Minister for Children Katherine Zappone has said she is pressing for a change to the rule where homeless families can sometimes access emergency accommodation for only one night at a time.

Ms Zappone said that families who have not found a place to stay by 5pm or 6pm in the evening, have to go through the Dublin Regional Homeless Authority or Focus Ireland and there is currently a one night only rule.

Speaking at an event this morning in relation to a Growing Up in Ireland study, she said families, particularly those with small children should not have to go through the stress of having to look for accommodation every night.

Ms Zappone said she has asked Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy to change this rule so that those families could get a place to stay for at least three nights.

She also said she has encountered some resistance because it could be a pull factor which could encourage people to come to Ireland to access the system.

She said she understands the concerns but has seen families in the Focus Café and knows what a difference this would make.

The Dublin Region Homeless Executive (DRHE) has said that 63 families are currently accessing what it terms 'contingency beds'.

It said that families return to the same contingency bed for as long as needed but may have to stay in touch daily or weekly to renew their booking and update the local authority in relation to their assessment.

The DRHE said it accommodated 1,294 families in the month of September in emergency accommodation.

In a statement the Department of Housing said that in rare and isolated circumstances, where a family presents to homeless services, in order to provide shelter they are offered immediate accommodation for that night. 

It says the local authority works with the family to ascertain their circumstances and assist in finding long-term accommodation.

The Department of Housing said it does not have a policy to offer one-night only accommodation.