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One Family’s Christmas guide for one-parent families

Christmas can be a wonderful time. It can be a time when we come together to celebrate the passing of another year and to look forward to beginning a new year full of potential and possibility. It can be a time of re-connecting with our family and friends and remembering those who are no longer with us. Yet for all that, it can be a time of enormous stress and for some people tremendous loneliness. Images of happy faces and perfect families in media ads may not match the sadness and pain we may be feeling inside.

For some one-parent families, Christmas can be particularly difficult. It can be a time when painful feelings are magnified. Financial strain, complicated access arrangements, and spending lots of time with relatives can further add to feelings of anxiety and distress.

Becoming aware of and acknowledging the immense pressure you may be feeling during the run up to Christmas is an important step in managing. Planning ahead is critical. Above all, remembering your own values and remembering what’s most important to you and your family is probably the ultimate stress buster for the season.

Some general points to consider

  • Abandon perfectionism! There is no such thing as the perfect Christmas
  • Plan Christmas as early as possible. You may find yourself resisting this idea, however, planning early means you can foresee any potential problems, organise your finances more effectively and ultimately lessen the stress. It may also mean that you have more time to find enjoyment in the season itself when it finally does come
  • Keep things simple
  • Negotiate and finalise access arrangements as early as possible. This will help avoid last minute confusion, stress and fighting
  • Remember, Christmas is often not the time to challenge a person’s behaviour. Christmas is too emotionally charged. If a behaviour is tolerable and does not endanger another person’s wellbeing then it may be better to wait until the Christmas period is over
  • Parents should avoid competing with each other through giving expensive presents. Expensive presents are a poor substitute for telling your child you love them and spending time with them
  • Reassure your child that it is okay to talk about sad feelings at Christmas time. Acknowledging your own feelings without laying blame can be helpful to both your child and you. However, be careful not to use your child as a confidant or peer
  • Try to reach out to those you trust for support
  • If you’re finding it really tough try to find a little joy in each day and write it down in a journal or diary

Christmas Alone

For some members of one-parent families Christmas may be spent alone. Children may be spending their holidays with the other parent this year, or a parent may not have access to the children etc. For some people being on their own at Christmas is enjoyable and can be a time to do things that they wouldn’t normally get done. However for others, being alone at Christmas increases feelings of depression, loneliness and isolation.

If you know that you are spending Christmas alone and know that this will be difficult for you it is really important to devise a coping strategy as soon as possible. Don’t wait on the hope that someone will ask you over and don’t put off thinking about what you will do.

  • Try to encourage yourself to make contact early with distanced family or  friends and explore with them the possibility of sharing Christmas with them
  • If you know other people spending Christmas alone, think about inviting them over for Christmas. “Pot Luck” dinners, where everyone brings a dish, can be an interesting way to break from tradition
  • Tell yourself you are worth it and prepare a special meal for yourself
  • Plan each day well in advance – try to know exactly what you will be doing. A structure can be really helpful during the holidays when you have a lot of time alone
  • Some people find that volunteering or getting involved in local activities can help them re-connect with other people and put meaning back into the season
  • Attending a religious service or communal celebration might also help to give a sense of re-connection with others
  • Get out of the house and go for a walk. Many people go walking on Christmas day
  • Try to avoid things that make you feel worse such as alcohol, recreational drugs, over eating
  • Remind yourself that this is a difficult time and that it will pass
  • Try to plan one outdoor activity each day
  • Write down what you are feeling
  • If you are feeling really lonely, depressed and cannot find a way to reach out to others think about contacting the services below

Coping with sad or painful memories

Christmas is a time when we can become painfully aware of the losses in our lives, the people who have gone from us through bereavement, family separation, past traumas etc.  If you are trying to manage painful feelings at Christmas, here are some ideas that might help:

  • Try not to hide your feelings. Try to find someone you can talk to over the holidays
  • Reassure children and young people that it is okay to feel upset and encourage them to talk about how their feeling
  • Identify one friend that you trust and know you can call on to talk over the holiday. Ask them to be your “listening ear” over the holiday
  • Light a special candle for the person who is missing or for the painful secret or memory you’re trying to cope with. You don’t need to tell anyone the significance of the candle. Candles are an acceptable part of the Christmas décor
  • Keep a diary over the holiday and really use it to write down how you are feeling
  • Drink a toast to absent loved ones, name them
  • It can be helpful for children to remember people who are no longer in their lives through making a special bauble for the Christmas Tree that represents them

Dealing with Conflict

Many of the worst arguments happen at Christmas. Bored children, being cooped up with relatives, the availability of alcohol, and a sense of claustrophobia can create an environment where tensions are high.

