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A July of Fear and Insecurity for over 9,000 Lone Parents

Press Release

A July of Fear and Insecurity for over 9,000 Lone Parents

One Family will state at the pre-budget forum that Department of Social Protection has put lone parent families in the frontline of austerity and the back of the queue for the recover. 

www.onefamily.ie

(Dublin, Thursday 3 July 2014) One Family – Ireland’s organisation for one-parent families – is participating  in Department of Social Protection’s pre-budget forum tomorrow, where One Family’s Stuart Duffin and a lone parent member of One Family’s Budget Panel will call for joined up thinking and security. The whole of Government must enable lone parents to create better futures rather than implementing further complicated systems that result in continued entrapment in poverty for families already on the edge, such as those being implemented today with changes to the One-Parent Family Payment.

“If you looked at me you’d never think I have only €16 to my name. I wear a suit to work in a very well-known company, my son is in a good crèche, I live in a 3 bedroom house (because it’s €100k in negative equity so I can’t afford to sell it). And here I am, without money for food.”

– Lone parent quoted in One Family’s Pre-Budget Submission 2015

58% of lone parents in Ireland are working, often in low paid part-time employment. Some working lone parents now face a barbaric income reduction of up to €200 per month.  The changes – first announced in Budget 2012 – are causing great confusion and stress to lone parents.  These men and women are not asking for hand-outs but to be supported as they strive towards bettering their children’s futures. The Department of Social Protection has put one-parent families in the frontline of austerity and the back of the queue for recovery due to the lack of development of joined up policies and supports. These cuts without supports such as out of school care, access to part-time education and less earned income have resulted in what feels like a sustained attack on one-parent families.

Karen Kiernan, One Family CEO, comments: “Food banks symbolise the insecurity facing so many.  More needs to be done to understand and tackle the reasons why families have to access free food to live. We need a new approach that prioritises secure futures for one-parent families and that will reduce child poverty. Lone parents want and are keen to work yet the short-sighted nature of social welfare measurements firmly put one-parent families in deeper and deeper pits of poverty.”

The Pre-Budget Forum on Friday will be hosted by Minister Joan Burton. Its purpose is to provide organisations including One Family to input into the Budget process and to discuss their Pre-Budget Submissions with the Minister and senior officials of the Department.

Stuart Duffin, One Family Director of Policy and Programmes, comments: “On Friday we will highlight that this is a chance to move on from attacking the victims of poverty to addressing its causes – such as the lack of decently paid jobs, expensive housing and unaffordable childcare that have left many lone parents doing too much of the heavy lifting out of poverty. The ridiculous reduction in the Income Disregard combined with the mediaeval threshold nature of FIS and its annual review disincentive the ability to work. One-parent families are consistently those most at risk of or living in poverty in Ireland. Now is the time for some real vision and ambition in tackling the root causes of family poverty by investing in lone parents and making work pay. We will also voice our 10 Solutions – ten practical solutions that Government could implement at no or low-cost yet which would result in real progression for one-parent families – which form the basis of our Pre-Budget Submission.”

Simple actions will deliver investment in one-parent families:

  1. Reform the Income Disregard into a Tax credit paid into the pay packet,
  2. Deliver free part-time education,
  3. Invest in the economic benefits of Out of School Childcare and Recreations (OSCAR).

One Family is hearing from lone parents to its askonefamily helpline and through our monthly surveys and Facebook page that these changes will make it almost impossible for many of those who are already working to sustain their employment. The reality is that these changes could mean an increase of over 55,000 more people onto the live register over the next 3 years as lone parents are transitioned to Job Seekers Allowance without adequate Government supports such as the long-promised affordable, local, quality childcare. Recipients of the OFP are excluded from schemes like Jobs Plus so there is, in effect, also a disincentive in place for employers to employ them.

