One Family calls for tailoring of new afterschool childcare scheme
(Dublin, 24 April 2013) One Family, Ireland’s leading organisation for one-parent families, has welcomed the announcement today by Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton T.D., and Frances Fitzgerald T.D., Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, that the first pilot phase of the new afterschool childcare scheme will begin on Monday 29 April, and reiterated the need for more resources and careful tailoring of the scheme for people who parent alone.
Stuart Duffin, One Family’s Director of Policy & Programmes, responded to the announcement as follows: “This is a welcome initiative to help ensure that those parents who are parenting alone can access, secure and sustain employment without it having an adverse impact on tight family budgets. However, it needs to be tailored so that families, and in particular those parenting alone, have barriers to securing and sustaining work reduced, and the care needs of their families met.”
The childcare service essential to achieve both of these necessary outcomes is out of school care (OSC) which incorporates after school care. The pilot must evaluate demand and in particular the need for out of school care rather than just after school care. This is particularly essential for those parenting alone because as they may not have other dependable adults available lone parents need that peace of mind that their children are being appropriately looked after.
This is a real opportunity for both Ministers to provide ‘in-work’ support to assist in ensuring a route-way out of poverty for working lone parents. OSC is the provision of a safe, caring environment offering a range of active, stimulating and restful activities for school age children before and after school and during holidays, which – combining after school care – enables parents to take up employment, education and training opportunities.
Mr Duffin explained: “Out of school care schemes take parental responsibility for the children in their care. All workers should go pass a Garda disclosure check. OSC services may start between 7.30 and 8.00am to provide childcare before the start of the school day. During school holidays (Easter, Summer, Christmas etc) OSC clubs need to operate all day (usually from 8.00am to 6.00pm) and also during teacher training or in-service days, polling days and half-term holidays.”
It must be ensured that services provide for children in the following ways:
• safety and security with care provided by experienced, trained and qualified staff,
• a range of activities and play equipment all different from, but complementary to, the school curriculum,
• the opportunity to socialise and play with other children.
Equally, it must be ensured that services provide for parents by:
• supporting them to enable them to take up work, education or training opportunities,
• providing peace of mind, knowing that their children will be well cared for, and therefore greater effectiveness at work,
• affording the opportunity to become involved in the planning and running of the club through involvement in the management committee or parent’s advisory group.
OSC benefits employers by providing the means to recruit and retain a stable workforce. It also draws new people into the labour market and improves staff efficiency and staff morale. Within communities, OSC provision assists in the creation of employment and training for local people and provides opportunities for economic development and regeneration, through the creation of new business and new jobs. By providing a service which meets the needs of children, it also contributes to economic and community development, to the quality of life and families and has a major part to play in the promotion of “social inclusion”.
About One Family
One Family was founded in 1972 and is Ireland’s leading organisation for one-parent families. We offer support, information and services to all members of all one-parent families, to those experiencing an unplanned pregnancy and to those working with one-parent families. Children are at the centre of One Family’s 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. These services include the lo-call askonefamily national helpline on 1890 622 212, counselling, and provision of training courses for parents and for professionals. One Family also promotes Family Day, an annual celebration of the diversity of families in Ireland today, with events taking place this year on 19 May (www.familyday.ie). For further information, visit www.onefamily.ie.
Available for Interview
Karen Kiernan, CEO | t: 01 662 9212 or 086 850 9191
Stuart Duffin, Director of Policy & Programmes | t: 01 662 9212 or 087 062 2023