  • Try to pre-empt possible arguments by planning access arrangements in advance
  • Try to communicate in a direct, open and honest manner
  • Don’t meet another person’s anger with your anger
  • Respect yourself even if the other parent shows you none
  • Get out for a walk with the children – tire them out
  • Have a bath or take a nap to get away from everyone
  • Be prepared to let some behaviours go over the Christmas period
  • Be willing to compromise if necessary
  • If your child complains about the other parent, try encouraging them to talk directly with that parent
  • Keep adult communication directly between adults. Refuse to use your child as a go-between.

For help and advice

One Family askonefamily Lo-call Helpline | 1890 662 212 | support@onefamily.ie

The Money Advice and Budgeting Service | 0761 07 2000 | www.mabs.ie

Citizens Information Helpline | 0761 07 4000 | 9am to 8pm from Monday to Friday

The Samaritans | 1850 60 90 90 |  24 Hours service

Aware – Defeat Depression | 1890 303 302 | 10am – 10pm from Monday to Sunday

One Family’s Christmas Guide for One-Parent Families | Part II

Christmas can be a wonderful time. It can be a time when we come together to celebrate the passing of another year and to look forward to beginning a new year full of potential and possibility. It can be a time of re-connecting with our family and friends and remembering those who are no longer with us. Yet for all that, it can be a time of enormous stress and for some people tremendous loneliness. Images of happy faces and perfect families in media ads may not match the sadness and pain we may be feeling inside.

Here is part two of our two-part Christmas Guide for One-Parent Families.

Dealing with Conflict

Many of the worst arguments happen at Christmas. Bored children, being cooped up with relatives, the availability of alcohol, and a sense of claustrophobia can create an environment where tensions are high.

  • Try to pre-empt possible arguments by planning access arrangements in advance
  • Try to communicate in a direct, open and honest manner
  • Don’t meet another person’s anger with your anger
  • Respect yourself even if the other parent shows you none
  • Get out for a walk with the children – tire them out
  • Have a bath or take a nap to get away from everyone
  • Be prepared to let some behaviours go over the Christmas period
  • Be willing to compromise if necessary
  • If your child complains about the other parent, try encouraging them to talk directly with that parent
  • Keep adult communication directly between adults. Refuse to use your child as a go-between

Financial Management at Christmas

It’s a really good idea to make a commitment to yourself that you will not over-spend this Christmas. The next step is to budget. The earlier you sit down and budget for the holiday the better. Here are some sample categories which might help:

Category Items listed in detail Estimated cost Total cost
Regular food shopping for 2 week period
Food and drink for specific days i.e. 25th, 26th, 1st
Decorations – Lights, Christmas tree etc
Gifts for children
Gifts for other family members and friends
Clothing
Heating, Lighting
Telephone
Christmas cards and postage
Travel expenses
Socialising
Miscellaneous

Be very realistic – Remember the presents are only the start. Making a realistic list of the expenditure will make it easier to see where you can economise.

Be honest – Can you really afford to fund such a sum? If the answer is no, you must cut back.

Be wary of credit – If you find that you need short-term credit to bridge the gap between normal income and abnormal expenditure at Christmas, decide how you will fund this. Your main options are credit cards, bank or credit union loans or authorised overdrafts. All have advantages as well as disadvantages. Whatever you decide, make sure you can afford to meet the costs of the credit, including interest, after Christmas. Avoid unauthorised lenders.

Dealing with Pressure from Children and Young People                       

Talk to them – It can be really helpful to talk to your children early on about Christmas and explain that you all have a tight budget to work with. If Santa is coming to your house explain to children that Santa has a lot of children throughout the world to visit on Christmas Eve and he has asked parents to tell children to list their top three presents but to expect only one of these, and to understand that he has a budget. It is better to explain to your child that you cannot afford very expensive presents rather than overstretching yourself and getting into debt.