One Family’s Pre-Budget Submission can be read here: http://www.onefamily.ie/wp-content/uploads/One-Family-2015-Pre-Budget-Submission_June-2014.pdf

More information about One Family’s 10 Solutions can be read here: http://www.onefamily.ie/policy-campaigns/one-family-campaigns/ten-solutions-for-smarter-futures/

Parents affected by the changes can contact askonefamily lo-call helpline for advice and support on 1890 66 22 12 or by emailing support@onefamily.ie

/Ends.

About One Family

One Family was founded in 1972 and is Ireland’s leading organisation for one-parent families offering 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 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, CEO | t: 01 662 9212 or 086 850 9191

Stuart Duffin, Director of Policy & Programmes | t: 01 662 9212 or 087 062 2023

Further Information/Scheduling

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

 

 

Children & Family Relationships Bill | Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice Hearings

Today Karen Kiernan, One Family’s CEO and Stuart Duffin, our Director of Policy & Programmes, attended the hearings by the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice in relation to the Children & Family Relationships Bill and highlighted our concerns regarding ancillary supports for court, child safety issues and Child Contact Centres. Karen’s presentation is included below and the full transcript of the discussion can be read here on Oireachtas.ie, with our submission on page 5 and follow-up questions later in the document.

Introduction

One Family is Ireland’s leading organisation for one-parent families, providing services to people parenting alone, sharing parenting and going through family transitions. Our policy work is rooted in our extensive family support work over the past four decades.

We welcome the heads of this Bill as it is long overdue and badly needed to support the thousands of families in need of family law services every year. This Bill attempts to reflect the realities that many children and their parents experience in Ireland today and to provide safety and security for them.

We refer the Committee to our written submission for an overview of all our  recommendations; however, today we are going to focus our comments on issues relating to Part 7 – Guardianship, Custody and Access, Part 8 – Safeguarding Interests of Children and Part 9 of the Bill – Making Parenting Orders Work.

We are very familiar in One Family with the practical, financial and legal challenges faced by mothers and fathers going through the family law courts in relation to separation, custody, access, maintenance, domestic violence and related issues. We have been particularly concerned with the lack of information and services available to family law courts when they attempt to make orders in relation to these issues.

Child Contact Centres

We undertook research into the need for Child Contact Centres in Ireland which we published in 2009. Child Contact Centres are safe, neutral and child-centred services where children can spend time with their non-resident parent. They are widespread outside Ireland and are used by courts, social services and families as safe places for high-conflict families to facilitate children having an ongoing relationship with the parent whom they do not live with who is often their father.

Following this research we received funding for a two year pilot project which we delivered in partnership with Barnardos. We offered family and risk assessments, court reports, contact services including handovers, supported contact and supervised contact, family support services including counselling, play and art therapy for children, parent mentoring and mediated parenting plans. These services cost about €200K per year and have closed due to lack of funding.

The independent evaluation of this project was launched last week at an event attended by five members of the judiciary, a large number of legal practitioners as well as family support services, with overwhelming support for the service expressed and offers of resources made. The key policy issues that have arisen through this work which were also published last week are extremely relevant to the Children & Family Relationships Bill and there is an opportunity to get this right for children in the future.

Evidence-based Court Orders

At the moment, family law courts are making critical decisions about children and families in a vacuum. They do not make evidence-based decisions, unlike other branches of law. Irish family law courts do not have independent, quality information on the families presenting to them because unlike other jurisdictions we do not have a court welfare system. This must change.

It is not possible for Head 32: Best interests of the child for example or Head 63: Enforcement Orders to function as you might envisage if courts are not resourced with relevant background information on the family. Children are having unsafe and unsuitable contact with their non-resident parent on a daily basis in Ireland because courts are ordering it as there is a strong pro-contact assumption inherent in family law, because courts do not have full information on the extent and impact of domestic violence and abuse, because courts do not have independent information on addiction and mental health issues, because parents may not recognise the negative impact of violence on their children or their ability to parent, and because courts do not have anywhere to refer parents to for family or contact supports.

So what are the solutions and what can you do?

