• Kyodo

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Foster parents seeking to adopt a child will be allowed to take child care leave from next January under a new law enacted by the Diet this week.

Before the legal revision, only biological and adoptive parents were granted a basic one-year leave from work. Under the new law, foster parents will also be eligible if they have applied to adopt a child.

It will apply in scenarios such as if foster parents caring for a child aged under 6 over a period of at least six months move to initiate formal adoption.

Children who have been separated from their biological family due to abuse, death or other reasons are considered to be in need of constant care by a new family for some time.

But as a previous law did not grant foster parents child care leave, at least one member of the couple might have had to quit work to stay home with the child, effectively restricting fostering to single-income families.

“It will help working people and children alike,” said a 48-year-old woman in Saitama Prefecture who had to give up her job due to the previous law.

“I want people not to give up balancing both their work (and child care) so that they do not have to go through the same thing that I did.”

Takashi Hoshino, who heads a nationwide organization for foster parents, said that while he expected a rise in the number of working foster parents, the new law was still restrictive as it made seeking adoption a condition for allowing child care leave.

“From the standpoint of children, we want all foster parents to be given (the same right),” Hoshino said.

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