Get them involved in planning – Planning the Christmas with children and young people can help them better understand the pressures of Christmas. It can also be fun working together and help children gain a sense of responsibility.

Self talk – Remind yourself that you are not letting your children down by not getting them exactly what presents they want. Value the love you give them every day of the year. In years to come it will be this they remember rather than how much you spent on them.

Expectations – Remember for many younger children it isn’t the cost of the item that interests them but what they can do with it. Children often find the box more exciting than the gift itself!

Don’t give in to pressure – Children and young people often make demands of their parents. Parents may fear that if they don’t give the child the present they want, then he or she won’t love them. Remind yourself the value of saying “no”. Saying no can help a child understand choices and disappointments. It is far worse for the child or young person to see you upset and anxious about financial difficulties.

Fun Things To Do with Children

Whether you’re with your children for all of the holiday period or have access at certain times, finding fun activities appropriate to the season that don’t cost a lot can be a challenge. Here are some ideas:

  • Christmas carols
  • Christmas lights – Take your child into your nearest town or city to see the lights at night or take a tour of your locality
  • Decorate your tree together
  • Feed the ducks or swans, or put out a bird feeder together. Animals can find it hard to get food this time of year
  • Check out your local library for details of free activities held for children over December and January
  • Bake a cake together
  • Make homemade sweets and cookies to give out as presents
  • Make a jig saw together
  • Visit your local art gallery, most galleries have free activities and workshops for children with materials provided
  • Go swimming
  • Visit your local park, or the botanical gardens in Dublin to watch the squirrels
  • Have books and DVDs ready to entertain
  • The national concert hall in Dublin hold a range of events for children
  • Visit museums – our national museums have free admission and offer many family-friendly tours and activities
  • Wrap up well and get plenty of fresh air
  • Winter picnics can be fun too – bring a flask and check out adventure playgrounds in your area
  • Make Christmas decorations – it’s easy and fun to string together pop corn to hang on the tree, or paper chains
  • Visit a pantomime – matinees are usually offered at a reduced cost

Part one of our Christmas Guide includes advice on Taking the Stress out of Christmas, Christmas Alone, and Coping with Sad or Painful Memories. Click here to read it.

For help and advice

One Family askonefamily Lo-call Helpline | 1890 662 212 | support@onefamily.ie

The Money Advice and Budgeting Service | 0761 07 2000 | www.mabs.ie

Citizens Information Helpline | 0761 07 4000 | 9am to 8pm from Monday to Friday

The Samaritans | 1850 60 90 90 |  24 Hours service

Aware – Defeat Depression | 1890 303 302 | 10am – 10pm from Monday to Sunday

Policy | Most Recent Employment Figures from CSO

The Quarterly National Household Survey released today by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) reveals the most recent employment statistics for the period April-June (Q2) 2017. One Family has analysed the findings in relation to people who are parenting alone.

  • In Q2 2017, the employment rate of lone parents (aged 15-64) was 58.5% (up 2.1% from 56.4%). This compares with 73.9 % (up 0.9% from 73.0%) for the adult members of couples without children and 76% (up 3.9% from 72.1%) for the adult members of couples with children.
  • The employment rate of lone parents (aged 15-64) whose youngest child was aged 0 to 5 years was 46.8% (up 0.8% from 46.0%) in Q2 2017 compared to 59.8 % (up 2.6% from 57.2%) where the youngest child was aged 6 to 11, and 65.6% (up 9.2% from 56.4%) where the youngest child was aged 12 to 17. This indicates that, as children get older, the prohibitive costs of childcare are reduced and lone parents are more likely to engage in work.
  • There were 6,400 (down 1,400 from 7,500) lone parents classified as long-term unemployed in Q2 2017, compared to 22,400 (down 12,000 from 34,400) adult members of couples with children classified as long-term unemployed in the same period.
  • On average, 55.3% (up 1.2% from 54.1%) of lone parents were participating in the labour market in Q2 2017. The participation rate of males in couples with children was 87.1% (down  0.7% from 87.8%) while the corresponding participation rate for females was 64.2% (down 0.2% from 64.4%). This dispels the myth that lone parents are not engaging in, and seeking, work outside the home.

One Family remains acutely concerned about the numbers of lone parents in precarious and low-paid employment, particularly since the reform of the One-Parent Family Payment that has pushed many lone parents into employment that has kept them and their children living in poverty.

