baby stations
child support center of Itabashi city

The Problem

I used to give up going outside, or go home as soon as I could so I wouldn’t have to nurse the baby when I needed to go out with them because I often couldn’t find someplace good to change their diapers or nurse them when I needed to.
Staff workers at city public day care centers used to hear things like that from mothers often before the Akachan-no-Eki—Baby Stations, a place for guardians of young babies to feed them and take care of their diapers.
In urban societies such as Tokyo where there is a lack of local communities formed through kinship and territorial bonds, seemingly trivial issues like these can make mothers hesitant about going outdoors, making them inclined to raise their child within isolated, closed environments.
A possible trigger for abuse, the resulting isolation for mothers and children is one of great concern to society.
Since the Child Abuse Prevention Law came into effect in 2000, the number of reports of abuse at child counseling centers, which, along with providing consultation on a broad range of welfare issues and work with other related facilities to deal with problems concerning children in a consistent manner, also remove children from their homes in order to put them in temporary
foster care when necessary, has come to be an escalating race of yearly increases.
With the further degeneration of the financial situation of the central government and the municipalities, the point has been
reached where approaches with originality and ingenuity were necessary to help create a local, community-based society
conductive to raising children; it was under this background that the Baby Stations were formed.

Solution and Key Benefits

 What is the initiative about? (the solution)
Along with offering support to guardians who want to be able to go outside freely with their infants and nursing babies, the Baby Stations also act as a place for them to get council for their concerns and worries about child rearing and development anytime when needed.
 This is because staff members who have the necessary licenses and qualifications—such as for child care workers, nursery school teachers and nurses, etc.—are employed as full-time workers at each Baby Station.
 The Baby Stations work to bring together solutions for anxiety relieve for mothers by acting as a place where they can stop by casually while just going out for a walk, especially for those times when parents feel like while their child is not sick enough to go to the hospital, there is still something about it that makes them worry and they want some advice.
 As a problem necessary to overcome in order to be able to raise children into healthy citizens who are the future of our community, getting rid of the types of vague anxiety and melancholy that can arise in everyday life when raising children so that both mothers and children lively healthily in body and mind is an extremely large and significant effect of the Baby Station
 Furthermore, in the sense that it utilizes existent facilities and staff and has minimal costs (even including flags and stickers it
comes to just a few hundred dollars a year), it is also a program that is easy to expand.
 At the moment there are 140 locations throughout the city, including universities and NPOs on top of city facilities.
 Baby Stations are also expanding not just within Itabashi, but across Japan as an example of original and ingenious child-rearing support
and is being implemented by other municipalities, as well as being combined with the production of Odekake Mappu (Day-out
Maps) and other information supplied through the internet.

Actors and Stakeholders

 Who proposed the solution, who implemented it and who were the stakeholders?
The original creators of the proposal were two city workers: One a child-care worker employed at one of the city day-care centers, whose calling it is to supply services which are appropriate and ever more convenient for guardians of young children, and one a staff worker employed at a city public Children’s Hall, a place for local school-age children to play safely after classes. In Itabashi, there is a staff-proposal system called the Programs of Excellence Stimulation Fund which aims to improve development in city administration and advance services, and anyone, regardless of their internal or external affiliation, may submit a proposal. Having applied to this program, they received funding under the Children and Families division, which is for programs concerned with the advancement of family and children services, after which they put the program into operation comprehensively by recruiting designs for the flags to act as its symbol, etc.. Since the program does not have any financial interests, it also received the support not just of city facilities but also NPOs and universities within the city, and the number of facilities with Baby Stations
set up are constantly increasingly.

(a) Strategies

 Describe how and when the initiative was implemented by answering these questions
 a.      What were the strategies used to implement the initiative? In no more than 500 words, provide a summary of the main objectives and strategies of the initiative, how they were established and by whom.
In 2005, the two day-care and Children’s Hall workers who proposed the program applied to and won the Programs of Excellence Stimulation Fund for the improvement and development of city administration and services in the Children and Families division, for programs concerned with the advancement of family and children services, upon which it was reviewed for actualization, given a budget in 2006 of \189,000 and put into operation.
 The aim of the Baby Station program was to assign city public day care centers and Children’s Halls as “Baby Stations” as a part of child-care support for guardians of nursing babies, and so to encourage guardians of young babies to go outside. By doing so, it was an attempt to create the environmental conditions necessary so that would be able to outside without worry about changing diapers or giving milk, and therefore also increasing their opportunities to stop by children welfare service facilities.
 Through this, the Baby Stations ultimately hoped to create an open child-rearing community where people could raise their children with ease of mind without alienating mothers, and where guardians could talk about their child-rearing concerns and
troubles openly.
 Furthermore, through those works it also aimed to bolster the city’s image as a place that was easy to raise children and where
the whole community supports families.
 In terms of the specific services offered by the program, there are four main points: One, to create a place for mothers to give
milk to their babies; two, to offer hot water for preparing formula; three, to make a space for guardians to change their baby’s
diapers; and four, offer consultation services with guardians when necessary.

