In implementing the Comprehensive Childcare Support Initiative the current mayor, Masami Tada, established four basic principles.
First, provide loving care in a homelike environment. If you are going to offer a service caring for mothers’ children on their behalf, even if only for a few hours, it must deliver the same warm, human touch as does a mother.
Second, insofar as possible reduce the number of children on the daycare waiting list. As many working women should be helped as possible.
Third, minimize the cost to public finances. The program needs to be made sustainable by keeping both the initial investment and lifecycle costs as low as possible.
Fourth, provide a seamlessly integrated set of services tailored to different stages in children’s growth. Ensuring children’s healthy development requires offering the type of childcare most effective for each age group.
All four principles are indispensable to fostering the healthy growth of children and enabling women to enter the workforce without worry.
By capitalizing on these principles, the initiative had as of April 1, 2011, yielded many benefits.
To start with, 388 babies under the age of one were being lovingly cared for in a homelike environment by 211 home daycare providers — the largest number anywhere in Japan.
Furthermore, 49 private nursery schools with flexible daycare schedules had been attracted tothe city, providing places for 2,870 extra children.
And with the implementation of the Sukusuku School program (community based after-school program), the area available for children’s activities expanded almost seventyfold, from 9,905 m2 to 700,480 m2. At the same time the number of children enrolled in the program climbed eightfold from 3,220 to 24,867, while the number of children on the waiting list went from some 200 to zero. The figure of 24,867 enrolled is equivalent to 66% of all the elementary-school children in Edogawa City.
Childcare support services are also available in case of a sudden work commitment or illness. The Family Support program (mutual support program for childcare), with 3,676 members signed up, was used on 12,048 separate occasions in 2010.
The Comprehensive Childcare Support Initiative is not only of great promise in promoting the social advancement of working women and women wishing to start working; thanks to the high quality of the services it offers, it is also of value in building the character of children themselves.
In Edogawa, moreover, children’s healthy growth is supported by people in the neighborhood. The Comprehensive Childcare Support Initiative thus contributes greatly to invigorating the community.
In recognition of these achievements, Edogawa has been selected as one of seven cities in Japan that strike a successful balance between work and family. And in March 2010 it adopted a declaration committing it to promoting work-life balance.