COVID19 Information and Updates for Parents and Services

COVID19 Information and Updates for Parents and Services

Due to COVID-19 we have closed our Drop-in Service but our information service will remain operational

Our information service remains open but as a response to COVID-19 recommendations to the public, we have suspended our drop-in service until further notice. For now and until further notice if you have any queries, call our confidential helpline on 01 6700120, email us at info@treoir.ie, or log your query on our website here to request a call back, or you can still message us through our Facebook or twitter accounts. Our operational hours are Monday – Friday 10am – 4pm, excluding public holidays. Take care, be safe, and stay well!

President of District Court Services – Family Law Statement

Judge Colin Daly, President of the District Court issues Family Law statement.

Due to COVID-19 Public Health measures District Courts are operating on skeleton staff Domestic Violence cases will be heard on an emergency basis. The Courts urge parents who are experiencing challenges over access to continue access agreements where possible, or if there is a genuine health reason, try to find alternative ways to keep both parents in touch with their child. Where new  arrangements need to be agreed and there is a Court Order in place, parents are free to do so, but this should be done in a fair manner.

Family mediation helpline is available to aid parents who find themselves in conflict over access or maintenance at this time, and Treoir are also here to support parents as well as other services listed in the below statement.

As mentioned, only Domestic Violence cases are being heard, but if a good case can be made, access/custody may be heard.

Read statement here.

The Law Society of Ireland have also issued a statement in relation to guidance around Access and Maintenance of children, you can read that statement below –

Family and Child Law Committee guidelines during Covid-19

Temporary Guardianship

Given the reality of COVID-19  you might want to name a Temporary Guardian in the event that you are hospitalised due to being treated for the virus.

A qualifying guardian* may nominate a person (nomination form) to act as a guardian if he/she is unable, through serious illness or injury, to exercise his/her guardianship rights.  The nomination must be made in writing and can specify the rights and responsibilities that the nominated person can exercise.  The nominated person must then apply to the court for guardianship rights when and if necessary.  Each guardian, parent and TUSLA the Child and Family Agency will be informed of such an application.  The decision of the court will be made in the best interests of the child and may take the views of the child into account where possible given the child’s age and understanding.

*A qualifying guardian, in relation to a child, means a person who is a guardian of that child and who:

  • is the parent of the child and has custody of him/her, or
  • is not being the parent of the child, has custody of him or her to the exclusion of any living parent of the child.

The courts are not currently dealing with general case hearings, however, in the event of an emergency, a nominated Temporary Guardian may be able to apply to the Courts to gain limited Temporary Guardianship rights.

District Courts to Close – only emergency domestic violence cases to be heard

In the interest of public safety only hearings involving emergency domestic violence applications will be dealt with until March 29th, and all other matters are to be adjourned.
Parties will receive written notice of their adjournment court date following the hearing.

We understand that some parents may be having difficulties adhering to existing access arrangements where they have concerns about their children being at risk of contracting COVID-19 or if they feel access might put others at risk. Here are some guidelines to help you if you feel you have concerns with making access with your child:

  • Do you know anyone who has been diagnosed with Covid-19?
  • Do you and everyone in the home feel well?
  • Do you or anyone in your home have flu like symptoms/temperature/shortness of breath/cough?
  • If so, have you contacted your GP by telephone for medical advice? What is the advice given by the GP?
  • Has anyone in the house travelled recently from abroad?
  • Are those present able to perform effective hand hygiene and carry out this task for young children?

Note: In the event that access is cancelled, the reason for that decision should be recorded in the event that an access hearing ensues.

Shared parenting

During COVID-19 school closures we understand that parenting may be challenging for parents who are not together and may be difficult for lone parents in particular. For parents who are sharing parenting, through access arrangements we understand that difficulties may arise if parents need to review access arrangements either to increase access hours to share parenting during school closures or where a primary parent falls ill, or limits access due to social isolation or where a parent may be a high risk or contracts the virus. At such times it is important that parents communicate well, understand each other’s anxieties, support each other in their parenting and put your children first as they may very well feel anxious themselves.

Tips:

  • If you have concerns regarding access and custody arrangements communicate them early and ahead of access times if possible, this avoids any confrontation at pick-up times where the children may overhear difficult conversations.
  • Try to understand each other’s position regarding parenting. In a lot of cases Mothers may be parenting alone with limited access arrangements, so Fathers could try to acknowledge this extra challenge during school closures and offer to help out more if at all possible.
  • Children may be feeling very anxious about their loved ones, or themselves getting sick. The HSE and schools offer very good advice on speaking to your children about COVID-19. But for children in shared parenting families, it is important that any difficulties in sharing parenting during this time is dealt with appropriately so as not to cause additional worry in your children.

If you have concerns about access arrangements going ahead here are some questions you could think about before cancelling or rearranging access:

  • Do you know anyone who has been diagnosed with Covid-19?
  • Do you and everyone in the home feel well?
  • Do you or anyone in your home have flu like symptoms/temperature/shortness of breath/cough?
  • If so, have you contacted your GP by telephone for medical advice? What is the advice given by the GP?
  • Has anyone in the house travelled recently from abroad?
  • Are those present able to perform effective hand hygiene and carry out this task for young children?

Note: In the event that access is cancelled, the reason for that decision should be recorded in the event that an access hearing ensues.

Talking to your children about the Coronavirus

It is important to talk to your child as they may be feeling anxious about getting ill, or their loved ones getting the virus. Here is a useful link provided by the Department of Education about talking to your children.