The provision of a court welfare system must be included in this legislation as family assessments are the basis for making evidence-based decisions. The need for courts and social services to collaborate much more closely to ensure the safety of children is required. A range of appropriate family support services must be included that families can be referred to including a national network of Child Contact Centres. Children’s voices and their best interest may be more appropriately determined through external independent services as was facilitated in Child Contact Centres. The legislation should be clearer around domestic violence and abuse and the required support systems. The legislation must be clear on the range, the benefits and limitations of family supports. There is a serious impediment to people with low incomes accessing family supports however and resourcing needs to be looked at in the future.

Inclusion in this legislation is just one of the steps required to ensure safety for children in private family law proceedings and to avoid repeated court visits for high-conflict families. We estimate that each of the 17 Child & Family Agency areas could have a comprehensive, trained and accredited Child Contact Centre service including all family assessments, contact services and family support services for a total cost of €3.5m per year. We believe that this is excellent value for money particularly compared to legal or court based supports and this is a defined rather than open funding stream.

Karen Kiernan Stuart Duffin One Family

One Family 10 Solutions

Government must Prioritise Childcare Provision as a Downturn-Buster

Press Release

Childcare 101 – Government must Prioritise Childcare Provision as a Downturn-Buster

(Dublin, Monday 7 April 2014) One Family – Ireland’s leading organisation for one-parent families in Ireland today – outlines the three major reasons that provision of affordable, accessible childcare is a necessity if Ireland is to make a full economic recovery soon. A new report due for release by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) will show that a family in Ireland with two children spends 40% of its average wage to meet childcare costs. Ireland is one of the most expensive countries worldwide for childcare services, second only to the US, and this is financially crippling and impeding low income and one-parent families from successfully moving into or staying in employment.

ONE: The rising participation of women in paid work has heightened demands for affordable, high-quality child care programmes, particularly for those parenting alone. There is a greater focus on the need for programmes that can prepare children to succeed at school, improve the well-being of vulnerable children, and enable the participation of parents in the labour force and in continuing education. Provision of childcare delivers on the Government’s own policy of welfare to work.

TWO: Childcare must be seen as a whole of Government programme and childcare policy should be integral to the attack on poverty. Channelling support for parents through the tax system will help to make work pay. Stuart Duffin, One Family Director of Policy & Programmes, comments: “In Ireland, childcare is mainly left to the market. The unsurprising consequence is that the poorer the area, the scarcer and less affordable the childcare. Affordable, available childcare remains a myth for too many families. Focussing and delivering on an outcome based budget this year, which asserts the enabling role of childcare across Government, will deliver a thriving economy and create better lives for all families, particularly those parenting alone for whom the welfare trap can be more difficult to escape.”

THREE: High quality, regulated childcare (through an enhanced quality assurance system), incentivised through tailored tax credits, will give Ireland a leading edge for inward investment. Good childcare also promotes quality jobs, quality careers and a quality workforce. A new Community Employment initiative treats its childcare placements like an apprenticeship. This is a structured and quality labour-market entry programme for those who want to progress into employment in this area. One Family calls for increased availability of these places, which will enable those in receipt of social welfare benefits an opportunity to move into gaining real marketable skills, and raise the level of professionally qualified workers in the sector. Childcare promotes economic and workforce development.

One Family reiterates its call to Government to enact its 10 Solutions campaign, with an immediate focus on childcare.  All children deserve the best start in life.

Further information on One Family’s 10 Solutions is available here.

About One Family

One Family was founded in 1972 and is Ireland’s leading organisation for one-parent families offering 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 the Family Day Festival, an annual celebration of the diversity of families in Ireland today, with 10,000 people attending in 2013 (www.familyday.ie). For further information, visit www.onefamily.ie.

Available for Interview

Stuart Duffin, Director of Policy & Programmes | t: 01 662 9212 or 087 062 2023

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

One Family 10 Solutions

Childcare Provision Failure is One of Government’s Harshest Blows to One-Parent Families

Press Release

Childcare Provision Failure is One of Government’s Harshest Blows to One-Parent Families

www.onefamily.ie

(Dublin, Wednesday 19 March 2014) One Family – Ireland’s leading organisation for one-parent families in Ireland today – responds to the pending publication of a new report due for release later this month by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) which will show that a family in Ireland with two children spends 40% of its average wage to meet childcare costs. Ireland is one of the most expensive countries worldwide for childcare services.

