Moving from Welfare to Work:  Low Work Intensity Households and the Quality of Supportive Services 

Report by the National Economic and Social Council of Ireland (NESC) – Launch and Seminar.

The report is co-authored by One Family Board Chair, Dr Anne Marie McGauran, and Dr Helen Johnston, both working in the NESC and can be downloaded here.


In Ireland the percentage of people living in households where no-one is working, or have a marginal attachment to the labour force, is higher than in most other EU countries. These households are diverse: unemployed people, lone parents, people with an illness or disability and ethnic minorities. ‘Low work intensity’ households experience much higher poverty rates and have a long-lasting negative impact on the children growing up in them. There are significant costs to the State.

The Report came to three overall conclusions:

1 – There is a need to develop a stronger focus on the household, by continuing to expand activation supports to adult dependents, people with a disability, and carers who wish to enter employment. A seminar speaker, Herwig Immervol, also supported this finding by suggesting that households, rather than individuals, need to be considered, as a whole, in activation measures. (link below)

2 – Stronger links are needed between employment services and employers, and between all services in order to support jobless households. Resources for this co-ordination need to be provided.

3 – Increase intensity of support to ensure effective outcomes particularly for those most distant from the labour market: lone parents, people with illness/disability, and those with literacy difficulties, poor English, no work experience or contacts, a history of addiction or time in prison. Supporting this finding the seminar speaker Deborah Rice also found that well-trained caseworkers who can develop good relations with clients and have some autonomy contribute to positive outcomes (link below).

The report also examined welfare and employment services and found that, though generally supportive, there is a lack of trust between service users and Intreo, where people can feel they have no choice in relation to activation/training options offered.

The programme for the full seminar can be accessed here.

Social Inclusion Forum 2018

On May 10th, 2018, One Family attended the annual Social Inclusion Forum (SIF) in the Aviva Stadium in Dublin.  The theme of the Forum was Social Inclusion in a Changing Environment. 

The SIF was established by Government, and convened by the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection (DEASP), as part of the national structures to monitor and evaluate Ireland’s National Action Plan for Social Inclusion (NAPinclusion).

This event was the principal forum for wide public consultation and discussion on social inclusion. It provides an opportunity for engagement between officials, community and voluntary organisations, and most importantly, people experiencing poverty in relation to policy.

The theme for this year’s Forum focussed on how national social inclusion and development issues interact with the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals[1]

The Forum ran a number of Workshops

  1. Tools for Change: How Does the Public Sector Duty Relate to Poverty and Social Inclusion Policies?
  2. Strengthening the Voice of the Social Inclusion Forum: What Role Should the Social Inclusion Forum Play in the New National Action Plan for Social Inclusion?
  3. Equality Proofing Public Expenditure: Lessons for Poverty Proofing
  4. Childcare Policies: Supporting Participation and Early Childhood Development
  5. Community Work at Local Level: Its Contribution to Understanding and Responding to Poverty and Social Exclusion

One Family participated in the “Tools For Change” workshop  which looked at the Irish Human Rights and Equality Act 2014 (IHREC). In this Act, in Section 42 (Public Sector Equality and Human Rights Duty[2])  , all public bodies in Ireland have a legal responsibility to promote equality, prevent discrimination and protect the human rights of their employees, customers, service users and everyone affected by their policies and plans.  The discussion and debate during the workshop opened up issues relevant to lone parent families.

One Family pointed out that this legal duty in the public sector needs to be fully implemented and enforced. It would support the rights of both public sector workers themselves and clients engaging with public services. In particular, there is a need to ensure that proper training and support for staff in human rights and equality issues is not carried out in a vacuum. Pilot programmes with IHREC which have actively included front-line workers and clients in detailed consultations in the public services show great enhancement of those services. They make the work-service provision environment better for all.  One Family has repeatedly called for training, information and support for Intreo case-workers in order to understand the realities of lone parent families, to be fully knowledgeable about all services and supports available. Without an whole-of-government, fully integrated wraparound supports and services, lone parents will continue to experience routs to education and work as an obstacle course.

The Forum closed with a robust session on how the UN Sustainable Development Goals intersect with our national social inclusion and poverty reduction targets and strategies. Participants spoke strongly against using any measures or interventions which would re-prioritise already established anti-poverty goals, targets or strategies. Participants rejected measures which do not align explicitly with those already established. Lowering or moving poverty-reduction targets caused by political decisions during the recession, for example the cuts of Budget 2012, are not a coherent strategy. If the cuts born so heavily by lone parents from the 2012 Budget onwards  were made by reason of a ‘recession’, by the same token, increases should be made in 2018 in a rising economy. Throughout the day the lives and realities of lone parent families, along with other disadvantaged groups, were raised consistently from various quarters.[3]





Our Response to Draft Heads of Children and Family Relationships Bill

One Family has submitted a Response to the Draft Heads of the Children and Family Relationships Bill to the Joint Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality.

One Family holds a broad and inclusive view of family life and we work with people who parent alone, people who share parenting of their children as well as families who are in transition e.g. going through the process of separation or becoming a step or blended family. Children are at the centre of what we do and we hold and actively promote the child’s best interest principle, as well as working from a human-rights based approach.

