Children We Support

Care Homes

Children’s care homes are facilities that house children aged one to eighteen who cannot live with their parents or whose families cannot raise them adequately. There are various reasons children are admitted to these homes, including parents passing away, divorcing, falling ill, and economic hardship. However, admissions due to abuse have increased recently, and it is reported that over half of children in care homes have experienced abuse in the past.

Number of Children Living in Care Homes

Number of Care Homes in Japan

Percentage of Children Who Have Experienced Abuse in the Past

Percentage of Children Who Still Have Parent(s)

Life in Care Homes

Many care homes have now adopted a smaller group-home layout where a few children and care workers live together to simulate a household. The children attend local schools as well as pursue hobbies, sports, and other leisure activities. They can also take part in events at the care homes and join local children’s groups.

Care workers’ main task is to take care of children’s everyday needs, including liaising with schools and local communities. However, their duty also extends to managing relationships with the parents and coordinating with the child welfare center and the local government.

Issues Faced by the Children

Social Prejudice

Children’s care homes and the circumstances are still not fully understood by the public. There is a misconception that all children at the facility are “problematic” and “anti-social,” and many social rules and policies do not accommodate children in such situations. As a result, the children often encounter issues, such as difficulty renting an apartment or getting a contract for phone service, as well as outright discrimination at school or work. Many children and adults hide the fact that they live, or have lived, in care homes.

Psychological Trauma

Many children who grew up in such circumstances still suffer from psychological trauma. As a result, many of them face a variety of issues, not just in their day-to-day lives, but when they leave the care home and live independently.

 Lack of self-affirmation

Unable to trust adults and other people

Lack of confidence and low self-esteem

Little sense of adventure, extreme fear of failure

Poor communication ability

Indecisiveness and lack of resilience

Becoming Independent

In principle, children are required to leave care homes and live independently at age of 18, as they graduate from high school, and begin to manage every aspect of their lives. While they start to prepare for this transfer while in high school, it is nearly impossible to be fully ready for this sudden and substantial change from the sheltered life in care homes. And many children are overwhelmed by the new problems they encounter, such as managing their finances, balancing work and study, managing new relationships, social prejudice, and the stress of being alone.

Limited opportunities and the future

Once the children have graduated from high school and started to live independently, with no adults they can rely on, most of them choose to work, for economic reasons. A survey study showed that out of all students who graduated from high school in 2018 in Japan, about 70% of them advanced to higher education, while only about 30% of students who lived in care homes advanced to higher education in the same year. Even those who advance to higher education still need to work to support themselves, and some of them end up dropping out of school, due to the difficulty of balancing work with their studies.

Reference: Children’s Care Home Survey Result 2018: Social Independence and Its Support, NPO Bridge for Simile (Japanese only)

Unable to prepare themselves fully, without adequate social support, and still suffering from psychological trauma, many children cannot manage all the issues they encounter in their “independent” lives and some end up in situations far from ideal.

Working poor

Involvement in crime or sex industry

Homelessness Placement of their own children in care homes

It all adds up to broken dreams, lost opportunities for youth, and real social and economic costs for this society.