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Parenting | Ten Ways to Make the Most of School Breaks

School's outFor some parents the school holiday is a respite time with a more relaxed routine. However, it can be a nightmare for others for many reasons such as not being able to take time off work, lack of childcare options and tight budgets, and so requires a lot of planning and management. As parents we learn quickly that when raising children it is important to develop as many resources as we possibly can.

As part of our ’10 Ways to …’ series of  parenting tips and in celebration of the upcoming school summer holidays here are some tips on how to make school breaks enjoyable for all members of the family so you won’t hear the infamous “I’m bored” – hopefully!

10 Ways to Make the Most of School Breaks

  1. Time off: If you work outside of the home, plan your leave in advance for school holidays. Get the list of days off from the school at the start of each term and use this to plan your time off. If this is not possible, try to finish early over a few days during the mid-term.
  2. Plans: Make plans with children prior to school breaks. Making plans in advance for the days off will ensure that children are clear about what will happen. They will cooperate more if they are involved in making the plans.
  3. Family: Engage the support of family as much as possible at school breaks. If you share parenting with your child’s other parent, agree a system for the school holidays in advance. Grandparents and other family members can love having the chance to have some extra quality time with the children, maybe even a sleepover. Make sure to involve children in any plans and give them the information they need in advance.
  4. Friends: Make plans with other parents for play dates. Maybe you can set up a shared rota?
  5. Fun: Even if you have to work, try to have fun with children during the break. Fun doesn’t have to mean expense. Activities such as cooking, arts and crafts or having a picnic at home are really enjoyable things to do in the comfort of your own home. Plan fun activities out such as going to the park, feeding the ducks, a walk on the beach or going swimming.
  6. Library: Libraries often hold events for children on school breaks and are also a great source of information about what is taking place locally, such as nature walks or music workshops.
  7. Clear Out: Children can really enjoy helping at home. Take the school break as an opportunity to do a spring clean. Get the children involved in planning what needs to be done, make a colourful chart together. Maybe they can clear out their wardrobes and bring some clothes, toys or books to the charity shops. You may find hidden treasures as you go along, to have a dress up day when you finish!
  8. Socialise: Take school breaks as an opportunity to meet other families. There are lots of websites supporting families to meet up and do activities together. If you are feeling isolated, check out the One Family Social Group for starters. It provides a supportive environment for parents to enjoy a day out with other parents in similar circumstances, and is great fun for the children. Email us or call us if you’d like more information.
  9. Routine: It’s important to try to keep the bed time and meal time routines in place while children are on short school breaks. This will ensure that they will not get over tired, and as they are still in their routine when school begins again, the transition will be easier for everyone.
  10. Enjoy: Most of all, enjoy the break from homework as this allows time for other things in the evenings – don’t dread the school breaks.

Next you might like to read more about establishing routines.

‘10 Ways’ parenting tips is written by Geraldine Kelly, One Family’s Director of Children and Parenting Services.

For support and advice on any of these topics, call askonefamily on lo-call 1890 66 22 12 or email support@onefamily.ie.

Questioning Child

10 Ways to Understanding How Your Child May Feel During Separation

Whatever the circumstances, parental separation is hard on families and big changes must be made. Keeping their children at the centre of parenting and responding to the thoughts, feelings and questions a child may have, will help parents to help their child.

Research shows that children normally experience one or more of the following reactions to the separation of their parents:

  1. Loyalty conflict: Children often get caught in the middle.
  2. Does Mum or Dad love someone else?: Although Mum or Dad might not love each other, it is important to reassure the child that they love him/her.
  3. I don’t want to come over today: As they get older, children’s interests vary. They may not want to visit a parent and may just want to spend more time with their friends.
  4. Fantasies of responsibility and reconciliation:  Children may feel they are responsible for their parents’ separation. They may dream up plans to get their parents to reconcile.
  5. Why don’t you love Mum or Dad anymore?: It is not uncommon for children to ponder this question. Often children will blame the parent who they believe initiated the separation and view the other parent as a victim.
  6. If you do not come home, I will never speak to you again: The purpose of a statement like this is to make the parent feel guilty so that they will return home.
  7. Anger: Children between the ages of 8-16 years can experience intense anger. They can often be most angry with the parent they blame for separation, but they may express anger only towards the parent they view as the ‘safest’, usually the resident parent.
  8. What should I tell my friends?: If you want your child to share the situation with others, you must be able to do the same. Encourage your child to be honest about the situation.
  9. Why are you separating?: Children are more likely to ask this if they have not been given a clear explanation for the separation.
  10. Worry about the future: The child may worry about the future. This is more likely to occur where there is parental conflict around contact and maintenance. Parents need to listen to their child’s worries and talk honestly and openly with them about any concerns.

