents and Educational Supports

One Family is disappointed to read Minister Varadkar’s statement of 17 August 2016 in relation to lone parents accessing education.  While the Minister has correctly outlined a number of supports currently available to people parenting alone, the statement fails to recognise some of the major barriers faced by lone parents trying to access education which have recently been discussed in the media.

  • As highlighted in One Family’s Pre-Budget Submission those in receipt of Rent Supplement should be permitted to engage in full-time education. This would remove a number of structural barriers which currently prevent these parents from accessing education. Currently the only option available to those dependent on Rent Supplement is to apply for Back to Education Allowance (BTEA). Ability to stay in education should not be linked to housing tenure.
  • The BTEA and the SUSI maintenance grant should be payable together to lone parents who are undertaking an educational or training course. The current system provides no additional income to meet the costs of childcare, course materials and travel costs.
  • We also recommend that the Department extend Jobseeker’s Transition Payment (JST) to those who are engaging in education, regardless of the age of their youngest child (up to a limit of 18).

We agree with the Minister that inaccurate information is a cause for concern. One Family have continually called for more clarity and information to be made available by the Department of Social Protection (DSP) to lone parents who are being transitioned off the One-Parent Family Payment (OFP) when their youngest child reaches seven years old. It is imperative that all available options open to parents are explored and explained clearly when a parent is required to change their primary social welfare payment. The OFP reform has been rife with implementation issues and the people suffering from this insufficient planning are lone parents who are already struggling financially and their children. We are aware of a number of cases through our askonefamily helpline where parents have been misinformed as to their entitlements and options.

The DSP have consistently promoted Family Income Supplement (FIS) and the short-term Back to Work Family Dividend (BTWFD) as the best option for lone parents who are working a minimum of nineteen hours when they lose their entitlement to OFP. However, due to the complex nature of our social welfare and educational systems, this may not be the best option for every parent, particularly if they wish to access education at a later stage and require financial supports such as the Back to Education Allowance (BTEA) in order to do so. While there may be a temporary financial gain to moving from OFP to FIS and BTWFD, if a lone parent has future intentions to enhance their skills and employability through further education or training, it may be a viable option to remain on JST as this is a qualifying payment for access to BTEA.

The emphasis on work and FIS often forces lone parents to maintain employment in low-wage jobs with unpredictable work to support their families, rather than receiving training or education to obtain higher-paying jobs that could lift them out of poverty in the longer term.

Minister Varadkar also outlines the option to work part-time while studying. Given that there are no financial supports available for part-time study at third level, the Minister is effectively suggesting that a lone parent should work part-time while attending full-time education, and also juggling their full-time parenting responsibilities in the absence of affordable childcare to support this option. This statement shows a lack of understanding and awareness of the issues being discussed here.

The suggestion by the Minister that broadening access to BTEA is “wide open to abuse” is in our view a derogatory observation which implies that social welfare recipients are attempting to use social supports in a dishonest fashion; an implication that our clients often tell us they experience in their local social welfare offices. We strongly recommend that the DSP adopt an innovative and supportive stance to removing the barriers impacting the vulnerable families that they aim to support rather than over-focussing on the possibility of fraud. These barriers facing poor families are multidimensional, interconnected and complex. Government actions must take them into account and ensure access to affordable, secure housing and to affordable childcare, and finally address our society’s long history of employment and educational discrimination.

Karen Kiernan

CEO, One Family

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