One Family seminal research highlights need for Child Contact Centres in Ireland

Ground breaking research by One Family, the leading service provider for people parenting alone and sharing parenting, launched 12 April 2010 at Dublin Castle by Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Barry Andrews, TD, has called for a network of child contact centres throughout Ireland. The research entitled Supporting Child Contact: the Need for Child Contact Centres in Ireland was researched and written by Candy Murphy, Policy & Research Manager with One Family.

Candy Murphy explained, ‘Child contact centres provide a safe, neutral and welcoming environment where regular contact between parents and children that do not live together can be supported and developed in a range of situations.’ 

Specialist contact centres for children and families involved in marriage and relationship breakdown are currently largely unavailable in Ireland although common in many other countries, including Great Britain and Northern Ireland. The report shows that, based on international provision, Ireland could require 37 such centres throughout the country.

‘During the course of the research we consulted parents, legal professionals and family support workers and there is overwhelming support for such services. They are particularly vital in situations where there are high levels of conflict between parents, where a parent has had little previous contact with his or her children, or where there are concerns over the safety of the child,’ continues Murphy, ‘contact centres can ensure a child’s safety whilst supporting a child and their non-resident parent to develop a positive and enduring relationship which can in the vast majority of cases move on to more ‘normal’ contact arrangements within a reasonable time period.’

The research was funded by the Family Support Agency and is the second major piece of research undertaken by One Family looking at important unmet social issues in Ireland affecting people parenting alone and sharing parenting.

Karen Kiernan, Director of One Family, explained that ‘currently there is very little provision of contact centre services which means that family law courts and judges have very limited choices on where to send parents and children who have difficulties managing contact. Contact centres would relieve stress on children, and parents would really benefit from knowing that their children are safe and supported during these difficult times.’

Candy Murphy concluded, ‘Without contact centres that can provide specialist supports for parents and their children, more children will lose touch with their parents, particularly their fathers, and more children will miss the opportunity to develop positive quality relationships with a parent with whom they do not live. We very much appreciate the co-operation and support we are receiving from the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Barry Andrews T.D. and his Department to progress the study’s recommendations. We look forward in the future to the provision of pilot contact centres in Ireland and the subsequent roll out of this much needed service throughout the country.’

The following are available for interview:

  • Candy Murphy, Policy Manager, One Family and author of the report, 01 662 9212, 087 293 3180
  • Declan Keaveney, father who contributed to the report, (contact Hilary Fennell below for Declan)
  • Nadia Dorcey, mother who contributed to the report, (contact Hilary Fennell below for Nadia)
  • Karen Kiernan, Director, One Family 01 662 9212, 086 850 9191

Hilary Fennell, Communications Manager, One Family 01 6629212, 087 2359515

Summary and full report available here:

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

Presentations available here:

Candy Murphy, Policy Manager One Family, PP presentation

Anne O’Kelly, Director Cloona Child Contact Services Belfast, PP presentation

One Family has been providing specialist family support services to people parenting alone and sharing parenting for 38 years.  Services include parenting and skills training, counselling, parent mentoring and national information supports.



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