Executive Summary & Recommendations
In light of the fact that there is little reliable and up to date information on one-parent families in Galway City and County, the need to establish baseline data on the reality of life for those parenting alone was identifi ed as important by a group of local service providers. This group became known as ROPE1. It commissioned a research project designed to gather basic information about the past and current level of engagement of those parenting alone in the labour market and their experiences of this
process. Particularly, the research was interested in the barriers to engagement with education, training or taking up employment and the barriers for those who do to remain there. Likewise the research sought to identify those facilitative factors that enabled/ would enable those who parent alone to engage with the labour market and education in a way that would improve life for them and their children.
The study consisted of a theoretical part and an empirical part. The theoretical part of the One Parent Family Study included an extensive literature review compiled by Dr. Mary Murphy, NUI, Maynooth. The empirical part of the study targeted policy makers, service providers and service users. Data collection was based on a multi-method strategy consisting of a) a questionnaire survey for One Parent Family Payment recipients in Galway City and County, b) semi-structured interviews with those parenting alone in selected locations and c) a set of qualitative interviews with policy actors involved in the design and delivery of services for one parent families.
This research takes place in the context of major policy changes in relation to one parent families, particularly in terms of existing barriers to entering the labour market and / or education and training. The most concrete expression in Ireland of the changes ahead has come in the Government Discussion Paper: Proposals for Supporting Lone Parents. These proposals suggest that policy changes are likely to involve major reform in welfare support for those parenting alone (DSFA, 2006). Critically, these proposals will incorporate conditionality in payment, with those parenting alone in receipt of the payment expected to begin connecting to the labour market as their children approach the upper age limit for payment of the Parental Allowance.