A variety of services and support are available to help you raise your child. The following information mainly explains public facilities, systems, and financial aid that provide needed consultations and support. Information about daycare centers and kindergartens can also be found.
Infant/toddler health checkup
Your baby is eligible for free health examinations to check his/her development and health when he/she is 3-4 months old, 6-7 months old, 9-10 months old, 18 months old and 3 years old. In addition to height/weight measurements and examination by a doctor, you may consult health care professionals if you have any concerns.
The following information mentions various facilities and programs that can offer parenting consultation and support for you. You may also be eligible for financial support programs that help cover your child-related expenses.
Various support systems have been established to help answer your questions and reduce your anxiety about child-raising and also to protect the health of mothers and children.
Home-visit consultation for newborn babies
In principle, the local government sends public health nurses and certified midwives to a household with a newborn baby within twenty-eight days after birth to give advice and answer questions about baby care, prevention of illness, and the baby’s daily life. Contact the municipal office in the ward (or city, town or village) where you reside for more details.
Newborn screening test for metabolic birth defects
The test is provided to a five to seven-day-old baby by taking a blood sample from his/her heel. If test results show that the baby has a certain birth defect, early diagnosis and treatment can prevent developmental problems. The parents are notified of the result by a doctor of the medical institute where the baby was born.
Child guidance center/office (Jido Sodanjo)
The child guidance center/office provides consulting services for child-related issues. The center accepts inquiries from the child’s family members and other concerned persons over the phone or at the counter. The center’s counselors may visit the child’s home. The center also supports children with certain illnesses or disabilities and works to protect abused children.
If you suspect that something might be child abuse, the child guidance center/office provides a hotline that can be used nationwide. Calling the number connects you to the nearest child guidance office.
These websites provide useful information related to child-rearing.
Several types of childcare financial support are available for households with young children. Applications for these support programs are mostly made at the municipal office in the ward (or city, town or village) where the applicant resides. Application procedures may vary according to each local government, so contact the municipal office for details.
Child Allowance (Jido Teate) (National)
Jido teate or child allowance is available to households raising a child until the March 31 after the child has turned 15. There is an income limitation for eligibility.
Dependent Child Allowance (Jido Fuyo Teate) (National)
Jido fuyo teate is provided to households with a dependent child, which are headed by a single parent due to divorce, or have a father or mother who is deceased, absent to places unknown, or severely disabled. There is an income limitation for eligibility, and the allowance differs based on the amount of income.
Child-rearing allowance (Jido Ikusei Teate) (Tokyo)
Jido ikusei teate is provided to households raising a child, which are headed by a single parent due to death of the mother or father, divorce, or absence to places unknown, or where the father or mother is severely disabled. There is an income limitation for eligibility.
There are other forms of financial support for disabled children and persons raising disabled children.
Hoikusho (or hoikuen: nursery schools) and yochien (kindergartens) are commonly available in Japan for children under school age. Nintei kodomoen is a new type of facility for preschool age children and refers to those having both functions of hoikusho and yochien. Each facility has different conditions for enrollment age, school hours, and such, and it is therefore important that parents find the one that best fits their needs. There are additional childcare support services not covered by hoikusho or yochien.
Hoikusho or nursery school is a childcare facility for children whose both parents are not available during the daytime to take care of their children due to their work, sickness, or other reasons. Hoikusho admits infants and toddlers from age 0 to 6 before they start elementary school. Typically, the hoikusho takes children for eight hours per day from 7AM to 6PM. Some hoikusho are open for extended hours ("encho hoiku") and may keep children until 8PM or so. Hoikusho is a type of welfare facility structured according to the Child Welfare Law and is under the authority of the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare. Both public and private hoikusho are available. The private ones are categorized into ninka (certified) hoikusho and ninkagai (uncertified) hoikusho, depending on whether they are certified by a local municipal government or not. Tuition is determined according to the parents’ income for public and ninka hoikusho. At ninkagai hoikusho, on the other hand, tuition is individually set by the respective facilities and is applied to all enrolled children regardless of their parents’ income.
Yochien or kindergarten is an educational facility for preschool age children from age 3 to 6 before starting elementary school. At yochien, children gain basic life/study skills through play so as to be prepared for elementary and higher schools. In general, yochien provides approximately a four-hour daily program, but some yochien may keep children for longer hours in a similar manner to hoikusho. Yochien is a type of educational facility structured according to the School Education Law and is under the authority of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology.
Nintei kodomoen or authorized ECEC center is a childcare facility designed to perform functions of both yochien and hoikusho (hoikuen). The nintei kodomoen offers a comprehensive program that includes education provided at yochien and daycare service provided at hoikusho to children regardless of whether both of their parents work or not. It also offers consultations regarding childrearing and other childcare support services to families even when their child is not enrolled.
The following are additional facilities and support programs designed to cover childcare needs that are not available at nursery schools and kindergartens. Details of available facilities and services may vary according to each city, so contact the municipal office in the ward (or city, town or village) where you reside for more information.
Home-like Childcarers (hoiku mama)
The Home-like Childcarer Program is a daycare service provided by childcare givers accredited by the local government in their home. Eligible children must be younger than elementary school age and their parents unable to take care of them due to work obligations or other factors. Application procedures and fees may vary according to city.
Childcare for sick and convalescent children
This service is available for a sick or convalescent child unable to attend his/her regular group childcare facilities and whose parents are not able to care for the child at home due to work obligations or other factors. Required childcare and medical attention are provided to sick and convalescing children in a dedicated area attached to the childcare/medical facilities.
Short stay childcare
Short stay childcare is available at designated nursery schools for children up to 12 years whose parents cannot take care of them due to emergency situations such as sudden illness, childbirth, or tending to family members in hospital.
Temporary childcare/ Childcare on particular days or during particular hours (Tokutei hoiku)
Temporary childcare is available at designated nursery schools during daytime for children whose parents cannot cope with mental and physical burdens of childrearing. Also, there is childcare service available at designated nursery schools for children whose parents cannot take care of them on particular days or particular hours (Tokutei hoiku).
Mother-child living support facilities
Facilities for single-mother households raising children under 18 years of age, or women from such households who due to various reasons are unable to give adequate care to their children, to be made use of by mothers and children together. In relation to the various circumstances in which mothers and children are accepted, they may receive advice and support regarding family life, child raising, education, work, and other subjects in order to support their independence. If you wish to apply to use these facilities, please contact the welfare office in your area.