One Family has been calling for affordable, accessible childcare for many years and putting forward to Government our no-cost and low-cost solutions as part of our 10 Solutions campaign. Lack of childcare remains one of the greatest barriers to lone parents wishing to return to work and/or education. Karen Kiernan, One Family CEO, responds to the pending publication of the OECD report as follows: “This new report is timely. Currently Minister Fitzgerald is reviewing the myriad of child support schemes and their impact on low income families. One Family is recommending an amalgamation of supports into a single accessible and tailored Childcare and Out of School Care financial support programme to ensure work pays for low income families and enables them to get out of consistent and persistent poverty.”

Lone parents on social welfare will be activated (turned into job-seekers) when their youngest child is 7 years old. Success relies on activation being underpinned by local, affordable, accessible and quality child and out of school care. This is not the case as the spread and reach of services is patchy.  Stuart Duffin, One Family’s Director of Policy & Programmes, comments, “There is little room for injecting funding into delivery of existing services so we need to be creative, innovative and entrepreneurial in how we craft and model provision using available resources and assets. The outcomes need to support the needs of parents and the exchequer.”

Worldwide, many innovative schemes are in place. Yesterday a major new childcare package was launched in the UK. It aims to help millions of parents, enabling them to go out to work and providing more security for their families, while directing extra support to those children from disadvantaged backgrounds through a tax free Childcare allowance. In New Zealand, the Out of School Care and Recreation (OSCAR) Subsidy is proving to be a good economic policy.

Government is charged to commit to protecting and building childcare and out of school care spaces in both the short and long term, for families in transition and particularly for those parenting alone. For low-income parents, the lack of access to quality and affordable childcare remains a fundamental challenge to participation in the labour market. Their ability to work is jeopardised which makes the entire childcare system vulnerable and ultimately the economy as a whole. Provision of childcare and OSCAR, both before and after-school care, is an economic driver. A value-for-money and quality assured childcare service can be delivered by a well designed tax credit system which can provide the targeted support needed to help lone parents secure the employment opportunities that would lead to financial independence.

One Family reiterates its call to Government to enact its 10 Solutions campaign, with an immediate focus on childcare.  All children deserve the best start in life.

Read more about One Family’s 10 Solutions.

About One Family

One Family was founded in 1972 and is Ireland’s leading organisation for one-parent families offering 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 662 212, counselling, and provision of training courses for parents and for professionals. One Family also promotes the Family Day Festival, an annual celebration of the diversity of families in Ireland today, with 10,000 people attending in 2013 (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

Further Information/Scheduling

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

 

 

An International Women’s Day Focus – Mother’s Education Level

Press Release

An International Women’s Day Focus –

Mother’s Education Level and Impacts on Lone Parenthood and Well-Being of Children

(Dublin, Friday 7th February 2014) One Family – Ireland’s leading organisation for one-parent families in Ireland today – looks forward to acknowledgment of International Women’s Day on Saturday 8th March and calls for a new look at education for women in Ireland. Founded by a small group of strong, progressive women who rejected the accepted ‘norm’ to bring about great change including the abolition of the status of illegitimacy, One Family has worked to better the lives of women and children for over four decades.

A mother’s education level has a huge effect on the well-being of children. In Ireland, the majority of lone mothers are aged between 35 and 49 (CSO 2011). Tony Fahey, UCD in ‘Growing Up In Ireland’ (GUI 2011), found that early child-bearing (before the age of 25) is the main factor predicting lone parenthood, no matter what the educational level of the mother, but that less educated women are more likely to have a first birth before age 25. Currently this group represents 6% of the total number of lone parents in the state (CSO 2011).  ‘Growing Up in a One-Parent Family’, a study by researchers at the University of Limerick using the ‘Growing Up in Ireland’ data published by the Family Support Agency in December, indicated that children from one-parent families and cohabiting families fare the same as children from married families when faced with similarly adverse conditions growing up. It concluded that the traditionally perceived benefits of marriage in relation to child development are not a result of marriage itself but are due to the parent or parents’ background and educational levels.

