Education key to family well-being

One-parent family organisation One Family today announced a 20 per cent increase in the number of one-parent families and professionals accessing their services in 2005.

Commenting on the significant increase in the demand on One Family’s services at the launch of their new Policy Paper: Ensuring Quality of Life for All One-parent Families, One Family Director, Karen Kiernan, said that ‘the most difficult thing about the increase in families needing our services is that for many, they are trapped in impossible circumstances that they cannot change.’

‘Many solo parents who have fought against the odds to get back into education or employment find themselves struggling to provide a basic good quality of life for their families’ she continued. ‘Balancing work, education, and family and personal life while also having access to affordable, suitable housing and childcare is like managing a complex jigsaw. Just as many families see a positive future in sight, they realise that they are missing a vital piece of the puzzle, such as affordable childcare, and find themselves back where they started. One Family’s Annual Report 2005 highlights the fact that one-parent families come in many different shapes and sizes, with very different needs.’

In the draft Social Partnership agreement, ‘the Government and the social partners recognise the central importance of the family unit to the lives of children and the need to strengthen the system of supports available to children and their families.’ With one in six families in Ireland now a one-parent family, the time has come to face the reality that if we are to really give all children an equal chance, one-parent families must be supported in a coordinated manner to achieve the basic quality of life that all families deserve.

Candy Murphy, Policy & Campaigns Manager at One Family stresses that ‘we can no longer focus on the dichotomy of work versus caring responsibilities – 60 per cent of families on the One Parent Family Payment are already working, so it is no longer possible to say that work on its own is enough. The proposed reforms of financial supports for one-parent families focus on rebalancing the work–parenting relationship, rather than on looking at how policy can break the cycle of multiple inequalities experienced by many one-parent families. Modern life has become increasingly complex. Quality of life entails not only work and parenting, but also access to housing, healthcare, childcare, education and training, as well as to the resources required to participate in community life and in wider society.’

She went on to say that ‘having reviewed the available research, One Family is convinced that the provision of a wide range of education opportunities for both children and adults in one-parent families holds the key to a life free of poverty and inequality for such families. Such educational opportunities must include early childhood development and education, support for continuing participation in education for young parents as well as easy access to second chance education for solo parents, if it is to be successful in improving the overall quality of life of one-parent families in Ireland today.’

For further information contact:
Ruth Coleman (Communications Manager) 01 662 9212/086 174 2315 or Karen Kiernan (Director) 01 662 9212/086 850 9191