One Family’s  Family Communications –  Parenting When Separated course starts in May 2019 please see details here.  One Family also offer a range of services to parents sharing parenting or parenting alone after separation. You can find out about them here. If you need support, information or advice, contact our lo-call askonefamilyhelpline on 1890 66 22 12 / support@onefamily.ie.

10 Ways to Survive Sleepless Nights

With a young child, one of the most trying times can be night time.  We all expect to be awake with babies and infants, but what if your child is 3 years of age and still waking you at night? Parents and children need their rest after a long day of work, school, or play, although sleep is often interrupted by a cry for help from another room.  As parents, it’s impossible to ignore our children, yet we all need a good night’s sleep and we want the same for our children as well.  Not getting enough sleep can affect how we parent and many other aspects of our lives. We explore 10 Ways to Survive Sleepless Nights.

  1. If you know to expect that your child might call you during the night, it’s best to just accept it rather than dread it, as children will pick up on your anxiety.
  2. Try to get to bed yourself very early at least 3 nights a week – even if you don’t really feel like it – so you can get hopefully 4-5 hours of continuous sleep before the first call from your child.
  3. Stay calm during the night. Remember that it’s okay to forget the rules at times. If they will sleep well in your bed take them in, or get into bed with them if you can. A double bed for young children can be great if you have the space; at least you’ll have room then!
  4. Talk with your child during the day about sleeping. Praise them if they sleep well and try to encourage them to call you when it starts to get bright, not when it is dark. Encourage self-soothing such as cuddling up with favourite teddy bears. Be extra generous with praise for any attempt they make to sleep better in their own bed without calling you. Talk to them about how sleep fills them up with energy for the next day and how they need it for the busy day ahead of them. Help them to understand and like the idea of sleeping, and talk with them about why parents need sleep too.
  5. Try to ensure that during the day (not at bedtime), that you talk over things that are happening with them too. All kinds of things can play on your child’s mind that you might not be aware of: new home, new baby, getting in trouble, starting school etc. Dreams can wake them with anxiety.
  6. If you live with another adult take turns to get up to the child – take every second night – then at least you are both getting a good sleep a few nights every week.
  7. What if you have two children waking in the night? If safe to do so, and you have a big bed and side rails – and you have not been drinking alcohol or are impaired in any way –  it can be good to take them on a sleepover into your bed on occasion. This could mean you all get to sleep till morning, or at least the early hours.
  8. Try not to focus on how little sleep you get. Remember that a lot of parents are in the same situation. Think about how you might be able to incorporate opportunities for sleep into your own routine. If you travel on public transport, perhaps take a nap on the bus or train; or have one in the morning at home if your child is at creche or school. Explore if anyone can mind your child once a week for a few hours during which you can look forward to some sleep; for example, arranging rotating play dates with another parent.
  9. Build some positives into your day. For example, look forward to some nice breakfast to give yourself a boost to get going. Something like fruit and yoghurt doesn’t have to cost much or take a lot of time to prepare. When we are really tired, we can feel somewhat low, especially if we’re parenting alone without many opportunities to plan for some sleep for ourselves; so it’s very important to actively build in these little positives to our routine.
  10. Support your child to sleep well by following a bedtime routine and providing them with a restful space. What is the room like that they sleep in? Do they like it? Do they have cuddly teddies they have a good bond with during the day? Have they a night light? Is it a calm, secure, peaceful area?

Along with this post, you might like to also read ‘10 Ways to Establish a Bedtime Routine.’

’10 Ways to’ is by One Family’s Director of Children and Parenting Services, Geraldine Kelly.

For support and advice on any of these topics, call askonefamily on lo-call 1890 66 22 12 or email support@onefamily.ie. Find out more about our parenting programmes here.

Image credit: Pixabay

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

News | Holiday Opening Hours

One Family offices and askonefamily helpline close for the holiday season on Thursday 21 December 2017, re-opening on Tuesday 2 January 2018.

We wish a joyful and peaceful Christmas and New Year to all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Links to some external services and supports that may be of interest can be found here.

Press Release | Budget 2018: Much More Needed to Lift One-Parent Families out of Government-created Poverty

Press Release

Budget 2018: Much More Needed to Lift One-Parent Families out of Government-created Poverty

Indecon Report: Government saves €45m net but parents and children are poorer despite working

(Dublin, Tuesday 10 October 2017) One Family, Ireland’s organisation for people parenting alone, sharing parenting, and separating, acknowledges the announcement of the partial Income Disregard restoration – following previous budget cuts –  from €110 to €130 per week for One Parent Family Payment (OFP) and Jobseeker’s Transition Payment (JST) recipients, the €5 weekly social welfare payment increase, and the household income threshold for FIS increase by €10 for families of up to three children, along with new housing initiatives. However, it is not enough to lift lone parents and their children out of the consistent poverty and deprivation that resulted from previous reform of the One-Parent Family Payment, and to support them in overcoming systemic barriers in accessing education and employment.

