The number of children on public day care waiting lists has grown for a third consecutive year as more women continue to join the workforce, the government said Friday, raising doubts about its ability to achieve full enrollment by fiscal 2020.

Children awaiting enrollment in authorized day care facilities had grown by 2,528 from a year earlier to 26,081 as of April, the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry said.

This was partly caused by the new way such children are defined. This year, the definition includes children cared for by working parents who had to extend child care leave because they weren't able to get their kids enrolled in day care.