More Japanese Children Gets Waitlisted 3 Years Now

Japan’s number of waitlisted children for day care enrollment has been increasing for three years in a row now. This year, the number grew by 2,528 from 26,081 recorded last April 2016 according to the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry. This is due to several factors. One of which is more women joining the workforce. Another is the government’s change of definition of waitlisted children. The scope now includes children cared for by working parents who had to extend child care leave since they were not able to enroll them in an authorized public day care center.


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While in seven prefectures including Aomori and Fukui, no child is on the list, big cities such as Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka have accounted for 72.1% of the country’s waitlisted children.


Slots at preschools and day care centers have increased by 93,000 from 2016, but the applications all the more climbed up to more than 90,000 now amounting to 2.6 million. The ministry announced last June a plan to create additional facilities for 320,000 children by end of 2022. However, achieving such target is a challenge as operational costs are ballooning. Just this year, the cost of running the preschool and day care centers went to ¥1.5 trillion from ¥885 billion in 2013. Add to this is the shortage of nursery staff that even when the government increased their salary, the manpower remains insufficient.


Given all these, the government has pushed back its goal of achieving full enrollment to March 2021 from its original target of March 2018.


Reference:  Day care waiting lists grow for third year straight as more women get jobs


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