Services for Dads: More Reforms Needed to Reflect Growing Family Diversity

Martin Cullen T.D., Minister for Social and Family Affairs launched the One Family Annual Report 2006 on 5 September 2007. The publication of One Family’s report is timely in relation to the upcoming judgement by the High Court on the Mr. G case.
Speaking at the launch, Karen Kiernan, Director One Family said: “The G case and a number of other recent cases highlight the need for the Constitution, Irish law and services to reflect the diverse family forms living in Ireland today. It is no longer acceptable for the rights and responsibilities of parents and children to be largely determined by whether they live in a traditional married family or not.”
One Family is the leading provider of specialist support services to one-parent families in Ireland and is celebrating its 35th anniversary this year. The organisation has long been concerned at the lack of support services for families going through transitions and the huge lack of provision for children in family law processes. Karen Kiernan added: “There is also a lack of services for families after they have been through a separation or divorce and find themselves in lone or shared parenting situations.”
One Family has developed a range of services for all members of one-parent families, including Parent Mentoring and Adult Guidance services. These services provide individual and group support for lone parents, both men and women parenting alone, sharing parenting or who are seeking access to their children. Ms. Kiernan commented: “Fathers often face their own unique set of challenges in parenting alone, which may differ from the experiences of mothers. This can include difficulties building relationships with their children if they don’t have primary care or regular access. It is important that fathers are aware of the supports available to them from One Family. Our individualised Parent Mentoring and Counselling services can be particularly helpful to fathers in strengthening their relationships with their children and we encourage fathers to access these services”.
Addressing the need for support services for all members of one-parent families in post-divorce or separation situations, One Family, assisted by the Family Support Agency, is currently carrying out research into Child & Family Contact Centres in Ireland. This research aims to inform Government of the needs of families around shared parenting. Karen Kiernan said: “Government need to take into account that families in modern Ireland are frequently in transition and require specialist supports to enable all parents to provide the best life for their children. One Family will be calling for support to pilot and mainstream Child & Family Contact services in Ireland once our research is complete”.
One Family’s Annual Report 2006 highlights the need for greater resources to support specialist services for one-parent families. The report showed a 10% increase on the uptake of the organisation’s services in 2006, with nearly 6,500 one-parent families and professionals accessing information and support.
For further information please contact
Catherine Joyce, Communications Manager, 664 0125/ 086 343 2542
Karen Kiernan, Director, 662 9212/ 086 850 9191