ChildLinks Issue 2: Diverse Families

Barnardos. (2018). ChildLinks Issue 2: Diverse Families.
The introduction of the Child and Family Relationships Act in 2015 represented a transformation in the legal recognition of families in Ireland. The Act modernised family law in a way that is inclusive of and sensitive to the reality of contemporary family life in Ireland and meets the needs of children living in diverse family types. It put children at the heart of family law, extending parental rights and responsibilities to non-traditional families, thereby providing legal clarity around various family types and addressing discrimination faced by children in non-marital families. This issue of ChildLinks looks at this diversity in family types in modern Ireland. In the first article, Jane Gray, Department of Sociology and Social Sciences Institute, Maynooth University looks at the long-term patterns of change in Irish families, including decreasing fertility rates, a rise in cohabiting couples, the ‘de-institutionalisation’ of marriage and an increase in the interest in extended family relationships and practices beyond the household. Karen Kiernan then gives an overview of the organisation One Family who work with women and men who are parenting completely alone, those who are working to share parenting of their children, those who are going through the long and complex journey of separation, family members of all those including grandparents, new partners and step-parents as well as with children from birth to adulthood. In the third article, Caitríona Nic Mhuiris shares her experience as a kinship carer and considers the benefits and challenges of this important role of caring for children who cannot be looked after by their birth parents because of death, parental separation, substance abuse, domestic violence, imprisonment, illness, and abandonment. She includes information on the plans for Kinship Care Ireland, a development involving those with an interest in parenting and family support to raise awareness of kinship care within the health, education and social care systems, and to develop comprehensive supports for kinship care into the future. Following this is an overview of The Irish Foster Care Association (IFCA), the child-centred and rights-based representative body for foster care in Ireland. IFCA promotes excellence in foster care for all those involved and works to influence policy, legislation and opinion through advocacy work. Finally, Paula Fagan of LGBT Ireland sets out the current situation in relation to legal rights and protections for same sex parents, and those planning parenthood, and highlights the main difficulties facing LGBT-headed families as a result.