Yesterday the Department of Employment & Social Affairs released the Indecon Independent Review of the Amendments to the One-parent Family Payment since January 2012 which should have formed the basis of changes in Budget 2018 for social-welfare dependent one-parent families. Increases should have been targeted and strategic to reach the poorest children and families across the board, following the evidence and Government commitments to lift 100,000 children out of poverty.

Karen Kiernan, One Family CEO, states: “The Indecon Report is absolutely shocking – more parents are off welfare and working saving the state €45m net but more are living in poverty. There is so much work to be done to ensure that the appropriate services are in place to support people parenting alone into sustainable employment but we did not see that today. Of course, the increase to the Income Disregard is to be welcomed and will help some families.  And of course, it is heartening that Government listened to us and the families we work with on this issue. But we must also ask: why have Ministers not taken action on our other recommendations? Following years of ill-advised cuts and reform that targeted lone parents, this must happen now if the poverty experienced by one-parent families in receipt of social welfare payments is to be reversed.

“What lone parents want is a fair chance, and just like all members of our society, they should have one. Lone parents want to work and to learn; they want to have the opportunity to build brighter futures for their families. But the evidence shows that one-parent families are among those who have borne the brunt of years of austerity, that they still experience proportionally higher levels of poverty than any other members of our society today, and that the systemic barriers to employment and education are still not coming down. The recommendations contained in our Pre-Budget Submission, if implemented, will help to create those fair chances.”

Valerie Maher, One Family Policy & Programmes Manager, comments: “Today’s Budget goes a small way towards supporting lone parents and their children, but so much more is needed. It is alarming to see in the Indecon report that even those working full-time following removal from social welfare are living at risk of poverty and in daily deprivation. The Government must also be concerned about these families and not only those on social welfare.

“Currently we see parents in precarious, low paid employment and this is not a victory for Government policy, or a signpost to continue unchanged in this direction, as more children in more one-parent families are living in consistent poverty.”

One Family’s Pre-Budget Submission 2018 included recommendations designed to support lone parents into education and/or employment, while acknowledging their parenting responsibilities. It can be read here.

NOTES FOR EDITORS

  • One Family’s Pre-Budget Submission 2018 can be read here.
  • Our response to the Indecon Report is here.
  • Indecon Independent Review of the Amendments to the One-parent Family Payment since January 2012 is here.
  • 1 in 4 families with children in Ireland is a one-parent family (Census 2016)
  • 356,203 children lived in one parent families, representing more than one in five or 21.2% of all children in family units (Census 2016)
  • The average one parent family is has 1.63 children compared to an average of 1.95 for the population overall (Census 2016)
  • Of the approximately 56,000 lone parents in receipt of One Parent Family Payment (OFP) or Job Seekers Transition Payment (JST), 34,700 are not engaged in employment and so remain below the income poverty threshold (Dept. of Social Protection, January 2017)
  • There are more than 14,000 One-Parent Family Payment (OFP) recipients in employment, and of 14,500 JST recipients, 5,000 recipients work. Family Income Supplement is also an important support for working parents with approximately 27,000 lone parents in receipt of the payment (Dept. of Social Protection, January 2017)
  • Those living in households with one adult and one or more children aged under 18 had the highest deprivation rate in 2015 at 57.9% (Survey on Income and Living Conditions (SILC) 2015)
  • 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 (SILC 2015)
  • People in lone parent households continue to have the lowest disposable income out of all households with children in the State (SILC 2015)
  • Individuals living in households where there was one adult and one or more children aged under 18 had the highest consistent poverty rate at 26.2%, an increase from 25% in 2014. This is compared to a consistent poverty rate of 7.7% for two-parent households (SILC 2015)
  • For further facts and figures, visit onefamily.ie.

/Ends.

About One Family

One Family, founded in 1972 as Cherish, celebrates 45 years of supporting one-parent families in Ireland 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 and presents the Family Day Festival 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, One Family CEO | t: 086 850 9191

Valerie Maher, One Family Policy & Programmes Manager | t: 086 084 6826

Further Information or to arrange an interview:

Shirley Chance, Director of Communications | t: 01 662 9212 or 087 414 8511
 

Statement | Response to Indecon Report on One Parent Family Payment Reform

One Family Response to the Report ‘Indecon Independent Review of the Amendments to the One-parent Family Payment since January 2012’

A long-awaited report, prepared by Indecon Research Economists on behalf of the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, was released late this afternoon. It is regrettable this this important report has been made available on the evening before Budget 2018 is scheduled to be announced, as it warrants attention that it may not now receive.

