Child daycare services on Okinawa
By David Higgins
On Okinawa you have many options for childcare services, but not all childcare services are created equal, and you may be better off exploring your options before you decide.
If your child is between 6 weeks to 5 years of age you can explore some of the on-base options at the Child Development Centers. There are four locations on the Marine bases; one on Camp Courtney, one on Camp Kinser and two on Camp Foster, and there are also locations on Kadena Air Base. The care on base leans towards a more play-orientated atmosphere and less of classroom atmosphere. The rate of payment for your child to be cared for is calculated on the rank and salary you receive, so if you are high-ranking officer you will be paying a premium price compared to lower-rank personnel.
Another option for childcare is off base private childcare centers. The off-base child centers could be a less expensive option if you are a higher-ranking officer. Because they are privately owned, they may
be able to offer more options for services due to stiff competition between many centers off base.
For instance, one such private childcare center is named Baby 123 Island Daycare, and is located close to the Sunabe Seawall. This daycare center specializes in caring for your child while you are at work, but also provides the opportunity for your child to spent time outside with nature as well as plenty of class time to further their educational growth. The Baby 123 Day Care gives themselves high marks for being a daycare center with an Okinawa Island style, allowing children to be exposed to the wonderful natural and cultural things that Okinawa has to offer.
The owner, Takako Cairns, says, “I think it is important to find a school that has a lot of outside playtime, this not only keeps kids happy but also very healthy. Living on Okinawa is the perfect opportunity to allow your child to experience another culture, so having a school with good teachers that can introduce Japanese culture is such a special opportunity for children”.
Children can also be enrolled into a public off-base daycare center if one parent is a Japanese resident. Depending on where you live, you can register your child at a school close to your residential area by going to the City or Town Office. In Japan, the school year starts April 1st, so you should plan to visit the City or Town Office in the months of January and February to guarantee an available spot. The fees for enrolling your child in the public system are subsidized by the Japanese government, but you are still required to pay a fixed-amount as the subsidy doesn’t cover the entire cost. If you are on a lower income bracket, some of the fees are waived.
Whether you are actively hunting for a school to enroll your child in, or about to have a child and planning for the future, it is recommended that you check out all your options by physically visiting each school in person to check out the facilities. Most school visits are made by appointment only, so picking up the phone and making some plans is a great way to ensure your child will receive the best care possible.