The Survey on Income and Living Conditions (SILC) 2015 results released in January 2017 showed that 58% (almost three in five) of lone parent households with one or more children experienced enforced deprivation. This compares to 25% of the general population who experienced deprivation. People in lone parent households continue to have the lowest disposable income out of all households with children in the State.

The Indecon Independent Review of the Amendments to the One-parent Family Payment since January 2012, released last Monday, showed that 63% of the respondents in full-time employment stated that they cannot afford 3+ items on the deprivation list, meaning that they are most definitely experiencing deprivation daily, and in-work poverty.

Further Quarterly National Household Survey information from the CSO is available here.

Training | Call for Working Lone Parents

Are you a lone parent who has recently returned to work? Could you help One Family to pilot our new online programme on work-life balance for working lone parents this October and November?

We are looking for:
• Lone parents who are currently in work;
• With reliable internet access via a computer or smart phone, and;
• Availability to take part during October-November 2017.

Modules included in this brand new free online course for lone parents who have just re-entered the workforce:
1. Communicate more effectively with your employer; learn to ask your employer the right questions to get what you need.
2. Your rights and responsibilities; Find all the most relevant and up to date resources on your rights as an employee and as a parent.
3. In-work supports; Find out what supports you are eligible for as a working lone parent, and what kinds of supports you can achieve within your work environment.
4. Your go-to guide to childcare; Find the best option for you, and stay up to date on government childcare schemes.
5. Balancing finances as a working parent; Access useful online resources like a money guide and budget calculator.

By taking part in this pilot, you can develop a better understanding of how to achieve your own work-life balance and you will be contributing to making this course better for parents in the future. By giving your feedback, you will have a say in what topics you think should be covered in a course like this – for both employees and employers. Your input will influence how future courses are developed, and your views will be used to help inform and educate all types of employers on how to better meet the needs of lone parent employees. There is no fee for this course.

If you are interested in taking part, please call us at 01 662 9212 and ask for Neda, or email info@onefamily.ie.

Policy | New Initiatives for Lone Parent Access to Higher Level Education

The Department of Education has today issued a review completed by academics at Maynooth University which sought to identify the barriers lone parents face in accessing higher level education. The review also examined the trends in participation and completion rates by lone parents in higher education and the range of measures that are currently available to support lone parents. One Family was consulted as part of this process as a representative stakeholder group.

The recommendations of the Report echo One Family’s recent Pre-Budget Submission. Lone parents need additional supports that recognise their parenting responsibilities in order to access educational opportunities.

A summary of the key findings from the report is below:

  • Lone parents have attracted considerable policy attention in welfare and education and training, but much less specific attention has been paid to lone parents in higher education and seeking to widen access for these families.
  • Key areas of social policy which are impacting on access to education include One Parent Family Payment (OFP) reform, housing, and childcare policy.
  • Some lone parents are likely to experience considerable challenges in meeting the costs of attending college, paying rent, raising a family, working, and paying for childcare. These financial constraints are likely to influence decision-making around attending higher education either on a part-time or full-time basis.
  • While the maintenance portion of SUSI education grants only provides a contribution towards the costs of participating in education, because lone parents have higher living costs than school leavers, the efficacy of the student grant is limited further.
  • The complexity of the current system of supports was also highlighted in the report, including the inadequate dissemination of information, guidance and awareness raising to lone parents regarding the ‘bundles’ of supports that are offered by different government departments and agencies. Intreo case workers also require more training and awareness in this area.

Based on these findings the following recommendations have been made to Government to increase lone parents’ participation in education at third level:

  • The maintenance grant contribution by SUSI must be reviewed and increased for all students, and particularly for lone parents.
  • Lone parents who have transferred to BTEA were highlighted as the most economically vulnerable group among lone parent welfare recipients. The re-instatement of the student grant scheme – maintenance grant – for this group would create a more equitable, less complicated and targeted approach for supporting lone parents in higher education.
  • Meeting the needs of lone parents should be part of the ethos of each Higher Education Institutions (HEI). This needs to be very explicitly stated by colleges and universities who have the responsibility of welcoming lone parents into its campus and giving them the tools and supports to succeed.
  • Provide additional funding for lone parents either in the form of cash transfers or in the form of universal scholarships for lone parents within HEIs
  • Measures introduced under the proposed Affordable Childcare Scheme should be articulated in a clear and meaningful way to lone parents, HEIs, lone parent representative groups and Intreo case workers. It is also important that all lone parents, irrespective of welfare entitlements, or if they are studying part-time or full-time have access to supported childcare.

