A leading national charity working with one-parent families has warned it is inevitable child poverty will rise if lone parent families are not supported in next year’s budget. The statement comes as One Family, Ireland’s national organisation for people parenting alone, sharing parenting, and separating launched its Pre-Budget Submission.
Karen Kiernan, CEO of One Family said, “We know most children experiencing poverty live in lone parent households. We see this in our work with families and countless research studies in recent years have proven it. So, we know the scale of the problem, but the good news is we also know the solutions which, if put in place, could transform the lives of people in one-parent families and stem the tide of children falling into poverty.
We need to support families by making work pay with quality job opportunities and in-work supports. There should be intensive, targeted support for parents in education; such as extending Jobseekers Transitional Payment and offering bridging programmes that support lone parents to move from education into the workplace. We also need to invest in early years and school aged childcare, provide an adequate social welfare safety net for families in need, and prioritise housing supports for one-parent families.”
Niamh Kelly, One Family Policy Manager said, “The cause of child poverty does not lie with individual families, they are the result of generations of policies that have failed to adequately support these families. It requires a whole-of-government response that universally supports all children, while targeting those most at risk with tailored preventative actions. We are calling on Government to look at all the evidence and establish a high-level, inter-departmental group tasked with coordinating policy responses aimed at reducing the poverty, deprivation and inequality experienced by one-parent families. If Government do this, not alone will they improve the lives of thousands of parents and children it would make a substantial step towards ending child poverty.”
Karen Kiernan added, “One-parent families have been hit particularly hard during the Covid-19 pandemic. Financial pressures caused by income loss and the increased cost of being at home with children to support, added to the additional responsibilities including childcare, home-schooling, all without access to usual support networks of family and friends, really took its toll. Recent CSO research showed that four in ten parents living alone with children reported feeling isolated most or all of the time and one in four said they had no one they could count on if they have a serious problem. This Budget – the first as we move beyond initial emergency pandemic measures- must acknowledge the disproportionate impact restrictions have had on one-parent families.”