(b) Implementation

 b.      What were the key development and implementation steps and the chronology? No more than 500 words
The program started in June, 2006 with 37 city public Children’s Halls, 45 city public day care centers, and two Child-Rearing Places, for a total of 84 facilities. In 2007, that was expanded to include private day care centers and nursery schools, to a total of 123 facilities. In 2008 two NPO organizations became involved in the operational aspects of the program, and in 2009, nine universities and home services centers for the elderly also joined, with additional expansions to the Health and Welfare Centers in 2010 for a total of 140 facilities as of October 1st, 2010. In 2009, the Baby Station project was given the Kids Design Award for project designs where people can give birth and raise children with ease by contributing to the safety and comfort of raising children while developing creativity and the future. In 2010, the project also received the Good Design/Lifescape Design Award, which is given to designs and projects which deal with major issues concerning future living.

(c) Overcoming Obstacles

 c.      What were the main obstacles encountered? How were they overcome? No more than 500 words
There is a strongly rooted resistance towards letting in outsiders in from out of safety concerns amongst the staff at facilities which are charged with the safety of children such as day care centers and nursery schools. As employees of the same city, there were some difficulties in calling for changes in thinking amongst workers. However, project workers asked for approval by first appealing to them to try it for positive, not negative, reasons, such as that it would be difficult for problems in terms of crimes to arise as one can assume that most of the people participating in the program and utilizing the facilities will be mothers, and that from the point of view of improving the child-rearing environment, an increase in the number of young parents utilizing the program will also improve living within the city overall.
 In terms of getting residents to know about these new services, there was also a limit to how effective means such as city newsletters and homepages given that they will not be read by people if they do not make an effort to do so in the first place.   
 However, visits to Baby Stations increased when the program was given attention by outside media, which created a kind of
synergetic effect, a result of which the program added in new elements and sense of direction and caused a ripple effect out to
other municipalities.
 It was also further when it was taken up by the media as a low-cost, effective plan, which was directly linked to its receiving the
Kids Design Award and the Good Design Award, etc..

(d) Use of Resources

 d.      What resources were used for the initiative and what were its key benefits? In no more than 500 words, specify what were the financial, technical and human resources’ costs associated with this initiative. Describe how resources were mobilized
In terms of human resources, the desire of the staff working on this project, who were all originally specialists working as child care staff as city-employees to help rear children on the community-level and their knowledge and experience were all big factors in their success. Further, as the facilities used for the Baby Stations were primarily public places spread throughout the area, the major thing that was necessary to start things up was to ask the facilities to share a minimum amount of space necessary to change diapers and give milk, and depending on the situation, to put up curtains so that mothers could nurse their babies in privacy. Otherwise, designs for the flags which are set up at each facility and which act as a landmark for the Baby Stations were chosen by an open recruitment amongst city workers, and cost only \1580 a piece. Because the program uses existent facilities in new ways, it is possible to operate the program at extremely low-cost.

Sustainability and Transferability

  Is the initiative sustainable and transferable?
The program has progressively expanded since its establishment, so that what began with 84 facilities has now come up to 140.
 As the program in its current form also functions as a place to go to for consultation about child development and child rearing, expansion has thus far been planned only at places which already have staff who have the qualifications necessary to provide such services; however, Baby Stations could be increased even further and wider if the available necessary services were set to a minimum of space for mothers to nurse their babies and take care of their toiletry.
 Thanks in part to its having been given attention by the media, since 2006 many groups have visited the facilities, with five visits in 2006, five in 2007, 14 in 2008, and five in 2009.
 There have also been many other inquiries, and the program has spread out to other municipalities; similar programs have now been put into operation in many places.
 Furthermore, there are also signs that it has gotten the private section involved with community child care support: With the program having spread to other areas, companies dealing with baby goods have made cross-sectional maps about them, making
such information available to its customers on line, for example.
 Upon receiving the 2010 Good Design Award, the Baby Station project received much positive feedback, it being written that
“(i)ts easy to understand naming and the fact that it is simple to implement has led to its positive evaluation and spread
throughout the country, so that now many other, similar projects are also being pushed on in other municipalities. . . .
 It began with a small idea, but having received sympathy from other municipalities with similar problems, it is developing and
fixing itself as a project on the national-scale, greatly changing the face of child care support within Japan.”

Lessons Learned

 What are the impact of your initiative and the lessons learned?
This project came together through the dedicated and passionate efforts of staff working in the field daily who always give their best to supply maximally effective services for citizens with their limited resources and personnel, and who always value and try to put something together to respond to each and every citizen’s voice.
 With the effect of positive media attention, the project began to be known both throughout and beyond the local area, expanding into other municipalities and developing into a local collaborative project which also involved the private sector.  
 Those involved in the project feel deeply how it has become a necessary opportunity to foster a mood supportive on the local-level of the growth of our children, those treasures of our communities who will form the next generation, and the parents who are raising them.
 While the convenience of the project, which is fully-operational with just enough space to change diapers and give babies milk and some minimal equipment, is certainly recognizable as part of the reason for why the project has spread to other municipalities given today’s difficult financial circumstances, there is also a clearly felt sensation of how one staff member’s passion can create a
small but warm service which can spread outside of that to contribute to the local community.
 For city workers, the Baby Station project also was an opportunity to rethink how we deal within our work with the small, seemingly trivial issues to connect them up with citizens’ greater satisfaction.

Contact Information

Institution Name:   child support center of Itabashi city
Institution Type:   Government Agency  
Contact Person:   namie suzuki
Title:   manager,service adjustment subsection  
Telephone/ Fax:   03-3579-2656
Institution's / Project's Website:   03-3579-2659
Address:   36-1 sakaechou itabashi tokyo japan
Postal Code:   173-0015
City:   itabashi city
State/Province:   Tokyo
Country:   Japan

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