The increase in child well-being over the past 40 years can be attributed to the better education of women, according to GUI 2011. Karen Kiernan, One Family CEO, comments: “The effect of women’s educational expansion on child well-being is enormous. Better educated women may be more likely to understand the development needs of their children and resourced to cope through stressful transitions. Improving women’s education tends to increase national wealth, which in turn improves population’s health.”

Worldwide, there were 8.2 million fewer deaths in 2011 among children younger than 5 than there were in 1970. Of those “averted deaths,” 4.2 million were the result of better-educated mothers and 590 million the result of higher-income households (Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington). The rest of the lives saved were attributable to better health interventions. Researchers used data from 915 sources, mostly surveys and censuses, gathered between 1953 and 2013. The experience of countries varied widely but the research found that women are now more educated than men in 87 countries, including nearly all the rich ones.

“These findings are not surprising, but the magnitude is impressive,” says Stuart Duffin, One Family Director of Policy & Programmes. “They clearly justify what One Family has been saying for a long time – that one of the investments we need to make is women’s education and this must be supported by wrap-around, affordable childcare.”

A lack of accessible and affordable childcare in Ireland remains one of the greatest barriers to women parenting alone being able to return to education, or employment, as highlighted in One Family’s ongoing 10 Solutions campaign. One Family provides free childcare in its on-site crèche for parents participating in its learning programmes. It offers education in three main areas: parenting skills for lone parents and those sharing parenting; welfare to work initiatives such as the 20 week New Futures programme; and accredited training for professionals working with lone parent families and families in transition – the flagship Positive Parenting and Family Communications programmes.

“We’re going from a world that was heavily dominated by male educational attainment to one where women are becoming more educated than men,” Stuart Duffin further observed. “The long-term social implications of that are pretty intriguing and are important for Ireland’s economic and social development.”

About One Family

One Family was founded in 1972 and is Ireland’s leading organisation for one-parent families offering 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 the Family Day Festival, an annual celebration of the diversity of families in Ireland today, with 10,000 people attending in 2013 (www.familyday.ie). For further information, visit www.onefamily.ie.

Available for Interview

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

 

Families and Societies Stakeholder Seminar

The future of our families. What policies can do for children in vulnerable situations.

On 28th January 2014, leading experts from research, policy, and NGOs met in Brussels to discuss the most recent evidence on children in vulnerable situations and the potential scope of policy interventions. Stuart Duffin, our Director of Policy and Programmes,  was a panelist.

A poor socioeconomic background and family disruptions, such as parent separation, may have an impact on the life-chances of children. But so far, empirical evidence is quite scarce. In two workshops, prominent experts discussed their most recent findings. For example, what role does divorce play for the cognitive abilities and school performance of children? Can institutionalised childcare and public custody compensate disadvantages due to difficult living conditions? Is there a difference between immigrant and native youths? And are there country-specific patterns which policy makers have to take into regard?

The workshops were organised by the Population Europe Secretariat (hosted by the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research) and FamiliesAndSocieties, in cooperation with Oxford Population Centre | European University Institute | International Federation for Family Development | European Economic and Social Committee.

Stuart Duffin states: ‘‘There is no evidence to suggest that, although increasingly more commonplace, separation is an easy transition for children and parents. Partnership separation is not a single event. It is a complex process that unfolds over time and requires a series of reorganisations and adjustments. How children cope with parental separation is affected by developmental stage, temperament, cognitive capacities, and personal resilience.”

