Childcare Provision Failure is One of Government’s Harshest Blows to One-Parent Families
(Dublin, Wednesday 19 March 2014) One Family – Ireland’s leading organisation for one-parent families in Ireland today – responds to the pending publication of a new report due for release later this month by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) which will show that a family in Ireland with two children spends 40% of its average wage to meet childcare costs. Ireland is one of the most expensive countries worldwide for childcare services.
One Family has been calling for affordable, accessible childcare for many years and putting forward to Government our no-cost and low-cost solutions as part of our 10 Solutions campaign. Lack of childcare remains one of the greatest barriers to lone parents wishing to return to work and/or education. Karen Kiernan, One Family CEO, responds to the pending publication of the OECD report as follows: “This new report is timely. Currently Minister Fitzgerald is reviewing the myriad of child support schemes and their impact on low income families. One Family is recommending an amalgamation of supports into a single accessible and tailored Childcare and Out of School Care financial support programme to ensure work pays for low income families and enables them to get out of consistent and persistent poverty.”
Lone parents on social welfare will be activated (turned into job-seekers) when their youngest child is 7 years old. Success relies on activation being underpinned by local, affordable, accessible and quality child and out of school care. This is not the case as the spread and reach of services is patchy. Stuart Duffin, One Family’s Director of Policy & Programmes, comments, “There is little room for injecting funding into delivery of existing services so we need to be creative, innovative and entrepreneurial in how we craft and model provision using available resources and assets. The outcomes need to support the needs of parents and the exchequer.”
Worldwide, many innovative schemes are in place. Yesterday a major new childcare package was launched in the UK. It aims to help millions of parents, enabling them to go out to work and providing more security for their families, while directing extra support to those children from disadvantaged backgrounds through a tax free Childcare allowance. In New Zealand, the Out of School Care and Recreation (OSCAR) Subsidy is proving to be a good economic policy.
Government is charged to commit to protecting and building childcare and out of school care spaces in both the short and long term, for families in transition and particularly for those parenting alone. For low-income parents, the lack of access to quality and affordable childcare remains a fundamental challenge to participation in the labour market. Their ability to work is jeopardised which makes the entire childcare system vulnerable and ultimately the economy as a whole. Provision of childcare and OSCAR, both before and after-school care, is an economic driver. A value-for-money and quality assured childcare service can be delivered by a well designed tax credit system which can provide the targeted support needed to help lone parents secure the employment opportunities that would lead to financial independence.
One Family reiterates its call to Government to enact its 10 Solutions campaign, with an immediate focus on childcare. All children deserve the best start in life.
About One Family
One Family was founded in 1972 and is Ireland’s leading organisation for one-parent families offering support, information and services to all members of all one-parent families, to those experiencing an unplanned pregnancy and to those 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 662 212, counselling, and provision of training courses for parents and for professionals. One Family also promotes the Family Day Festival, an annual celebration of the diversity of families in Ireland today, with 10,000 people attending in 2013 (www.familyday.ie). For further information, visit www.onefamily.ie.
Available for Interview
Karen Kiernan, CEO | t: 01 662 9212 or 086 850 9191
Stuart Duffin, Director of Policy & Programmes | t: 01 662 9212 or 087 062 2023
Shirley Chance, Director of Communications | t: 01 662 9212 or 087 414 8511