State of the Nation’s Children Report published today

The State of the Nation’s Children Report: Ireland 2012 has been published this afternoon; the fourth report in a biannual series. Frances Fitzgerald TD, Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, launched the report which shows that the number of children in Ireland has increased by 13.4% since 2002. The Minister said it pointed to the need for a greater focus on vulnerable children, further investment in early-childhood services and improving the affordability and accessibility of childcare.

Other findings include:

  • Ireland now has the highest proportion of children in the EU – in 2011, there were 1,148,687 children in Ireland, accounting for 25% of the population and the number of children in Ireland increased by 13.4% between 2002 and 2011.
  • Significant decrease in number of babies born to teenage girls – a decrease of 36% between 2007 and 2011.
  • The number of children in lone-parent households is up 10.2%.

“This growth of the birth rate further underlines how urgently the economic value of childcare as a component of economic growth and social investment must be recognised,” responds Stuart Duffin, One Family’s Director of Policy & Programmes. “Social investment in childcare is now fundamental to growth. By placing childcare in the context of education it will have greater potential to reduce child poverty and benefit children and families.”

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has identified publicly supported childcare and early childhood education as critical to a nation’s wealth and citizen well-being. Countries with the healthiest families and sustained economic development are also most likely to view a licensed childcare system as an essential part of the public infrastructure supporting the economy, according to County of Wellington Childcare Services, New Zealand (November 2012).

The World Bank supports such action as an investment in human capital that prioritises the development of less costly preventative interventions for young children who are vulnerable to developmental delay, rather than more costly remedial action for older children and adults ( and states that “well conceived early childhood development programmes are a cost effective means of strengthening society.”

As we see births rise in Ireland, we must tailor supports for those families which may be disadvantaged or have life-chances restricted because services such as affordable and accessible child care are not in place for all. This is a specific fulcrum for those currently parenting alone or who may parent alone in the future, as Government strategy channels lone parents to take up work as the key means of getting them out from poverty.

Survey on Income and Living Conditions 2011 finds lone parent households are most deprived

The Central Statistics Office (CSO) has released the Survey on Income and Living Conditions (SILC) in Ireland for 2011, a household survey covering a broad range of issues in relation to income and living conditions.

These new figures show that lone parent households are the most deprived, with 56% classified as deprived. According to the survey, 232,000 children are at risk of poverty, which represents 18.8% of all children in Ireland, a slight increase from 18.4% in the previous year. One in seven of those at risk of poverty has a job, according to the statistics, and over half (50.7%) of the population would be at risk without social welfare payments.

Responding to the findings, Stuart Duffin, One Family’s Director of Policy & Programmes, said: “The urgent problems today are the growing number of families making the difficult choice between heating and eating, or getting sucked into the spiral of rent arrears, pay day loans and debt. A central focus on family incomes has to remain, alongside a step change in government strategy on living wages, affordable housing and affordable childcare so that more families can balance their budgets and give their children decent life chances.”

Stuart Duffin further commented: “One Family hopes that Ministers will now take a robust evidence informed approach to policy and start providing income security and making work pay for those families and children in most need.”

Read the CSO press release here. Further analysis by The Irish Times can be found here: Quarter of population classified as deprived | Unravelling the facts, and myths, of Irish inequality | Record numbers in poverty, CSO



One Family supports Welfare reform

Media Release, Weds 29 August 2012

In response to today’s news that the EU has warned Government that it needs to reform our welfare system, One Family, Ireland’s leading organisation for one-parent families, welcomes the broad recommendations and in particular the broadening of the tax base.

Stuart Duffin, One Family Welfare to Work Manager explains, ‘Despite what the economists might say, the jobs recovery has not yet begun. Low-income people, particularly those parenting alone, are facing two significant challenges. The first is simply keeping their heads above water, as they struggle to cover their rent or mortgage, to meet the continually rising costs of energy, to cover the costs of transportation, of putting food on the table and of educating their children, all during a period of high unemployment and few sustainable labour market opportunities. The second challenge is how to develop the skills necessary to participate in any economic recovery and to be capable of benefiting from future economic growth.’

Any successful poverty reduction strategy for Ireland must include a new approach to social assistance programmes that recognises these challenges.  The Irish Government needs an overall vision for social assistance. Its adoption of poverty reduction as a goal in social policy must be echoed by creating a 21st century income security system, with underlying principles recognizing diversity through creating equity, treating people with dignity and respect, enhancing social and economic inclusion and eradicating poverty traps.

Duffin continues, ‘One Family’s Ten Solutions are all about delivering some of the supports needed to enable those parenting alone to have better futures out of poverty, off social assistance and in quality, sustainable jobs.  A key element of reform will be the Government’s commitment to flexibilities within the system:  for example, lone parents who transition to Jobseeker’s Allowance should not be required to be available for fulltime work but rather for 15 hours per week during school hours. This should mitigate many of the child protection concerns that have arisen around 7 year olds being left on their own. A series of flexibilities or exemptions are required in the UK and many other countries to allow for a lack of childcare, lack of transport, a child with a disability, separation, bereavement, home-schooling and so on.’


