National

Japan aims to bolster staff at nationwide child consultation centers by 2,890

JIJI

The government will aim to increase the ranks of caseworkers and other staff at the nation’s child welfare and child consultation centers by 2,890 people by fiscal 2022 in an effort to prevent child abuse, it has been learned.

The target is part of a state plan to strengthen such facilities in response to a high-profile case of child abuse in March that resulted in the death of 5-year-old girl in Tokyo’s Meguro Ward.

According to informed sources, the plan calls for adding about 2,020 caseworkers by fiscal 2022, bolstering the 3,240 on hand in fiscal 2017.

Welfare caseworkers are usually tasked with taking suspected abuse victims into temporary custody and handling inquiries from parents, for example.

The plan, which will be announced later this month, also seeks to bolster the nation’s 1,360 child psychologists by about 790, and its 140 health nurses by around 70.

If the targets are achieved, the number of staffers included in the three job categories combined will come to some 7,620.

In addition, the plan calls for establishing in all municipalities comprehensive child care support facilities where professional staff members, such as social workers and doctors, offer advice to people in need of support, including expecting mothers, parents facing child rearing problems and children in danger of being abused, the sources said.

These facilities will give assistance to such people through cooperation with child consultation centers, the police, hospitals and other institutions.

As of February, comprehensive child care support facilities were extant in 106 municipalities.

In Japan, the number of child abuse cases handled by child consultation centers has been rising year by year, hitting a record high of 133,778 in fiscal 2017.