He continues: “Our experience of working with those parenting alone and those sharing parenting demonstrates that many children are resilient and can learn to manage the challenges and stress parental separation creates. Therefore, separation-specific interventions that build and restore competence can reduce reliance on social and legal systems. Preventive interventions that educate and support parents are an important component of successful family transition when they are introduced early in the process. Focused intervention plans, with clearly articulated goals reflecting children’s and families’ unique qualities, are recommended as a means of fostering resilience.”

Population Europe is the network of 29 leading demographic research centres and 150 eminent researchers in Europe. As a collaborative network it provides comprehensive knowledge, information and insights into fundamental demographic trends and diverging population developments. This expertise is key to understanding the political, social and economic developments of Europe in the 21st century.The Population Europe Event has received funding from the European Union’s Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion under grant agreement n° VS/2012/0168 for the project Population Europe 2.0. FamiliesAndSocieties is the European think-tank in the field of family policy research. It brings together 25 universities and research institutes in 15 European countries and three transnational civil society organisations. It aims to investigate the diversity of family forms, relationships and life courses in Europe, to assess the compatibility of existing policies with these changes and to contribute to evidence-based policy-making.The FamiliesAndSocieties Workshop has received funding from the European Union´s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) under grant agreement n° 320116 for the research project Families And Societies.

 

Government has hindered not helped One-Parent Families in 2013

Press Release

Government has hindered not helped

One-Parent Families in 2013

(Dublin, Tuesday 10 December 2013) One Family, Ireland’s leading organisation for one-parent families, campaigned for 10 Solutions. No Cuts. in the lead up to Budget 2014. These ten solutions are practical and economic measures that would greatly improve the quality of the lives of the adults and children of one-parent families in Ireland today. The campaign, a response to the harsh cuts of Budget 2012 that impacted disastrously on so many lone parents, was strongly supported by members of the public with hundreds of emails sent to TDs around the country.

So has Budget 2014 helped Ireland’s poorest families and children, and enabled lone parents to get back to work? One Family analysed the success or failure of Government to achieve each of its proposed 10 Solutions for Smarter Futures and awarded a score to each. The ‘Report Card’ below shows some small improvements but a very disappointing overall assessment with greater effort needed in most areas.

Karen Kiernan, CEO of One Family, states: “Following the dire cuts unleashed on one-parent families in Budget 2012, One Family has been providing solutions to government on how to help  meet  its own policy objectives of getting lone parents into sustainable employment.  Government has followed some of what we have advised but it has a long way to go. There is deep and continuing dissatisfaction with the existing social assistance system from all quarters: community groups, business, politicians, the people who run the system and customers.”

Stuart Duffin, One Family’s Director of Policy, comments: “Budget 2014 needed to deliver opportunities and chances for all our families and in particular those parenting alone. As Enda Kenny says, ‘Work must pay’; but more importantly investment is needed to help families out of persistent poverty. Investment in resources and services will enable that move. If  ‘work is to pay’ we need to look at how an efficient tax system can enable change; for example, Child and After School tax credits, moving FIS to being paid through the pay packet and on a sliding scale.”

Mr Duffin continues: “Budget 2014, despite being an opportunity to reward achievement, has in many ways – such as the ongoing slashing of the earning disregards and the abolition of the in-work One-Parent Family Tax Credit for both caring parents – nurtured perverse economic incentives to engage in the labour market.  The integration of social and economic instruments should be a whole of government effort, to prevent unintended consequences.”

One Family’s assessment:

Notes for Editors:

  • 1 in 4 families with children in Ireland is a one-parent family
  • Over half a million people live in one-parent families in Ireland
  • 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)
  • 87,586 of those are currently receiving the One-Parent Family Payment
  • Those living in lone parent households continue to experience the highest rates of deprivation with almost 56% of individuals from these households experiencing one or more forms of deprivation (EU-SILC 2011) 

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

 

Further Information/Scheduling

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

 

Shared Parenting Penalised by Government as Flexibilities Problematic on One Parent Family Tax Credit

Press Release

One Family, Ireland’s leading organisation for one-parent families, reacted to the announcement of the abolition of One Parent Family tax credit with concern following the Budget 2014 announcement. Today this concern has been cemented with evidence of the government’s inability to practically and holistically respond to what One Family and hundreds of parents have been communicating since the shock announcement.