For more information contact Hilary Fennell, Communications Manager, One Family, 01 6629212 / 087 2359515 or  Stuart Duffin, Welfare to Work Manager, 087 0622023


One Family,Ten Solutions – cost neutral solutions to help lone parents back into work & education

Stuart Duffin, One Family, Welfare to Work Manager, was at the 66th Labour Party Conference in Galway over the weekend promoting One Family’s course of   action in response to Budget 2012.  All 750 copies of the paper, One Family – Ten Solutions – Smarter Futures were taken and read. One Family is advocating cost neutral administrative and management approaches which would facilitate those parenting alone back into work and education. There is overwhelming support for our stance on flexibilites; that is, that lone parents who transition to Jobseeker’s Allowance should not be required to be available for fulltime work but rather for 15 hours per week during school hours. This should mitigate many of the child protection concerns and parental caring responsibilities that have arisen around 7 year olds being left on their own. A series of flexibilities or exemptions are required as per the UK and many other countries to allow for a lack of childcare, lack of transport, a child with a disability, separation, bereavement, etc, This is a first step in a journey to ensure that lone parents and in particular children in lone parent families do not suffer disproportionally in the current economic climate.

See the full document here Ten Solutions

For more information on flexibilities for lone parents who are in receipt of Jobseeker’s Allowance.

Look here

Here is some relevant Census 2011 data on Lone Parents in Ireland:

1 in 8 people in Ireland live in a one-parent family,  567,311 persons out of a general population of 4,588,252.

1 in 4 (25.8%) families with children in Ireland is a one-parent family, 215,315 lone parent families out of 834,266 families with children.

Over half a million people live in one-parent families in Ireland, 567,311 persons

13.5 per cent of one-parent families are headed by a father, 29,031 lone fathers as opposed to 186,284 lone mothers.

1 in 5 (21.7%) children live in a one-parent family,351,996 children in one-parent families, out of a national total of 1,625,975 children

Press Release | Urgent Reversals Required Before Drastic Cuts Foisted on Ireland’s Poorest Families

Media Release, 8 December 2011


Urgent reversals required before drastic cuts foisted on Ireland’s poorest families

One Family, the leading national organisation for one-parent families, is extremely concerned at the cuts targeted at one-parent families in Budget 2012. Our thousands of members, clients and supporters are also very concerned and our national helpline has been inundated with calls from worried and angry parents.

We are instigating a national campaign to reverse these targeted cuts at Ireland’s poorest families and we call on supporters from all over Ireland and from every political background to support us. Legislation to pass Budget 2012 is going through the Dail on Friday (tomorrow) so there is a great urgency in this campaign. We have already contacted all Ministers and TDs.

The immediate impact of Budget 2012 on one-parent families is:

  • An additional €6 per week to be paid by parents towards rent supplement
  • A loss of €120 per year towards fuel costs
  • A loss of €50 per primary school age child and €55 for secondary school age child in Back to School Clothing & Footwear Allowance cuts
  • An increase in VAT, fuel costs, school transport costs as well as school capitation grants
  • The loss of €29.80 per child per week because of the cut in the two qualified child increases where the parent is on a Community Employment Scheme and One Parent Family Payment
  • New CE scheme applicants will no longer able to retain the One Parent Family Payment and their salary from their participation in the CE scheme
  • For the minority of one-parent families with three or more children, a loss of €228 per year for a family with 3 children and €432 for those with 4 children.

The activation measures announced in Budget 2012 have been designed to cut costs to the exchequer rather than support lone parents into sustainable employment and they will not work. Some cuts will actually disconnect lone parents from the labour market in direct contradiction of government policy. They will increase rather than alleviate high levels of child and family poverty for the following reasons:

  • We are in a recession and there are no jobs
  • There are no specialist supports to help lone parents engage with education, training and the labour market
  • The level of money in the Community Childcare Subvention scheme has been cut and there will be a €25 weekly contribution to costs from FÁS and VEC trainees for Childcare Education and Training Support
  • There is poor provision of after school care in Ireland
  • There is poor childcare provision in parts of the country
  • There is very little part-time or modular education
  • Budget 2012 has cut family supports through the Family Resource Centre programme and the Family Mediation Service at a time when more families are separating
  • Slashing the income disregard will result in increased poverty levels and a disconnection from the labour market
  • Education levels of many lone parents are low and they will require long term interventions to help them progress to degree level
  • Disincentivising Community Employment as a means of gaining training, accreditation, work experience and a salary will increase a disconnection from the labour market.

We demand the following changes to Budget 2012:

  • Devise an additional payment for the poorest children in Ireland to compensate for all the cuts to family income
  • Reverse the decision to disallow the payment of partial One Parent Family Payment to those on Community Employment
  • Maintain the income disregard at current levels for the foreseeable future at €146.50 per week
  • Develop appropriate supports and services in partnership with the voluntary sector to progress lone parents into sustainable employment and pause the lowering of the age limit for OFP eligibility until this is achieved
  • Prioritise the case management of lone parents in the new National Employment and Entitlements Service and ensure all supports for those on the live register are available to OFP recipients.

Here is the context in which one-parent families in Ireland live:

  • 65% of the country’s poorest children live in one-parent families
  • You are four times more likely to live in consistent poverty in a one-parent family than other families (SILC, 2010)
  • Those parenting alone were the most negatively affected by the previous budget, losing almost 5% of their annual income. This compared with just a 1.3% fall for high income married couples (TASC, 2011)
  • One-parent families were poor in the Celtic Tiger and remain so now
  • Low education levels (ESRI, Persistent at Risk of Poverty in Ireland 2011 and Growing-Up in Ireland 2011).

For more information contact:

Hilary Fennell, Communications Manager 01 6629212/087 2359515

Stuart Duffin, Welfare to Work Manager 01 6629212/087 0622023

Karen Kiernan, Director 01 6629212/086 8509191