The full report  ‘An Independent Review to Identify the Supports and Barriers for Lone Parents in Accessing Higher Education and to Examine Measures to Increase Participation’  is available here.

Following publication of the report, the Minister for Education and Skills, Richard Bruton, TD, and the Minister of State for Higher Education, Mary Mitchell O’Connor, TD, have announced €16.5m for new initiatives to widen access to higher education over the next three years, and declared a focus on helping lone parents to access higher level education.

The initiatives, according to the Department of Education and Skills, are:

  • Funding bursaries worth €5,000 for 600 students coming from non-traditional backgrounds into college, with support for at least 120 socio-economically disadvantaged lone parents. This will be a €6m regional call over three years.
  • Funding for support programmes to help 2,000 students, of which 200 will be lone parents, from non-traditional backgrounds enter college and successfully complete their course. This will be a €7.5m regional call over three years.
  • A further €3m over three years in increased funding for the hardship supports to help students, with lone parents being prioritised.
  • The groups being targeted include: entrants from under-represented socio-economic groups and communities; entrants with disabilities; mature entrants; members of the Irish Traveller community; students entering on the basis of a further education award; part-time flexible learners; as well as socio-economically disadvantaged lone parents and ethnic minorities.

While these initiatives are to be welcomed, we call on Government to take further action on the recommendations contained in this comprehensive Report and in our Pre-Budget Submission, and to ensure that appropriate budgetary decisions are made in the coming weeks to support these measures.

Policy | One Family’s Budget 2018 Recommendations

Ahead of the annual Pre-Budget Forum taking place today, One Family joined with Barnardos, Children’s Rights Alliance, National Youth Council of Ireland and the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul to call on Government to ensure Budget 2018 includes key provisions to tackle child poverty as we are deeply concerned that one in nine children in Ireland remain in consistent poverty. We believe not enough is being done to remedy this. You can read our jointly issued press release here.

One Family’s Pre-Budget Submission 2018 targets child poverty as, according to SILC (2008-2015), children in one-parent households are almost four times more likely to live in consistent poverty than those in two-parent households. Our Submission also focuses on in-work supports to make work pay. Reforms of the One-Parent family Payment (OFP) have resulted in only marginal increases in employment rates for some one-parent families, a reduction in employment for those children over 12, and higher rates and child poverty and deprivation in these families. The other areas we focus on are:

  • Housing & Homelessness,
  • Access to Education & Training,
  • Early Years, Out-of-School and Afterschool Childcare, and
  • Family Law Courts Reform.

You can read our Pre-Budget Submission 2018, which includes our analysis and recommendations, on this link.

#EndChildPoverty

#MakeWorkPay

#Budget2018

 

Press Release | Cherish/One Family Celebrates 45 Years of Achievement for Lone Parents Including Abolition of Status of Illegitimacy

Press Release

Cherish/One Family Celebrates 45 Years of Achievement for Lone Parents Including Abolition of Status of Illegitimacy

Reiterates that Government Action is Needed Now to Stop Rising Rates of Child Poverty

 Organisation moves to Smithfield, Dublin 7 in July

(Dublin, Tuesday 27 June 2017) One Family – Ireland’s organisation for people parenting alone and sharing parenting – celebrates its 45th anniversary in 2017. One Family was founded as Cherish in 1972. In that year, Maura O’Dea Richards placed an ad in the paper in the hope of reaching other women who were unmarried with children. A small group of brave, determined women soon banded together and went on to provide supports and services and to campaign for change despite widespread societal resistance. One Family relocates to a more accessible and larger building in Smithfield, Dublin 7 in July to be able to offer services to more parents and children in one-parent families.

Two of the organisation’s most significant achievements were the introduction of the unmarried mother’s allowance in 1973, as the One Parent Family Payment was then called, and the abolition of the status of illegitimacy in 1987. This work has continued and expanded. A name change to One Family in 2004 recognised the new diversity of family forms headed by one parent. Today, while society has progressed, many of the same barriers that must be overcome by people parenting alone as they attempt to access employment and education remain; and the Constitution, far removed from the reality for today’s families, still only recognises the married family form.

