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HOME  > Past issues  > 2019 May 8 - 14  > Gov’t should ensure parents access to quality childcare service
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2019 May 8 - 14 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

Gov’t should ensure parents access to quality childcare service

May 9, 2019

Akahata editorial (excerpts)

The Abe government intends to enact a bill to amend the law on childrearing support in the current Diet session. The bill, however, faces increasing public criticism and concern that if enacted, it will endanger the safety of children at childcare facilities.

The bill proposes to implement a free-childcare program in October. Under the program, all families with children aged 3-5 years will be able to send their children to either an authorized childcare center that meets the state-set standards or a kindergarten without fees. In addition, low-income families with children aged 0-2 years will be eligible for free childcare services at authorized facilities. Parents using unauthorized care facilities will also receive financial support under the government-set limit. The government drew up the bill in a terrible hurry in order to start the free childcare program in October as the program will be financed with new revenues from the consumption tax increase to 10% in October. The Welfare Ministry that drafted the bill admits that it had not spend enough time on planning the program. As shown by this admission, the program has many problems.

They are particularly evident in the government stance toward unauthorized day nurseries. Under the bill, the government will provide subsidies to even private unauthorized facilities which fail to meet minimum standards for childcare for up to five years. This makes it possible for facilities with no certified childcare worker to apply for the state subsidies. The proposed measure is tantamount to giving a stamp of approval to these sub-standard facilities and allowing them to continue providing inferior childcare services and endangering children’s safety. The government promises to tighten supervision of inappropriate childcare facilities, but this is most likely an empty promise as the government appears to lack the resources to do so. Parents whose children died in accidents in childcare facilities severely criticize the bill as unacceptable, saying that it will put children in harm’s way. The government should sincerely listen to them.

The government-proposed bill has another serious problem. The amounts of money that the state will provide are different between public and private nurseries. This disparity might force municipal governments to either close down or privatize public child care centers that municipalities have to subsidize.

The urgent need now is to build more “authorized” childcare facilities so that all children will be able to receive professional care services. In order to achieve this, it is essential to solve the issue of the shortage of childcare workers by drastically improving their working conditions. The government will be able to secure the necessary funds by having large corporations and the wealthy shoulder their fair share of taxes. There is no need to increase the consumption tax rate. What is called for is the creation of a government that works to ensure that parents have access to quality childcare service with affordable fees.

Past related articles:
> JCP Tamura: Build more authorized childcare centers instead of subsidizing for-profit corporate-led facilities [March 24, 2019]
> Parents make request to Dietmembers for more childcare centers [February 23, 2018]

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