Our initial analysis of the 141-page report highlights that:

  • While the Exchequer saves €45m net, lone parents and their children are poorer as a result of the recent reform of the One Parent Family Payment (OFP).
  • It is an in-depth report yet no recommendations and only short conclusions are offered.
  • Can any report guarantee accuracy if some of the survey questions from which the data is drawn provided only positive response options?
  • Where is the recognition of the parenting responsibilities of lone parents? One Family is shocked that childcare appears to be mentioned only twice.
  • Where too is the recognition of the impacts of the fear, stress, and uncertainty placed on lone parents and their children as a result of this reform; and the lack of clarity in its communication and implementation? 43% of parents reported that their family wellbeing decreased due to the reform and 40% said their children’s wellbeing decreased.
  • There is no indication that the marginal increases in employment will have any longevity given the precarious and low paid nature of these employments, and 53% of survey respondents stated that the OFP reforms resulted in being financially worse off. Only 20% noted an improvement.
  • 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.
  • There is no acknowledgment that lone parents in education and in receipt of OFP or Job Seekers Transition Payment (JST) and rent support cannot avail of the SUSI maintenance grant.

The report acknowledges that “a potential concern is that many of those who lost OFP remain unemployed or in low paid or part-time employment” and that “a key challenge for policymakers is to assist lone parents to become more integrated into the Irish labour market.”

One Family’s Pre-Budget Submission includes recommendations that would enable Government to achieve this. The failure of the reform of the OFP means that it is essential that Minister Doherty engage with these recommendations.

They include:

  • Full restoration of the Income Disregard.
  • Allow BTEA and SUSI maintenance to be payable together, targeting those most distant from the labour market.
  • Increased CDAQCI for older children and poorer families.
  • Target employability supports for lone parents.
  • It is also essential that, as we have consistently called for, the Department’s Case Officers receive training to support lone parents appropriately and in recognition of their lived realities.

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

The Indecon report can be read here.

Press Release | Government Must Use the Evidence: New Report Confirms Increased One-Parent Family Poverty

Press Release

Government Must Use the Evidence –

Another New Report Confirms Increased Poverty in One-Parent Families  

(Dublin, Monday 2 October 2017) One Family – Ireland’s organisation for people parenting alone and sharing parenting – responds to the news that a report by Indecon Economic Consultants commissioned by Government to examine the impact of austerity measures on one-parent families confirms what One Family has been saying for years; lone parents and their children who are reliant on social welfare are suffering more since Governmental reform and cuts of the One-Parent Family Payment (OFP) introduced in Budget 2012.

Karen Kiernan, One Family CEO, explains: “Media coverage of the forthcoming research confirms what One Family has been saying for the past five years – the cuts since Budget 2012 were counter-productive, have led to increased child poverty in one-parent families, and must be fully reversed. Government needs to face the facts and respond effectively in this year’s Budget.

“The evidence is piling up showing that lone parents and their children have been damaged by the Budget 2012 cuts including the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Social Protection report in June on The Position of Lone Parents in Ireland; Maynooth University’s research on the barriers to education for lone parents published in August; and Lone Parents and Activation, What Works and Why: A Review of the International Evidence in the Irish Context, commissioned by the Department of Social Protection and conducted by Dr Michelle Millar and Dr Rosemary Crosse of the UNESCO Child & Family Research Centre in NUI Galway, published last September. Each of these reports provides a clear pathway of what is needed.”

The new Indecon report is based on a national survey of 34,000 one-parent families which began in April and is focussed on “the financial, social, poverty, and welfare dependency impacts” caused by cuts and reforms. It was specifically tasked with providing an overview of the impact of these changes to the One-Parent Family Payment and associated social welfare cuts.

Karen continues: “It is not acceptable to ignore vulnerable children and families. Politicians must do their job and follow the evidence. The Government has committed to lifting 100,000 children out of poverty and must use the resources available to them to achieve this. Most poor children live in one-parent families and their childhoods have been hit hard by cuts in recent years. Now there is an opportunity to invest appropriately and to ensure that lone parents can afford to work, can afford to access education, and can afford to feed their families.”

Valerie Maher, One Family Policy & Programmes Manager, states: “There is an extensive submission by leading Irish NGOs in association with Better Outcomes Brighter Futures – the National Strategy for Children and Young People outlining how the Government can reach its target of reducing child poverty rates in Ireland. As detailed in our Pre-Budget Submission for 2018, this is where the focus needs to be ensuring that work pays for lone parents on social welfare by reinstating the income disregard; ensuring that they can access education irrespective of their housing tenure; and focussing payments on the most vulnerable children and young people. The future for these children depends on what actions Government takes now.”

Notes and Links for Editors

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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 or 086 084 6826

Further Information/Scheduling

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

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.