We offer a wide range of specialist and expert family support services, which form the basis of our Professional Development Service and our practice to policy and advocacy work. The opinions and recommendations in this submission are based on the lived reality of the families we work with who live in challenging and diverse situations, on national and international best practice evidence, and on socio-legal research.

This submission is available as a PDF to read and/or download here: Children and Family Relationships Bill – Response to Draft Heads.

Annual Review 2012 and Strategy 2013-2015

We are pleased to launch our Annual Review 2012 and Strategy 2013-2015, which may be read and/or downloaded by clicking on the links below:

One Family Annual Review 2012

One Family Strategy 2013-2015

One Family launches report on the need for Child Contact Centres in Ireland, Monday 12 April at 10 am

At The Coach House Dublin Castle. Minister for Children Barry Andrews, TD, will launch the report. This will be followed by a seminar chaired by The Hon. Mr Justice Henry Abbott.  See below for a copy of the summary and of the full report…

Summary – Supporting Child Contact: the Need for Child Contact Centres in Ireland

Full Report – Supporting Child Contact: the Need for Child Contact Centres in Ireland

One Family’s Submission to the Joint Committee on the Constitutional Amendment on Children May 2008


In general One Family supports the submissions to the joint committee made by the Ombudsman for Children and by the Children’s Rights Alliance. One Family is therefore limiting its response to Clause 1 (Article 42(A).1), Clause 2 (Article 42(A) 2.1) and Clause 4 (Article 42(A).4.

Submission-PDF file -May-2008

Pre-Budget Submissions

Pre-Budget Submisson 2012

One Family’s Pre-Budget Submission to the Department of Social Protection

One Family pre-budget 2012 submission



Submission to:  Department of Social and Family Affairs

Pre-Budget Submisson 2011


One Family is again framing its submission in a way that takes account of the serious economic downturn currently being experienced in the economy and in recognition that, while short term financial problems must be a key concern, The Department of Social Protection, supported by other Departments, should:

  1. Base all decisions on the premise of not increasing poverty among one-parent families
  2. Develop and implement a coherent strategy to reduce child poverty which is strongly and increasingly concentrated in one-parent families
  3. Ensure that proven supports to assist lone parents to secure and/or progress into employment, education and skill development pioneered to date by FAS and the Department of Social Protection in partnership with One Family are maintained and built  on
  4. Ensure that existing supports to assist families going through crisis pregnancy, marriage and relationship breakdown and new family formations are not dismantled
  5. Build on positive supports for families and children already in place, e.g the universal free preschool year.

One Family 2011 pre-budget submission sent 21 09 10

Pre-Budget Submission 2010


The 2010 pre-budget report has framed its submission around the economic downturn. One-parent families are facing increased financial and other pressures due to the cutbacks already imposed by Government in the earlier budget in 2009 and in the 2008 budget. These cutbacks already seriously affecting one-parent families include:

  • Reductions in Rent Supplement and increases in rent contribution required by the tenant
  • Removal and reductions in payments for children – removal of the Early Child Care Supplement and Child Benefits cuts for 18 year olds
  • Removal of the Christmas bonus for those on welfare
  • Exclusion of those on the One-Parent Family Payment from many of the new training and education initiatives introduced by FAS
  • Cutbacks in education grants – often in the middle of courses
  • Cutbacks in support for schools and for school children in low income families.

One Family 2010 pre-budget submission 15 10 09 tk

Pre-Budget Report 2009


This report has framed its submission in a way that takes account of the serious economic downturn currently being experienced in the economy and of the expectation, as forecast by the ERSI in its latest Medium Term Review, that the economy will soor return to a long-term growth path.

One Family 2009 pre-budget submission 11 September 2008

Pre-Budget Submission 2008


This report has framed its submission around the 3 main areas indentified in the National Economic and Social Council report on the Development Welfare state (NESC Report No.  113.  May 2005)

These areas are

  • Income Adequacy
  • Services
  • Innovation

One Family pre-budget submission October 2007

Pre-Budget Submission 2007


One Family welcomes this opportunity to submit our pre-Budget submission to the Department of Social and Family Affairs. This year we are framing our submission around the ten areas that we believe are vital to addressing the inequalities experienced by one-parent families in Ireland today.
Pre-budget-submission 2007-PDF

Government Discussion Document on Proposals for Supporting Lone Parents

Need for a Coherent Policy Framework

Overall, One Family believes that there is an urgent need to develop and implement a coherent policy framework for one-parent families that reflects the realities of their lives and those of their children.

The key objectives of this framework in our view would be: Read more

Domestic Partnerships

Role of One Family

One Family works with all types of one-parent families as well as with new  and blended families. Much of our work revolves around issues related to the formation and ending of family relationships. In all cases our primary concern is the impact of such situations on the child, on ensuring the availability of adequate supports for children and on supporting legal frameworks that overtly address the best interests of the child.

We therefore focus our recommendations to the Working Group with this priority in mind.

Social Partnership Discussions

One Family welcomes this opportunity to submit our proposals to the social partnership process.

Given the importance of the current social partnership discussions in terms of framing economic and social policy in Ireland over the next possibly ten year period, One Family is keen to ensure that the issues affecting our clients, one-parent families, are adequately addressed in the discussions and that the  current proposals for changing state supports for lone parents are clearly linked in with other major strategic developments and related funding sources.