Dáil Éireann - Volume 625 - 10 October, 2006

Written Answers. - Family Support Services.

Mr. McGinley asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs his views on the 20% increase in the number of lone parents accessing the services of a lone parent organisation in 2005; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31836/06]

  Mr. Brennan: I am aware of the excellent work which has been done for many years by the organisation One Family, formerly known as Cherish, in providing voice, support and action for one-parent families through membership, professional services and campaigning. The organisation works with all types and all members of one-parent families, respecting the realities of family life in Ireland. I received a copy of One Family’s Annual Report recently and noted the increase of 20% in the number of one parent families and professionals accessing their services.

Overall, I believe that the increased demand for One Family’s services reflects the greater level of focus there is on lone parent families. The [126] Government, mindful of this, asked the Senior Officials Group on Social Inclusion to examine the obstacles to employment for lone parents and last March I launched the Government discussion paper “Proposals for Supporting Lone Parents” which sought to address the increased risk of social exclusion and poverty faced by lone parents and parents on low income.

The report put forward proposals for an expanded availability and range of education and training opportunities for lone parents; the extension of the National Employment Action Plan to focus on lone parents; focused provision of childcare; an improved information service for lone parents and the introduction of a new social assistance payment for low income families with young children. This paper has been the subject of considerable consultation. I have met with One Family, who have participated fully in these consultations, and listened carefully to what they have had to say as I believe that the views of national organisations such as themselves must be used to inform the development of the process.

As soon as I am convinced that we have reached conclusions that are equitable, with a fully workable implementation strategy, it is my intention to bring forward proposals for legislation in this area.