One Family wrote to every TD and publicised information based on over 40 years of experience including direct feedback based on what hundreds of parents told us following the announcement about the damaging consequences for separated Fathers and Mothers who share parenting of their children.

Karen Kiernan, CEO of One Family, comments:  “One Family warned the government that merely making the Single Parent Child Carer credit available to one or other separated parent will cause huge problems and we predict that there will be heavier court use, family conflict and use of the Legal Aid Board as a result. What will happen when the resident parent moves into employment and also requires this tax credit? How will it be decided who gets it? Can it be shared? Either way it continues to be an additional tax on one-parent families who were hit brutally in Budget 2012 and who are continuing to feel these effects year on year.”

Stuart Duffin, Director of Policy and Programmes at One Family states: “The removal of an in-work tax credit from parents who are negotiating the difficult job of sharing parenting is highly disappointing. The hundreds of parents who have contacted us will be very disappointed and all to save a small amount of money to the exchequer.”

The One Parent Family tax credit of €1,650 was previously available to both working parents sharing parenting after separation. It will be replaced by a Single Person’s Child Carer tax credit of €1,650 which will now be available first to the parent in receipt of Child Benefit and if not being used by them will be available to the other parent, from January 2014.  Some parents may be at a loss of over €125 per month as a result of the removal of the one-parent family tax credit and the removal of the one-parent family tax rate.

In acknowledgement that reform is needed, One Family had proposed that a Child Support & Parenting Agreement – a written agreement between separated parents on the amount of child maintenance to be paid towards the financial costs of raising their children including an agreed plan in relation to parenting issues as appropriate with be in place between the parents – be submitted when applying for the tax credit. This would help to ensure that separated parents engaged in appropriate shared parenting arrangements would be able to avail of the Tax Credit and/or allocate the credit between them.

One Family regrets that government has not listened to separated parents sharing parenting responsibly and has not accounted for the long-term outcomes of this mistaken reform which will result in increased risk of poverty for many of the fathers, mothers and children already at the highest risk of deprivation in the state today.

Concerned parents can contact the lo-call askonefamily helpline on 1890 662 9212 and email support@onefamily.ie.

 

Attack on Parents Sharing Parenting After Separation is Unjust, Unfair and Underhand

Press Release

Attack on Parents Sharing Parenting After Separation

 is Unjust, Unfair and Underhand

(Dublin, Thursday 17 October 2013) One Family, Ireland’s leading organisation for one-parent families, is deeply concerned by the removal of the One Parent Family tax credit and tax free allowance announced on Tuesday as part of Budget 2014 which will have disastrous and far-reaching consequences for separated Fathers and Mothers who share parenting of their children.

Stuart Duffin, Director of Policy and Programmes at One Family states: “Claimants of the One Parent Family tax credit are working Mums and Dads who are committed, responsible parents participating in a successful arrangement with their child’s other parent for the well-being of their child. This is an in-work support and the kind of mechanism that needs to be in place to deliver Pathways to Work, a cornerstone initiative of the Government’s recovery programme. Ultimately it is children who will be impacted with less money to go round in already hard hit families.”

The One Parent Family tax credit of €1,650 was previously available to both working parents sharing parenting after separation. From 2014, it is being replaced by a Single Person’s Child Carer tax credit of €1,650 which will only be available to the parent in receipt of Child Benefit. As the principle carer is usually the child’s Mother, and she may not be working, these changes mean that in many cases neither parent will now meet the specified criteria.  Some parents may be at a loss of over €125 per month as a result of the removal of the one-parent family tax credit and the removal of the one-parent family tax rate.

Duffin continued: “One Family has a received a barrage of calls to the askonefamily helpline, plus emails and Facebook comments from worried parents who are already pushed to their limits. There is a lack of joined up thinking and policy between the Departments of Finance, Social Protection and Children & Youth Affairs as this government is penalising the good practice of shared parenting. One Family is actively calling for clarity and action to ensure that working parents don’t become welfare recipients.”