Barnardos Launched Dedicated Helpline

Barnardoc have just launched a dedicated telephone and email support service to provide advice to parents on a wide range of issues that may have come up during this time. If you or someone you know needs extra parental support they are there to help.

This service will be staffed by Barnardos project workers who are trained professionals. Some issues that parents may need support on include:

  • How to talk to your children about the corona virus
  • Setting a good routine
  • Managing children’s behaviours and sibling dynamics
  • Managing aggression and family discord
  • Home schooling/managing school expectations.
  • Fostering natural learning opportunities in the home
  • Healthy eating
  • Accessing fun and educational activities for families and individual children
  • Managing your child’s worries
  • Self-care for parents
  • Helping parents manage their own worries and anxieties
  • Managing children’s online activity

You can make contact with this service by phoning 1800 910 123 between 10.00am and 2.00pm Monday to Friday or by emailing parentsupport@barnardos.ie.

They also provide specialist services and support in relation to bereavementadoption and fostering.

Stay safe.

Treoir calls on the Government to support Lone Parents during school closures

Treoir call on the government to support lone parents staying home to mind their children during this COVID19 pandemic. Employers should be flexible at this time and the government should seek to ensure that lone parents who are working are not put at risk of poverty, instead, they should be protected at this time if they have to stay home to mind children. Some suggestions are:

– working from home

– offering staff to pay back any time taken at a later date

– flexible working hours to suit possible alternative childcare arrangements

– paid leave

Treoir Call on ‘An Post’ to accommodate Lone Parents

In a bid to follow social distancing guidelines, An Post asked customers to refrain from bringing their children to post offices. Treoir quickly responded by highlighting how lone parents would need to bring their children along as some parents often don’t have anyone to care for their children while carrying out day-to-day tasks, particularly when adhering to such social distancing. We wrote a letter to An Post, who have since responded by apologizing for any confusing caused and clarified that An Post welcome parents who have no option but to bring their children along.

You can read our letter to An Post here.

New Social Welfare Provisions are in place to support new jobseekers

The Department of Employment and Social Protection have issued an emergency payment called UNEMPLOYMENT PANDEMIC PAYMENT for those who are unemployed during this time due to closures. This payment is €350 per week – you can find updates from welfare.ie and other information from their updates here.

For those of you who were in receipt of this emergency payment at €203 you do not need to reapply, the increase will be paid to you automatically.

For those who cannot access this payment you may be entitled to supplementary benefit – call your local Intreo office for further information. You can find your local Intreo Officer location using this link.

If your working hours are reduced to 3 days or less per week you should apply for Short Time Work Support which is a form of Jobseeker’s Benefit.

 

Quick and Easy way to apply for Social Welfare Supports

MyWelfare: Quick and Easy Online Application Process for Everyone, as follows:

The Department’s online portal www.MyWelfare.ie  is by far the easiest and quickest way for all customers to apply. All a customer needs is their email address, PPSN and bank account details.

Now on www.MyWelfare.ie  all customers can:

  • Apply for the Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment;
  • Apply for Enhanced Illness Benefit for Covid-19 including for self-isolation cases;
  • Apply for a jobseeker’s payment; and
  • Request to close their Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment.

 All that is required is for the individual to have an email address, a bank account and a PPSN. Simply go onto the Covid-19 Services section of the website and apply for the payment.

 Setting up an account is required but the Department informs us it is a simple and straight forward process.

 This online channel enables the Department to quickly process applications, while being convenient, safe and easy for individuals to use.

 

Post Offices allowing people to nominate persons to collect welfare payments

Post Offices are also implementing the extension of the ‘Temporary Agent’ facility for customers whereby you can nominate someone to collect your payment for you. Download appointment of temporary agent application form here.

DEASP Income Support Helpline for COVID-19

This helpline provides information on available income supports for people impacted by COVID-19. Our information team can advise on the most suitable income supports for your circumstances and provide information on how to make an application.
Phone: 01 248 1398,  1890 800024
Note – : The rates charged for using 1890 (Locall) numbers may vary.
Visit gov.ie for more information

Department of Employment and Social Protection to issue Double-week 23rd March

The Department of Employment and Social Protection will issue a double-week to all in receipt of social welfare payments next week. This is to facilitate those who may need to self-isolate. those receiving payments through their bank accounts will also receive double payments. You will find more information here.

NOTE: Persons not in receipt of any payment on the week of 23rd March will receive their double-week on week of 30th March.

Lone Parents in receipt of Working Family Payment & One Parent Family Payment

If you are a lone parent in receipt of working family payment, JST, one-parent family payment etc and need to stay home to mind your child during school closures you should call your local Intreo office to discuss how your payment may be effected.

Currently, those in receipt of one parent family payment cannot apply for UNEMPLOYMENT PANDEMIC PAYMENT, but as above, you should call your Intreo Office to discuss how your payment may be reviewed given your loss of salary. The Department of Employment and Social Protection are reviewing the situation on a daily basis.

You can find your local Intreo Officer location using this link

You can find updates from welfare.ie and other information from their updates here.

Housing, Mortgages, Rent and Loans

Some announcements were made about measures to protect those who may have difficulty making loan, rent, and mortgage repayments. There has also been a moratorium on evictions and rent increases was announced by Minister for Housing on 19 March. You can get more information on these announcements here on Citizens Information website.

Be safe, and stay well!

 

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