Sinn Féin TD for Carlow-Kilkenny TD Kathleen Funchion welcomed the publication of the report by the Child Maintenance Review group which was established in 2020.
The report concluded that child maintenance needs immediate and sweeping reform, an urgency that Sinn Féin’s local TD says it has repeatedly called on the government on this issue.
These reforms will make a significant difference for single parent families in Carlow-Kilkenny and across the state.
Speaking about the announcement, Teachta Funchion said, “I welcome the release of this report. Sinn Féin has raised persistent concerns about child maintenance and the need to reform it for years, as have the organizations representing single-parent families.
“The Child Maintenance Review Group were crystal clear in the first two areas of concern – where child maintenance payments are made, they must be completely disregarded of any means test for social benefits and that the obligation to seek maintenance as a condition for receiving both Single Parent Family Allowance and Jobseekers’ Transition be abolished.
“These are two requests that my colleagues in the party have made for [Social Protection] Minister [Heather] She and Humphreys must act on both of these recommendations immediately.
“These claims can be dealt with under the Social Protection Amendment Bill which will be introduced next week, which we are calling for. If the Minister is slow to act on these recommendations, my colleagues and I will act on the matter to move these important changes forward.
“The review group also questions the merits of the Responsible Parents Unit within the Department of Social Care and has concluded that the Responsible Parents provisions should be removed. Again, using the figures for the amount of money the Unit has recovered, we have criticized this many times and this is another welcome recommendation from the group.
However, MP Funchion said it was ‘disappointing’ that an agreement could not be reached in the review group to call for the creation of a state cchild mmaintenance agency.
The Carlow-Kilkenny TD added: “It should be noted that the majority of the group wanted this recommendation to be made, which is significant given their detailed examination of the matter and consideration of best practice internationally. .
“The Group has expressed its interest in the model in place in the North where a Child Maintenance The service exists. This is the model that Sinn Féin has advocated for many years and the Group has acknowledged our policy in its report.
“The idea of leaving child maintenance in the justice system makes no sense. It ignores the reality that single parents aren’t comfortable with this framework, and more importantly, it didn’t work. We have again asked Minister Humphreys to consider our proposal for the creation of a Child Maintenance Service.
“This report puts a lot of emphasis on the levels of poverty and deprivation experienced by single-parent families. It’s no news that these families are experiencing some of the highest levels of deprivation in the state, and now we need action once and for all.
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