Single-parent Waterford families at risk of poverty
A report issued this week by the Society of St. Vincent de Paul has revealed that poverty among working lone parents has more than doubled over a five-year period up to 2017.
The report states that as a group most at risk of poverty today, lone parents represent the largest group seeking assistance from the St. Vincent de Paul.
With almost 6,000 lone parent families recorded in Waterford City and County at the last census, Green Party representative Marc Ó Cathasaigh believes more needs to be done to "lift children in this cohort out of persistent poverty and to allow lone parents to access the labour market."
“Over one in four of all households in Waterford are lone parent families. Children in these families are significantly more likely to have to go without their basic needs being met, as their parents may not be able to afford new clothes, good quality food, or even, at this time of year, to adequately heat the house. This can have long-term consequences for the health, education and well-being of the child," Marc said.
“Changes made to the One-Parent Family Payment during the recession have actually had the effect of locking lone parents out of good quality employment. 60% of lone parents can’t access proper child care due to costs, and many take on low-paid work in order to fit work around family commitments. These parents are living day-to-day, with more than 8 in 10 not able to meet unexpected expenses, be that a failed NCT or a school trip."
Mr Ó Cathasaigh, who will be standing for local elections in Tramore and Waterford City West as the Green Party candidate, believes that a twin approach is needed to assist these families.
“To support lone parents into good quality employment, we need to unwind the changes made to the One Parent Family Payment and stop penalising parents who want to work while caring for their families. But more importantly, a new childcare model is needed if lone parents are to be truly supported," he explained.
“With lone parents five times more likely to be at risk of deprivation than two-parent families in Ireland, State-funded childcare is the only way to go."
“A model such as that in Finland, which brings childcare under the remit of the State rather than private operators and provides parents with financial support to stay at home or to use childminders, would be far more effective."
“We are calling on the government to truly examine the folly of putting more and more money into a lukewarm affordable childcare scheme rather than building a proper, state-run scheme."