One Family warns Government that it must address implementation problems, otherwise this is going to create long-term challenges for parents.

Karen Kiernan, CEO of One Family, comments:  “We are calling on Government to reverse this decision and to reinstate the relevant tax credits to ensure that one-parent families who are still coping with the cuts of Budget 2012 are not pushed further into poverty. We are concerned that along with other government measures this will damage the objective of making work pay and more people will end up becoming customers of the Department of Social Protection as many fathers have told us they simply won’t be able to pay as much maintenance as they have been.”

Concerned parents can contact the lo-call askonefamily helpline on 1890 662 9212 and email support@onefamily.ie.

Notes for Editors:

  • 1 in 4 families with children in Ireland is a one-parent family
  • Over half a million people live in one-parent families in Ireland
  • 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)
  • 87,586 of those are currently receiving the One-Parent Family Payment
  • Those living in lone parent households continue to experience the highest rates of deprivation with almost 56% of individuals from these households experiencing one or more forms of deprivation (EU-SILC 2011)
  • Operational Challenges for Government to be addressed:
  1. If the principal carer is not working, can the allowance be claimed by the other parent?
  2. If the principal carer is not working and the allowance is claimed by the other parent, what happens when the principal carer returns to work?
  3. What about parents who share care 50/50?
  4. How will this be managed for parents who are already in dispute with each other following separation?
  5. Can clear provisions be made for flexibilities such as splitting the credit between working parents; and making it available to the working parent, usually the Father, who is often classed as ‘secondary carer’.

Available for Interview

Stuart Duffin, Director of Policy & Programmes | t: 01 662 9212 or 087 062 2023

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

For Case Studies, Further Information/Scheduling

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

 

Budget 2014 is anti-family and anti-parent

Press Release

More attacks on working mothers and shared parenting

Budget 2014 is anti-family and anti-parent

(Dublin, Tuesday 15 October 2013) One Family, Ireland’s leading organisation for one-parent families today responds to Budget 2014 noting the removal of the One Parent Family Tax Credit, the cutting of Maternity Benefit at the higher rate and no plans to help lone parents get into work.

Karen Kiernan, CEO of One Family, states: ‘We are extremely disappointed that working parents who share caring and financial responsibility for their children after separation are now to be penalised by the removal of the One Parent Family Tax Credit for one parent. We should be supporting both parents to cooperate and share responsibility for their children following relationship breakdown instead of penalising them. In addition, the adjusted Maternity Benefit payments, following on last year’s taxation of the Benefit, will negatively impact on thousands of working mothers.’

The One Parent Family Tax Credit has been available to both people sharing parenting of their children where they are not cohabiting and their child lives with them for part of the year. It was worth €1,650 per year in addition to the normal tax credit.

Stuart Duffin, Director of Policy and Programmes at One Family states: ‘We have been concerned for some time by incidences of social welfare inspectors investigating families because the parents after separating are sharing parenting of their children. One Family works to ensure that parents do their best for their children as they move through separation and into the often challenging landscape of shared parenting. This cut is retrograde. It ignores the reality of the collaborative approach many people can take to sharing responsibility and penalises families who have separated.’

Kiernan concludes: ‘One Family finds the ongoing negative approach to parents and families by this government to be alarming. People need support to balance their working and parenting responsibilities. It costs people more money to live apart and share parenting of their children than if they were living together and the removal of this Tax Credit will cause conflict in separated one-parent families.’

Notes for Editors:

  • 1 in 4 families with children in Ireland is a one-parent family
  • Over half a million people live in one-parent families in Ireland
  • 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)
  • 87,586 of those are currently receiving the One-Parent Family Payment
  • Those living in lone parent households continue to experience the highest rates of deprivation with almost 56% of individuals from these households experiencing one or more forms of deprivation (EU-SILC 2011)

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

Further Information/Scheduling

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