Nation’s after school care center shortage worsens

Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare announced Monday that nationwide, as of May 1st, 2016, there were 17,203 elementary school children who could not enroll in after school care centers. The number is 262 more than the year before, and the highest ever. In Okinawa, there were 661 such children that places the prefecture in the 7th place of all prefectures in Japan.

The demand for the after school care centers has been increasing, but there are not enough facilities. The government is in the process of increasing the facilities to enough for 1.22 million students by the end of March 2019.

The care centers were designed at students between 1st and 3rd grades in the past, but the mandate was widened to cover all grades from April 2015. The total number of students who go to after school care centers in Japan reached 1,093 million that is 68,000 more than the year before.

By prefecture, the number of children unable to enroll was 3,417 in Tokyo that is the most in the nation. Saitama, Chiba, and Shizuoka had over a thousand each. At the same time, no children were on the waiting list in Niigata and Fukui.

The number of care centers open after 6 p.m. has increased both during the weekdays (51.8%) and holiday seasons, including summer holidays (51.1%).