National / Social Issues

Parents' search for day care centers a drag, ministry finds in poll

Kyodo, Staff Report

Eighty-four percent of parents who wanted to put their child in a day care facility found the process of finding a spot “tiresome and a burden,” according to a recent health ministry survey.

The survey was conducted after an angry blog post by a mother who failed to find a day care spot went viral in February, prompting the government to come up with emergency measures to tackle the issue.

“Even when people eventually find a spot at day care, they find the process tiresome,” said a health ministry official. “We will try to ease the burden.”

The survey was conducted from April 11 to 17 and targeted parents in 123 municipalities that had more than 50 children on day care waiting lists as of April 1 last year.

The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry released interim results of the survey and will publish the final results in the middle of this month.

The survey showed that many found it a burden to visit the city office numerous times and reported difficulty finding out what they wanted to know. Others said they had to put their child temporarily in day care centers other than those that cleared government criteria before finding a spot at a government-authorized facility.

Since government-authorized day care centers are subsidized, they normally offer cheaper fees and often are more spacious. Fees are determined based on parental income. Other day care facilities offer a fixed fee.

Of the 1,544 people surveyed, 93 percent found a day care spot, but only 58 percent said it was the facility they had wanted, while 4 percent, or 61 people, could not find a spot.

Of those who failed to find a spot, some said it was because the facilities were full, while others said day care centers other than those authorized by the central government charged higher fees.

Twenty-two people extended their maternity or paternity leave; five quit their jobs.

Asked when they started looking for day care facilities, 23 percent answered within six months of birth, but 19 percent said they did so while they were pregnant or even before.

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