We talked about how parents in Japan can take up to two years of paid leave following their childbirth. After the period ends or if you need to go back to work earlier, the common practice is to enroll your child in a daycare or nursery school.
As a working parent in Japan, finding quality daycare for your child can be a challenging and overwhelming task. With long waiting lists, high demand, and a variety of options to choose from, the search for the right daycare facility can feel like a full-time job. But fear not, we have created a comprehensive guide to help you navigate the world of daycare in Japan. From public and private facilities to community-based hoiku-en and company-operated centers, this guide will provide you with the information and resources you need to find the perfect daycare for your little one. So sit back, relax, and let us guide you through this important decision.
The Challenge of Daycare in Japan
One of the biggest challenges facing working parents in Japan is the shortage of available daycare spots. According to a report by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, the number of children on waiting lists for daycare facilities in Japan was 28,000 in 2020. This shortage is particularly acute in urban areas where demand is highest. As a result, many parents are forced to rely on family members or babysitters, which can be expensive and may not always be reliable.
Another challenge is the high cost of daycare. In Japan, daycare fees are partially subsidized by the government, but parents are still required to pay a significant portion of the cost. The fees vary depending on the location and type of facility but can range from around 20,000 to 50,000 yen (approximately $180 to $450) per month. For families with multiple children or low-income households, the cost can be prohibitive.
Tips and Resources to Find Daycare in Japan
With a shortage of available spots and a high
price for daycare facilities, it can be difficult to know where to start. In this article, we will provide tips and resources for finding daycare in Japan that meets the needs of working parents.
Start Early and Be Flexible
The demand for daycare in Japan is high, and many facilities have waiting lists that can be months or even years long. To ensure that you can secure a spot, it's important to start your search early. Begin looking for daycare at least six months before you will need it. Be flexible with your search and consider a variety of options, including public and private facilities, community-based hoiku-en, and company-operated daycare centers.
It's also a great idea to make a list of places you are interested in and sort it by your preferences. If the first daycare is full, you have already prepared the second option. There’s no need to panic or start your search from square one.
Utilize Online Resources
Several online resources can help you find daycare in Japan. The Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare operates a database of licensed daycare facilities throughout the country. The database includes information such as facility size, fees, and contact information. Another useful resource is the Japan Childcare Resource Center, which provides information on daycare options and financial assistance programs for working parents.
Seek Recommendations and Referrals
Ask friends, family, and colleagues for recommendations and referrals to quality daycare facilities. You can also seek out recommendations from online parenting communities and forums. Additionally, many employers offer support and resources for working parents, including referrals to reputable daycare facilities.
Consider Your Child's Needs
When selecting a daycare facility, it's important to consider your child's individual needs. Consider factors such as the location of the facility, the hours of operation, the size of the facility, and the age range of the children in attendance. You may also want to consider factors such as the quality of care, the educational programs offered, and the availability of outdoor play areas.
International daycare is quite popular in Japan
Visit Facilities and Ask Questions
Before enrolling your child in a daycare facility, it's important to visit the facility and ask questions. This will help you to get a sense of the environment and the quality of care provided. Consider factors such as the cleanliness of the facility, the ratio of caregivers to children, and the qualifications of the staff. You should also ask about the facility's policies on things such as discipline, illness, and emergency situations.
Types of Daycare
As mentioned before, being flexible in choosing a daycare can ease the whole process. Therefore, you have to know several types of daycare available for working parents in Japan. These include:
Public daycare centers
These are government-run daycare centers that are available to all families. They generally offer full-day care and education for children from three months to six years old. Fees for public daycare centers are based on a sliding scale according to the family's income.
Private daycare centers
These are privately run daycare centers that offer full-day care and education for children from three months to six years old. Private daycare centers may have more flexibility in terms of scheduling and curriculum, but they tend to be more expensive than public daycare centers.
Employer-operated daycare centers
Many companies in Japan operate their own daycare centers for the children of employees. These daycare centers may offer discounts or subsidies for employees and may be more convenient for parents who work long hours or have irregular schedules.
Community-based daycare centers
These are daycare centers that are operated by local communities, such as neighborhood associations or religious organizations. They may offer full-day or part-time care for children and tend to be less expensive than private daycare centers.
This is a type of daycare where a caregiver provides care for a small group of children in their own home. Family daycare is often more flexible in terms of scheduling and may be a good option for parents who work irregular hours.
Finding a daycare can be quite a challenge for new parents in Japan, especially in urban areas. There are many options for nursery facilities, but availability may vary depending on location and demand. Parents need to research and visit different types of daycare facilities to find the one that best meets their family's needs. However, being flexible will also help during the process.