8th July, 2016

One Family – Ireland’s First National Shared Parenting Survey launched 4th July 2016.

One Family will finally capture the reality for thousands of parents and children in Ireland who are not recognised.

(Dublin, Monday 4th July 2016) Today One Family – Ireland’s organisation for people parenting alone, sharing parenting, and separating – launches the first National Survey on Shared Parenting in Ireland. Founded as Cherish in 1972, One Family has almost 45 years experience of working with and representing one-parent families. Our experience shows that many lone parents share parenting to some extent with their child’s other parent, even though they live separately and are not in a relationship with each other. However, this reality for many thousands of children and parents in Ireland is not recognised or understood meaning that services, polices and laws which could support them are severely lacking.

This initiative aims to capture data on not only the amount of lone parents who share parenting, but the commitments agreed – be they financial, on joint decision making, or on residential or contact time; and how Ireland’s services and polices work or do not work for their family form. The data gathered will finally give a voice to these parents and their children, which can inform appropriate policies and services in the future.

Karen Kiernan, One Family CEO, comments: “Why is this survey needed? Based on the experiences of people who access our services, we believe over 50% and up to 80% of lone parents in Ireland may share parenting, yet the supports they need simply do not exist. Relationship separation is often a time of great hurt and anger, meaning that establishing a shared parenting agreement which keeps children at the centre of parenting can be immensely challenging. This lack of recognition, including supports around mediation, establishing a shared parenting plan, and Family Law Courts, for example, can pile on additional stress.”

Also today One Family has launched its Annual Review 2015, and a new Strategy for 2016-2018. Calls to its helpline askonefamily increased by another 20% in 2015. The increase was driven largely by governmental reform of the One-Parent Family Payment, with especially negative impacts on parents working part-time who experienced a large income reduction on already tight budgets. Calls related to issues around shared parenting also increased.

Karen continues: “Strategy 2016-2018 outlines One Family’s ongoing commitment to cherish all children and all families. We continue to work towards a society that does not discriminate based on family type, and to call for the broadening of the Constitutional definition of the family to ensure respect and recognition of all the different family types children live in. Attitudinal change in society and at policy level is urgently required if we are to afford equality to all families, and to reduce child poverty rates by 2020 in line with Government commitments. Evidence shows that it is not family form that most impacts on a child’s well-being and future outcomes, but challenges like poverty, and access to education. Capturing information and recognising the realities for many thousands of shared parenting families in Ireland, which our National Survey is designed to achieve, is essential so that proper supports can be put in place to ensure these better outcomes.”

This survey is now closed. One Family will launch the results in Autumn 2016.

Dani, aged 10, talks about One Family’s Annual Review and the current situation for one-parent families in Ireland in a short video, which includes Karen Kiernan discussing Strategy 2016-2018 and what is needed to create more positive futures for one-parent families.

Notes for Editors

  • 1 in 8 people in Ireland live in a one-parent family (Census 2011)
  • 1 in 4 families with children in Ireland is a one-parent family (Census 2011)
  • Over half a million people live in one-parent families in Ireland (Census 2011)
  • 13.5% of one-parent families are headed by a father (Census 2011)
  • Almost 1 in 5 children (18.3%) live in a one-parent family (Census 2011)
  • There are over 215,000 one-parent families in Ireland today – 25.8% of all families with children (Census 2011)
  • Family Relationships and Family Well-Being: A Study of the Families of Nine Year-Olds in Ireland by Tony Fahey, Patricia Keilthy and Ela Polek (2012): Shared Parenting in Lone Parent and Step Families (pg. 24) contains information on shared parenting in Ireland.

About One Family

One Family was founded in 1972 as Cherish and is Ireland’s leading organisation for one-parent families and people sharing parenting, or separating, offering support, information and services to all members of all one-parent families, to those sharing parenting, to those experiencing an unplanned pregnancy and to professionals working with one-parent families. Children are at the centre of One Family’s work and the organisation helps all the adults in their lives, including mums, dads, grandparents, step-parents, new partners and other siblings, offering a holistic model of specialist family support services. These services include the lo-call askonefamily national helpline on 1890 66 22 12, counselling, and provision of training courses for parents and for professionals. One Family also promotes Family Day and presents the Family Day Festival every May, an annual celebration of the diversity of families in Ireland today (www.familyday.ie). For further information, visit www.onefamily.ie.

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