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Ireland needs a child maintenance service – Denise Mitchell TD

23 October, 2019 - by Denise Mitchell TD

Sinn Féin TD and spokesperson for Dublin Denise Mitchell has called on the Government to establish a Child Maintenance Service, saying that “the current child maintenance system is not working for lone parents or for children”.

Speaking during a debate that Sinn Féin had brought forward last night, the Dublin Bay North TD said:

“Lone parents make up a substantial demographic in society. There are almost 220,000 lone parent families in the State. Child maintenance contributions are a vital financial support that is necessary to provide children with the best developmental opportunities. The current child maintenance system is not working for lone parents or for children in need of critical financial support. It is responsible for lone parent families being five times more at risk of experiencing poverty than a two-parent household.

“The absence of a State body or agency to provide assistance to these families and ensure that child maintenance is being paid is hurting vulnerable children and lone parents. Lone parents have effectively been abandoned by the State. Forcing them into court to have maintenance paid is increasing stress and causes conflict between custodial and non-custodial parents. Even after court cases are heard, maintenance is still not being paid in too many cases. This damages all parties, especially the children involved, and proves that the current system is not working.

“We need a child maintenance service. The Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection recognises the importance of child maintenance payments, which can determine whether welfare supports are paid or not and at what level. Some 220,000 families need a child maintenance service that will support them. This is one of few western states that do not have this service in place. The United Nations has called on Ireland to establish such a service.

“Guidelines from a Minister are not good enough. This is a sensible, workable solution and those who need it, vulnerable lone parents and their children, as well as advocacy groups, are demanding that we introduce it."

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