Karen Kiernan, One Family CEO, comments: “Tomorrow we will also release our Annual Review for 2016, highlighting that child poverty rates continue to increase and that one-parent families remain those most at risk of consistent deprivation. This is a direct result of the barriers that prevent people who parent alone from accessing sustainable employment and education opportunities, such as lack of affordable childcare and secure housing. We saw an increase in 2016 of clients becoming, and at risk of, homelessness. We also saw a significant increase in calls to our askonefamily helpline from parents who are separating, particularly in requests for supports for children experiencing parental separation.

Karen continues: “We are proud to celebrate our 45th year and all that has been achieved to date. Our history inspires us to never give up. We will continue to fight to ensure that Government takes urgent, real action to stop the rising rates of child poverty in Ireland today and to ensure provision of the services and supports that lone parents and separating parents and their children need.”

Tomorrow, Wednesday 28 June, Cherish House and its decades of history will be celebrated with an exhibition featuring photographs, documents, letters and other items from One Family’s archives. An Open Door Day runs from 10am-4pm and members of the public with connections to Cherish/One Family are invited to visit 2 Lower Pembroke Street, Dublin 2 to share their memories of Cherish House.

One Family’s Annual Review 2016 is available to read here.

One Family is fundraising for refurbishment of its new headquarters in Smithfield. Information can be found here.

/Ends.

About One Family One Family was founded in 1972 as Cherish and celebrates its 45th year in 2017 when the organisation will also relocate to Smithfield, Dublin 7. It 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 662212, counselling, and provision of training courses for parents and for professionals. One Family also promotes Family Day every May, an annual celebration of the diversity of families in Ireland today (www.familyday.ie).

For further information, visit www.onefamily.ie.

Available for Interview

Karen Kiernan, CEO | t: 01 662 9212 or 086 850 9191

Valerie Maher, Policy & Programmes Manager | t: 01 662 9212

Further Information/Scheduling

Shirley Chance, Director of Communications | t: 01 622 9212 or 087 414 8511

 

News | Our 45th Anniversary Media Interviews and Open Door Day

One Family celebrates 45 years in 2017. We were founded by a small group of strong, brave women in 1972. You can read more about our history here. This year, we will also be moving from Cherish House on Lower Pembroke Street, our home for over 40 years, to our new building in Smithfield, Dublin 7 next month. It is fully accessible and larger, so that we can further extend our services to support even more parents and children through difficult times.

Yesterday our founding member Maura O’Dea Richards and our CEO Karen Kiernan were interviewed on RTÉ Radio 1’s Ray D’Arcy Show. Maura shared her personal story, including how she had to hide her pregnancy and how she fought for the right to rear her child, in a passionate, funny and moving interview which you can listen to on this link.

It was an honour to receive the following message from President Michael D Higgins for Maura, which was sent to,and read out on, the Ray D’Arcy Show:

For many years single mothers in our society were an excluded group of people without a voice. I thank you for all you’ve done in promoting an inclusive citizenship by ensuring that lone parents and their children are treated with respect and are valued as a family within our society.

Your contribution to changing the landscape for lone parents in this county has been a significant one. I congratulate you for your dedication and commitment and I wish you every success in the future.

President Michael D Higgins

Today in the Irish Times, Sheila Wayman speaks with three women about their experiences of parenting alone across the generations, and across four decades, to ask what has or has not changed in Irish society in the time since our founding? Sharing their stories are our founding member Evelyn Forde, Sharon Keane and Lee Nagle. You can read the feature here.

Tomorrow, Wednesday 28 June, we invite people who would like to wish farewell to Cherish House to join us between 10am-4pm for our Open Door Day when an exhibition of photographs and archive materials will be on display at 2 Lower Pembroke Street, Dublin 2.

If you would like to support our Building Futures Fund and the refurbishment of our new building, you can find out more here.

 

 

Press Release | Census 2016 Reflects the Real Diversity of Families in Today’s Modern Ireland

Press Release

Census 2016 Shows Increase in One-Parent Family Households and in People who are Divorced Reflecting the Real Diversity of Families in Today’s Modern Ireland

Government must step up with policies and services

(Dublin, Thursday 6th April 2017) One Family – Ireland’s organisation for people parenting alone, sharing parenting, and separating – responds to the latest Census 2016 figures released today by the Central Statistics Office (CSO).

