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Get to Know Mirai no Mori Series #3 – Care Home Staff

Through this series, we deliver insights into the institutional care system in Japan, children in it, and Mirai no Mori’s mission. The home staff (care workers) are the adults who are the closest to children in the care system and their biggest supporters. They always accompany children to Mirai no Mori programs with a big smile. In this blog, we will peak into their job and working environment.

Series #3: Care Home Staff

            As adults closest to the children, home staff (care workers) watch over children’s growth right by their side, and they spare no effort in seeking children’s best interests. Even to us observing from the side, it is apparent that their jobs are tough. On top of the challenges of taking care of children of different ages and various backgrounds and personalities, supporting children living in care homes requires specialized skills and an enormous amount of patience.

            Care workers take care of children’s everyday needs, including housekeeping, laundry, and preparing meals. They also tend to children’s individual needs, such as communicating with schools and after-school programs. However, since many children still suffer from traumatic experiences from their past, caring for them requires specialized skills and knowledge. Since many children stay in touch with their parents and relatives, mediating the communication between them is also a part of the job. Not only are they “care workers” providing care for children, but they are also “family social workers” at the same time. Coordinating with relevant agencies such as Child Guidance Centers is also a crucial part of the job, which requires them to be up to date on laws and systems related to social care, including unique limitations children face at times.

            Care workers work in shifts to ensure that round-the-clock care is provided, and it’s not uncommon to be called in outside of their shift to handle emergencies for the children they are caring for. Due to the demanding working environment and the mental hardship of witnessing children’s dark past and struggles, this position has a high turnover rate. A 2014 research reports that more than half (50.5%) of those who directly took care of children had left the job within five years. The average number of care workers who left the position between 2011 to 2014 was 8.5 per home, meaning every home had lost 2-3 staff every year.【1】 A stable and consistent living environment is crucial for the children to overcome their trauma and grow, and yet, it is apparent that securing such an environment is difficult.

            In 2015, there was a major reform in law and policies surrounding the social care system. The reform increased the number of care home staff at each home and improved their baseline salaries. This reform became the first major overhaul of the system in 40 years.【2】 The support system for care workers at the job and unified training guidelines were also developed, as some attention is finally directed to the staff, and not just the children.

            There are still over 25,000 children who live in care homes across Japan, each with unique backgrounds, personalities, and dreams of their own. Care workers play crucial roles in children’s journey to overcome their dark past and towards a brighter future. However, it is not easy to always provide the best and equal opportunities for all children in the system. To give children the best chance possible, many care homes utilize external resources to support the children to pursue their dreams. These external opportunities give insights into different fields of work and lifestyles and introduce children to varieties of values and perspectives. Care workers’ relentless pursuit of opportunities for the children outside of homes makes them crucial partners for Mirai no Mori, allowing us to continue on our mission.

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Series #1 – Children’s Care Homes

Series #2 – The Children

[REFERENCES]

  1. 公益財団法人 資生堂社会福祉事業財団. 「社会的養護(児童福祉施設)における人材育成に係る要件に関する研究」報告書. PIIF Shiseido Social Welfare Foundation, [Research on Crucial Matters Concerning Human Resource Development in Social Welfare (Childe Welfare Facilities)],(online) https://www.zaidan.shiseido.co.jp/activity/carriers/publication/pdf/research201604.pdf (last visited June. 20, 2021)
  2. 全国児童養護施設協議会. 児童養護施設の研修​体系-人材育成のための指針-. 平成20年2月, Japan National Council of Children’s Welfare, [On Training Systems at Foster Homes – Guidelines on Human Resources Development – (2008 Feb)], (online) http://www.zenyokyo.gr.jp/whatsnew/160501kensyu-shishin.pdf (last visited, June. 20, 2021)