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4th September 2019 | Caring, Childcare, Press Releases

One parent families facing uphill childcare battle – Greens

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As the government announces its childcare plan this week, the unique situation of one-parent families is being ignored and many are fearful.

Cllr. Pauline O’Reilly, Green Party Spokesperson for Children and Youth Affairs said: “Since Minister Katherine Zappone took office she has been aware of the anomalies in the system for one-parent families, but she has failed to act.

“One-parent payments stop once a child turns 7 and the announced childcare subsidies do not make up the shortfall for a one-income family. They are in fact adding to the anxiety. They are stuck between a rock and a hard place.

“This age limit was lowered substantially under the previous government, dropping from age 14 to age 7, and nothing has been done to change this. Excellent recommendations were drawn up to rectify the problem in 2017, taking into account the lived experiences of one-parent families, but these have not been implemented to date.

“To add insult to injury, under the new childcare scheme parents are being asked to apply under the National Childcare Scheme, and four previous schemes will be scrapped next year with no clear indication as to whether the new scheme will retain the same benefits. While the average family will benefit, many of the poorest families could be hit unless changes are made urgently, and given the inequalities for one-parent families, they are the most likely to be in this bracket.

“Only a truly universal system of childcare run by the State, with support for unpaid carers, is the answer. Until then targeted support should be kept and enhanced.

“There is a true lack of respect for individual families’ circumstances. One-parent families are 5 times more likely to live in consistent poverty and they are at greatest risk of homelessness. Their position is a structural problem within our state that requires urgent action.

“The entire social system is set up to make living without a partner incredibly difficult, which includes housing, childcare and enforcement of maintenance payments. Our system of securing maintenance payments means that parents often have to return to court multiple times over years to ensure that maintenance is paid. This is antiquated and inhumane.”