The Census shows that there were 218,817 families in Ireland headed by one parent in 2016; an increase of over 3,500 families since Census 2011. The vast majority, 86.4%, were headed by women. Almost 90,000 of these parents indicated that they were single; a further 50,496 were widowed; and the remaining 68,378 were separated or divorced. Nationally, the number of divorced people in Ireland has increased from 87,770 in 2011 to 103,895 in 2016, an increase of 16,125 persons. This is an increase of over 44,000 people in the last ten years. In contrast, the number of people identifying as separated has levelled off and stood at 118,178. This is up marginally from 116,194 five years earlier.

One Family CEO Karen Kiernan comments: “There has been a 1.2% increase in the number of children living in one parent families with almost 1 in 5 children in Ireland (19.5%) now living in a one-parent family. This reflects the evidence that we have from working with families, from listening to them, and understanding their lived realities. It shows that family form is not, and has never been, static. However, services and policies are very often static, and do not reflect the reality of family diversity. Families are left without the supports they need. Lack of supports to separate well, lack of anti poverty measures and lack of mediation services around the country are clear examples of this gap. Government must look at new inter-departmental approaches if it is serious about fixing this problem, and working towards a society where all families are equally cared for and enabled to contribute.”

One Family Policy & Programmes manager, Valerie Maher, comments: “As divorce in Ireland generally requires a period of separation in the first instance, up to five years, the figures reflect both a progression for people from separation to divorce, combined with more people becoming separated. A Private Members Bill reducing the mandated waiting period to initiate divorce proceedings from four years to two is being debated before the Dáil today. We launched the results of Ireland’s First National Shared Parenting Survey in January. Over 1,000 women and men told us what is needed to support them and their children. Government must listen to their voices now, and implement our policy recommendations to ensure that separating parents are supported to keep children at the centre of parenting, thus ensuring better outcomes for all members of the family.”

Census findings reflect what One Family has been saying for years: Ireland’s families come in all shapes and sizes. Further information and analysis on families will be released in June this year. It is time for Government and society to embrace this wonderful diversity.

Notes for Editors

/Ends.

About One Family

One Family was founded in 1972 as Cherish and celebrates its 45th year in 2017. It 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 662212, counselling, and provision of training courses for parents and for professionals. One Family also promotes Family Day every May, an annual celebration of the diversity of families in Ireland today (www.familyday.ie).

One Family launched the results of Ireland’s first national Shared Parenting Survey. The full report can be read here.

For further information, visit www.onefamily.ie.

Available for Interview

Karen Kiernan, CEO | t: 01 662 9212 or 086 850 9191

Valerie Maher, Policy & Programmes Manager | t: 01 662 9212

Further Information/Scheduling

Shirley Chance, Director of Communications | t: 01 622 9212 or 087 414 8511

 

Policy | Ireland’s First National Shared Parenting Survey: Results & Recommendations

SPResults_Cover Image_LRIn 2016, One Family devised and conducted Ireland’s first national Shared Parenting Survey in response to a lack of public debate and narrative around shared parenting in modern Ireland. Over one thousand women and men who share parenting, or who have attempted to, responded.

The results have been analysed, and we are pleased to now publish a report entitled Ireland’s First National Shared Parenting Survey: Results & Recommendations which can be read or downloaded by clicking on the image on the left.

Key findings include:

  • The majority of respondents whose child does not live with them most of time, spend time with their child on a weekly basis.
  • While almost 27% of respondents arranged this time amicably between them, for almost 51% it was agreed with difficulty, through mediation or court ordered.
  • 62% of respondents whose child lives with them most or all of the time stated that their child’s other parent contributes financially to their child’s costs; 38% stated that the other parent does not contribute financially.
  • Just over 50% of respondents stated that they do not make decisions jointly on issues that impact on their child(ren).
  • Over 34% of respondents have attended mediation.

One Family extends its sincere gratitude to each of the parents who took the time to share their personal experiences. This report draws directly from their survey responses and includes many of their comments. One Family believes that their honesty and openness will help to make Ireland a better place to share parenting in the future.