Minister Hanafin’s kite-flying on lone parents must be grounded
Candy Murphy, Policy & Research Manager of One Family said: ‘while we continue to welcome the development of effective supports for lone parents aimed at reducing the unacceptably high rates of poverty and social exclusion in one-parent families, we would like reforms to be grounded in good policy and evidence. We remain very concerned at any proposal to introduce mandatory work requirements for lone parents particularly in the current economic climate and in the continuing absence of adequate child care and other supports.
‘Recent national research conducted by One Family found that 84% of lone parents in receipt of the OFP (one-parent family payment) are working, seeking work or are in education or training and that the main concern for parents is trying to balance their work and family life.’
‘The difficulties experienced by lone parents in balancing work and family life are exacerbated by the continuing and growing number of poverty traps facing lone parents and One Family believes that the focus of government policy should now be on addressing such traps and in continuing the development of effective education and training programmes for lone parents involving the ongoing cooperation of state agencies and NGOs, including One Family. ’
Karen Kiernan, Director of One Family said: ‘we look forward to continuing our dialogue with the Minister and her officials and we believe that an upcoming international study tour that we are leading to Nordic countries will yield valuable information on how best to develop effective policies in relation to one-parent families. Sweden and Denmark have low child poverty levels, good outcomes for children and high labour market participation for women including lone parents. It is important that any policy change in Ireland is evidence-based.’
Kiernan concluded: ‘it is also of immense concern to us in One Family that the proposed policy changes are being driven by a view that some parents are not forming live-in relationships primarily because of their social welfare supports. We are not aware of any studies in Ireland that bear this out and in our opinion such a view does not adequately take into account the changing nature of family life in Ireland where a growing number of one parent families are separated or divorced and sharing parenting.’‘Information we have from the Minister’s department is that people in receipt of the One-Parent Family Payment tend to be on it for relatively short periods of time. It would be interesting to know how many people are on the payment and for how long as in our 37 years of working with people parenting alone our experience is that they want to move on as soon as possible.’