‘First responder shouldn’t be a solicitor’ – Support services for separating families urgently needed across Ireland

[Monday, September 16, 2019] One Family, Ireland’s organisation for people parenting alone, sharing parenting and separating has called for the urgent rollout of specialist support services for families who are going through the long process of separating. The call comes as the charity launched its Annual Review for 2018 which has seen an 82% increase in demand for its services compared with 2017.

One Family CEO Karen Kiernan said, “Since 2017, there has been an 82% increase in requests for our services with a large spike in demand for services for families separating. Services such as our Tusla-funded, Separating Well for Children project show the depth of demand that exists from people going through the private family law system and similar services are urgently required nationwide. Through this project we have found ourselves frequently bridging gaps in services that exist for vulnerable separated parents and their children. This project deescalates the conflict within the family using mediation, parenting support as well as creative therapies for children, allowing parents to put aside their own grievances and focus on the welfare of their children.When families separate the first responder shouldn’t be a solicitor – instead child-focussed, affordable supports should be available locally”.

Ms. Kiernan added, “In 2018, we delivered over 8,430 intensive in-person supports, while our askonefamily helpline received over 4,000 queries, we would urge anyone who needs advice when separating to call our helpline on lo-call 1890 662 212. Demand for our services has never been higher partly due to the increased number of people parenting alone, sharing parenting and separating. But it also reflects the poverty rates amongst lone parents who, because of spiralling homelessness and deprivation rates, are relying more and more on our services. We anticipate that demand for our services will increase in the years ahead and the Government must now look to urgently fund specialised support services for separated families in crisis throughout the country.”


Notes to editor:

About One Family One Family was founded in 1972 as Cherish and is Ireland’s organisation for one-parent families and people sharingparenting, or separating.

Key statistics from the One Family’s Annual Review 2018:

  • 82% increase in service delivery from 2017.
  • 8,430 intensive in-person supports.
  • 11 policy submissions over 65 policy representations.
  • Nearly 4,100 queries received through the Askonefamily helpline.
  • 29% of queries related to family life and parenting.
  • 1,841 counselling sessions were delivered an increase of 49% on 2017.
  • Over 1,000 parenting services delivered.
  • 40% of parenting participants were Dads.

Statistics on one-parent families:

  • 1 in 5 people in Ireland live in a one-parent family (Census 2016)
  • 1 in 4 families with children in Ireland is a one-parent family (Census 2016)
  • There were 218,817 (25.4%) family units with children (of any age) headed by a lone parent. This is an increase of over 3,500 families since 2011. Almost 90,000 were single; a further 50,496 were widowed while the remaining 68,378 were separated or divorced.
  • This represented approximately one in four of families with children and one in five of all families (25.4% of all family units with children in Ireland and 18% of all family units).
  • 356,203 children lived in one parent families, representing more than one in five or 21.2% of all children in family units.
  • The total number of divorced people in Ireland has increased from 87,770 in 2011 to 103,895 in 2016.This is an increase of over 44,000 people in the last ten years.
  • In contrast, the number of people identified as separated has levelled off and stood at 118,178, up marginally from 116,194 five years earlier. As divorce in Ireland generally requires a period of separation in the first instance (up to five years) the figures reflects both a progression for people from separation to divorce, combined with more people becoming separated.

Link to One Family Annual Review 2018:

For further information, visit www.onefamily.ie.

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