Invitation to tender to undertake research to develop and disseminate guidance on contact time for infants and young children in separated families | July 2021

About One Family

One Family was founded in 1972 as Cherish and is Ireland’s national organisation for people parenting alone, sharing parenting and separating. As a registered charity, we offer 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 our 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. Full information on One Family can be found at


Pregnancy and the first year of a baby’s life is the most common point of separation for parents (where a relationship exists). Many parents seek assistance during the separation process; particularly when this intersects with pregnancy, an infant or young child, high conflict, abuse and/or limited parental communication. One Family works with parents and their children, providing counselling and parenting services during this time. We see decisions made – by parents or by the courts – that may not be in the infant’s best interest. Often decisions are made on a pro-parental contact basis without due consideration or understanding of an infant or young child’s cognitive and emotional development.

There is no uniform approach to contact with infants or young children for separated families in Ireland with the various stakeholders holding different perspectives and placing varying emphasis on factors such as the principle of the best interest of the child, child protection, parental rights etc. Due to the lack of a consistent, evidenced-based approach parents often struggle to determine how to best share parenting of young children. Some are concerned that it may not be in their child’s best interest to spend overnight visits with a parent who is not the primary caregiver; other parents worry about the effect lack of contact will have on their ability to bond with their young child. There is a clear need for evidence-based, child centred, best practice guidelines to support decisions and practices made by the courts, child and family professionals and practitioners and families.

Request for Tender

One Family has received funding from the RTE Toy Show Appeal: Improving Wellbeing Strand to research contact time for infants and young children in separating/ed families and is seeking to contract a researcher or team of researchers to develop model of best practice.  The objective of the research is to protect the long-term emotional, mental and physical health and well-being of children by ensuring they form appropriate bonds of attachment with their parents in complex and challenging circumstances. The short and long-term safety and best interests of children should be the paramount concern of the research.

We would like this to be a mixed methods research employing use of secondary data, evidence and literature review of international best practice, as well as primary research with key professionals and affected parents to determine current practices being used in Ireland.

The purpose of the research is to achieve the following:

  • To undertake an evidence and literature review of international best practice in relation to contact for infants in separating/ed families.
  • To establish data and analysis of current practice in Ireland in relation to contact for infants in separating/ed families by conducting interviews with professionals working in this area and a survey of parents who have relevant experience.
  • To develop guidelines in partnership with One Family which set out best practice based on the secondary and primary research.

One Family requires assistance to develop a child-centred, best practice model and guidelines on parental contact with infants and young children for separating/ed families. Specifically, the successful consultant/s will be required to work with the staff team to develop the following components:

  • Evidence and literature review.
  • Interviews with key professionals working in this area (this should include but may not be limited to legal practitioners working on family law cases, judges, social work practitioners, family support service providers etc.).
  • Survey of parents who have experience of sharing parenting of young children through separation.
  • Guidelines which draw from the evidence and literature review, analysis of interview and survey responses to provide a child-centred best practice model in a user-friendly format which is accessible to legal practitioners, child and family support professionals and families.

Key activities (should include, but may not be limited to the following)

  • Develop a work-plan for the research with clear timelines and deliverables.
  • Gathering and analysing existing international and national evidence.
  • Conducting a literature review.
  • Examining the current state of play in Ireland, including an assessment of need.
  • Capturing the views of key stakeholders via interview.
  • Collecting the voices and views of parents via survey.
  • Collecting the wisdom practice of One Family staff.
  • Analyse and interpret feedback and data from primary research sources listed above.
  • Co-production of a model of best practice and implementation guidelines in partnership with One Family staff.
  • Take part in dissemination of the guidelines including but not limited to presenting at seminars and conferences as required.
Best Practice Guidelines

The best practice guidelines should be presented to a high standard of quality which meets both the strategic planning and governance requirements of One Family.


The closing date for submission of proposals is 12 August 2021. It is expected the research, including all outputs will be completed by 30 June 2022.

Management of the research

Selection of a researcher or research team is made at the discretion of One Family. Day-to-day management of the research/contract will be led by One Family Policy Manager. The successful contractor will also work closely with the Director of Parenting and other One Family staff as required.

Format of Tenders

Tender documents should be no more than 3,000 words (excluding researcher CVs which should be added as appendices). Tenders should include:

  • Consultant CV including relevant experience as below:
    • Knowledge and experience of issues facing one-parent families; separated families; infant mental health; and family support services in Ireland.
    • Expertise and competencies specifically relating to the area of work described above, and evidence such as published work where possible.
  • Proposed outline of research and methodology, including consultation/engagement with stakeholders.
  • Detailed budget.
  • Timeline for the project, including length of time and number of days over this time period.
  • Identification of any conflicts of interest.
  • Referees: contact details must be supplied for two referees, that One Family can contact who have engaged the proposed consultant for similar/related work and two examples of similar work carried out.
  • The successful consultant will be required to submit evidence of relevant professional indemnity and insurance details.
  • Contact details.

The Budget available for this project is €30,000 (inclusive of VAT). Please outline clearly all fees (including expenses and with VAT as applicable noted as a separate charge). A current tax clearance certificate will be required. This contract will be awarded on the basis of a fixed price contract, and as such, all costs must be quoted (and clearly indicated) as a fixed price in Euro. The successful consultant is expected to work within the agreed budget and report regularly on budgetary issues. All costs associated with the consultant’s response to the Request for Tender will be the responsibility of the consultant. One Family is not bound to accept the lowest or any tender and will award the contract to its best advantage.

Tender Evaluation Process

Initially the tender proposals will be checked for compliance with the Request for Tender conditions. Potential consultants will be assessed both on their tender proposal and a follow up interview. They will be assessed against the following major attributes:

  1. Proven capability and experience in relevant field of work (350).
  2. Methodology (350).
  3. Value for Money (300).

A minimum threshold of 150 in any one category will be required. Consideration will also be given to timeline under which the work can be fully completed in the Methodology section.

Tender Submissions/Contact

Please return tender with Contact time for infants and young children in separated families in the subject line to Niamh Kelly at email: with all queries directed to same.

Tenders will be accepted by email only. The onus is on the applicant to ensure their tenders have been received on or before this deadline.

The contract for service rests with One Family. The primary point of contact for the successful consultant will be Niamh Kelly, Policy Manager at One Family.

One Family expressly reserves the right to:
  • Extend the time of lodgement of responses to the Request for Tender and/or to vary the timings and process for their Request for Tender.
  • Vary any requirements of the services required for the Request for Tender.
  • Following evaluation, accept or reject any or all responses to the Request for Tender.
  • Seek and obtain clarification of any responses to the Request for Tender, including additional information.
  • Request providers to amend their responses.
  • Accept any proposal in part or in total.

The closing date for receiving proposals is 10am, 12 August 2021.