Calls at Pre-Budget Forum for Budget 2020 to be based on evidence

Reports pile up with evidence about what needs to be done to unlock lone parents and their children from the poverty trap

[Dublin, Thursday 4 July] One Family – Ireland’s organisation for people parenting alone, sharing parenting and separating has called on the Government to urgently implement the recommendations of the eight Government and independently commissioned reports published since 2016 on one-parent families and poverty. All eight reports make similar recommendations and urge the implementation of targeted supports for one-parent families. The call comes as One Family publishes its Pre-Budget Submission for Budget 2020 ahead of the Department of Employment Affairs & Social Protection’s Pre-Budget Forum on 5 July.

One Family CEO Karen Kiernan said, “In the last three years, eight reports on one-parent families and poverty have been published; and are now piling-up on shelves in Government departments. Each report paints a similar picture of children growing up in the grip of poverty. These families are consistently among the worse off in our society, they are disproportionately represented in the homelessness figures and the living standards of working one-parent families are now amongst the worst in Europe[1]. This is just not right – these are real families, with real children and their lives matter.We need targeted measures that support one-parent families to support themselves out of poverty. Government needs to prove it is listening to its own research and do the right thing.”

Ms. Kiernan added, “In our Pre-Budget Submission we have outlined eighteen targeted measures based on the research that, if implemented, would significantly change the lives of thousands of children. We want Government to respond to the evidence with compassion and justice in Budget 2020 by developing a cross-departmental response to the needs of one-parent families. If this problem is tackled now, we will avoid condemning another generation of children and their parents to poverty and this is not something we want as a society.”

To read the full details of our Pre-Budget Submission please click here.

Major Research on One-Parent Families since 2016:

  • (2019) Working, Parenting and Struggling? An analysis of the employment and living conditions of one parent families in Ireland. A Report by the Society of St Vincent de Paul. Dublin, Ireland.
  • (2018) Lone-Parent Incomes and Work Incentives. Budget Perspectives 2019. Paper 1, July 2018. Regan, M., Keane, C., and Walsh, J.R. ESRI.
  • (2018) Understanding, negotiating and navigating the politicisation of evidence-based policy research: the case of Irish research on lone parent labour market activation policy. Millar, M., Crosse, R., Canavan, J. University of Bristol, UK
  • (2018) In-Work Benefits: The (in)adequacy of in-work benefits in Irish lone parent labour market activation policy. Millar, M., Gray, J., Et al., Journal of Poverty and Social Justice. Policy Press, University of Bristol, UK.
  • (2017) An Independent Review to Identify the Supports and Barriers for Lone Parents in Accessing Higher Education and to Examine Measures to Increase Participation. Delma Byrne and Clíona Murray Maynooth University (Commissioned by DES, DEASP and DCYA).
  • (2017) Houses of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Social Protection Report on the Position of Lone Parents in Ireland.
  • (2017) Indecon Independent Review of the Amendments to the One-parent Family Payment since January 2012. Presented to Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection Prepared by Indecon Research Economists
  • (2016) Lone Parents and Activation, What Works and Why: A Review of the International Evidence in the Irish Context. Millar, M and Crosse,R.  The UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre, National University of Ireland, Galway.


Notes to the Editor:

About One Family:

One Family is Ireland’s 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.

Statistics on one-parent families:

  • There were 218,817 family units with children (of any age) headed by a lone parent (Census 2016).
  • 1 in 4 families with children in Ireland is a one-parent family (Census 2016).
  • 1 in 5 people in Ireland live in a one-parent family (Census 2016).
  • 356,203 children lived in one-parent families, representing more than one in five or 21.2% of all children in family units (Census 2016).
  • In November 2018, 14,349 One-Parent Family Payment recipients (39 per cent of all recipients) are in employment, and of 14,418 Jobseeker’s Transition recipients, 4,037 recipients work. The Working Family Payment is an important support for working parents; almost half of recipients are households headed by a lone parent.
  • The Survey on Income and Living Conditions 2017 (SILC) revealed that one-parent family households experience the most deprivation in Ireland. Almost 45% of lone parent households experience more than one form of deprivation.
  • Children living in one-parent families had the highest consistent poverty rate at 20%. This is compared to a consistent poverty rate of 3.9% for two-parent households. This means that lone parents are five times as likely to be living in consistent poverty compared to two-parent households.
  • One-parent families continue to have the lowest disposable income of all households with children in the state (SILC 2017).
  • 60% of homeless families living in emergency accommodation are one-parent families, at any time.

For further information visit:

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

[1] St. Vincent DePaul – Working, Parenting and Struggling (2019)

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.