Press Release | Lone Parents Thwarted by Systemic Barriers to Accessing Education

Press Release

Lone Parents Thwarted by Systemic Barriers to Accessing Education

Improving access to education and employment for parents will lead to ending child poverty.

(Dublin, Monday 8 August 2016) One Family – Ireland’s organisation for people parenting alone, sharing parenting, and separating – again calls on Government to remove the systemic barriers to education and employment that people parenting alone are thwarted by. Lone parents must be offered an equal chance to progress their and their children’s futures.

Minister for Social Protection, Leo Varadkar, and Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Katherine Zappone, have promised to address the serious issue of child poverty which disproportionally affects children living in one-parent families, and committed to lifting 97,000 children out of consistent poverty. It is by supporting parents in one-parent families to access and remain in education and employment that this can be achieved.  Again, One Family calls for Budget 2017 to urgently address these barriers and to acknowledge the realities for those who parent alone.

Karen Kiernan, One Family CEO, comments: “For years, we’ve been asking Government, ‘Where’s the education and childcare for lone parents for sustainable jobs?’  Research shows that it is not family form which impacts most on children’s outcomes, but poverty and the education level of parents. Enabling and encouraging access to education, for those parents who clearly wish to increase their qualifications, is where Government could be making a real difference. The main barriers facing a lone parent in accessing or returning to education include the lack of financial supports; that someone’s housing tenure is a factor, as Back To Education Allowance (BTEA) and the SUSI maintenance grant are not payable together so that those in private rented accommodation are at a disadvantage; and that there is no childcare support for those going into third level education.”

Government has committed to commission an independent examination to identify the supports and barriers to accessing higher education for lone parents and to examine measures to increase participation, and One Family will contribute to this report.

Karen continues: “This is an important report, though what we will need to see is action. Government must show that it is resourcing one-parent families rather than penalising them. An unnecessarily complex system contributes to these systemic barriers still being in place. Yet Government stated that reform of the One Parent Family Payment and introduction of the Job Seekers’ Transition were ‘to give lone parents seven years to get into education and then into work.’  Where are the opportunities? Where are the supports? Where are the Out-of -School childcare services to support parents, whatever age their children are?”

One Family reiterates its call to Government to enact the recommendations of its Pre-Budget Submission, with an immediate focus on provision of affordable and accessible quality local childcare.  Every parent should have an equal opportunity to create a better future for his or her children.

Lone parents who would like support on accessing education can call askonefamily on 1890 66 22 12 / 01 662 9212. Lone parents who would like to share their perspective on accessing education which One Family can include in its contribution to the commissioned Government report, can email

One Family’s Pre-Budget Submission 2017 can be read/downloaded here.



  • 1 in 8 people in Ireland live in a one-parent family (Census 2011)
  • 1 in 4 families with children in Ireland is a one-parent family (Census 2011)
  • Over half a million people live in one-parent families in Ireland (Census 2011)
  • 5% of one-parent families are headed by a father (Census 2011)
  • Almost 1 in 5 children (18.3%) live in a one-parent family (Census 2011)
  • There are over 215,000 one-parent families in Ireland today – 25.8% of all families with children (Census 2011)

About One Family

One Family was founded in 1972 as Cherish and is Ireland’s leading organisation for one-parent families and people sharing parenting, or separating, offering 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 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 66 22 12, counselling, and provision of training courses for parents and for professionals. One Family also promotes Family Day and presents the Family Day Festival every May, an annual celebration of the diversity of families in Ireland today ( For further information, visit

Further Information or to arrange an interview, please contact:

Shirley Chance, Director of Communications | t: 01 662 9212 or 087 414 8511
Jane Farrell, Communications & Marketing Officer | t: 01 662 9096 or 087 623 0166