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HOME  > Past issues  > 2016 September 7 - 13  > Drastic measures needed to reduce 90K children waiting to enter authorized daycare centers
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2016 September 7 - 13 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

Drastic measures needed to reduce 90K children waiting to enter authorized daycare centers

September 8, 2016
Akahata editorial (excerpts)

The number of children who could not get into authorized public childcare centers in April was 23,553, an increase for two consecutive years. In addition, at least 67,354 children are on so-called “hidden waiting lists”. Including these children, the figure totals more than 90,000.

Recently, the Ministry of Welfare for the first time announced the number of “hidden children” in each municipality who are not officially on waiting lists. The ministry has excluded them from the conventional lists for more than a decade because their parents somehow managed to find a facility to look after their children or reluctantly extended their maternity/infant-care leaves after they unsuccessfully applied for their children’s admission to the authorized facilities. Besides those “hidden children”, it is pointed out that the potential need for increased childcare services among parents who take care of their children on their own is substantial.

The national government should take this into consideration and do something to solve the problems. It is urgently needed for the government to establish strict standards in terms of childcare workers and facilities. It should also expand the number of authorized childcare centers that offer relatively-low daycare fees.

The Japanese Communist Party proposes that new authorized centers be immediately established to accommodate 300,000 children. What is needed most in eliminating children on waiting lists is the leadership of the national and local governments. In order to increase the number of authorized childcare facilities, they should build more municipality-run daycare centers and use all possible means such as providing the use of public land free of charge.

The Abe government, however, turns its back on the parents demand for expansion of daycare services. It instead promotes the private sector-led nursery schools and daycare centers where the number of certified childcare workers is often much less than in authorized centers. The present government has a policy of deregulating the national standards for childcare centers and cramming waiting listed children into existing facilities. This policy only decreases the childcare quality and threatens children’s sound growth and development. The government’s deregulation policy is totally unacceptable as it could endanger the very safety of children.

The increase in the number of waiting listed children has continued for two straight years after the central government introduced the new system of deregulation and backpedaled on its responsibility for public childcare services two years ago. This brings into relief the system’s contradictions and defects. The government set a target to achieve a “zero waiting list” by the end of fiscal 2017 but it is unlikely that that goal will be reached.

Again, the need now is for both the central and local governments to fulfill their responsibility for building more authorized public childcare centers and radically improving working conditions to solve the shortage of certified childcare workers.

Past related articles:
> Higashikurume City gives up its plan to close all public childcare centers [September 3, 2016]
> JCP presents urgent proposal for better childcare services [April 6, 2016]
> Welfare Ministry intends to make childcare centers accept children beyond their capacity [March 29, 2016]
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