Chapter 1 - Background and Introduction
As part of the Government's commitment "to put the family at the centre of all its policies", the Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs, in Spring 1999, launched a new Families Research Programme "to provide grant aid to support research projects which have the ability to inform the future development of aspects of policy which relate to families and family services". In so doing he acknowledged that "there is little research into Irish families and family members and the challenges families face in maintaining their relationships and rearing their children... The findings from these research projects will contribute to the debate on the issues facing families today and help to develop and shape future policy" (Ahern 1999, p.1).
This Report presents the detailed findings of one of the studies supported under the first phase of the Families Research Programme introduced by the Department of Social Community and Family Affairs (DSCFA). The study was undertaken for the Department by members of the Research Team at the Institute of Public Administration from autumn 1999 to spring 2000. In presenting this Report, the support and encouragement of the Family Affairs Unit in the DSCFA throughout the course of the study is acknowledged gratefully. Gratitude is also expressed to those in the cross-section of commercial and non-commercial organisations, the trade unions and other representative bodies that contributed their views to this study. However, responsibility for the content of this report rests with the research team.