After the Great East Japan Earthquake, there has been an increase in raising children in foster homes in order to support children who cannot live with their parents in the community. 11 years on, how has home care changed? I talked to the people involved. (Life and Culture Division Ikuko Echinakaya)
In Satoyama, Izumi-ku, Sendai City, there is a family house (FH) “Toritree” run by adoptive parents Shiro Kikuchi and Yukiko (51 years old). A total of eight people live in a one-story building converted from an old residential building, including one child in the second grade of junior high school and five foster children from kindergarten to the sixth grade of primary school.
Shiro said: “Every day is lively, more like a partner who spends time happily than a family. We want to be the most reliable adults for our children.”
The Kikuchis registered as foster parents in 2016 and moved to FH in ’20 after giving birth to a child in the kindergarten where their children were unable to live with the family. “It doesn’t matter if you’re in a relationship with your parents or not, whether you give yourself a last name. Every child is different. With FH, adoptive parents are the most important thing while taking full advantage of the benefits of family. Children you can Think flexibly about what role you should play for yourself,” Shiro said.
FH is a system introduced by the government in 2009, where three or more experienced adoptive parents and assistants raise five or six children who cannot live with their parents due to their parents’ illness, poverty, abuse, etc. It is said that real parents are between orphanages and foster families, worried that their children will be taken away by foster parents, and the threshold for foster care is very low. Miyagi Prefecture increased from 2 before the earthquake to 10 (including 4 in Sendai City). Will continue to prepare to open one more place.
In 2014, in Taibai District, Sendai City, the “Children’s Village Tohoku” opened for family care and support for adoptive parents, and has accommodated about 120 children including temporary protection.
“Demands are diverse,” said Kazuo Iinuma, head of NPO’s Tohoku Children’s Village. Not only the children who were directly affected by the disaster, even if they were not directly affected, their parents suffered from mental illness and their families were also hit, and the impact of the earthquake still lingers.
In the future, there are concerns about the impact of the novel coronavirus. Reika Kawamura, a clinical psychologist, said: “There will be more and more people facing difficulties in life. Just like an earthquake, we must support parents for a long time and take care of their children’s growth.” To prevent abuse, the company plans to strengthen training for parents and consulting services.
Taking the welfare administration report of the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare as an example, the change of registered adoptive parents in Miyagi Prefecture is shown in the figure. Compared with 2010 before the earthquake, the number of adoptive parents increased 1.6 times to 159 households in 2011 and 2.7 times to 257 households in 2008. The number of relatives and adoptive parents increased fivefold in 2011 to 45 households after registration by grandparents raising children who lost their guardians in the earthquake, but the number is decreasing as children become independent.
The state attaches great importance to family care. By 2012, the adoption rate of foster parents for children under 3 years old (including FH) reached 75.0%, and by 2014, 75.0% of preschool children over 3 years old (ibid.). , Primary school students and above have set a target of 50.0% by fiscal year 2017.
In Miyagi Prefecture, the number of children in need of social care after the earthquake increased from 495 in 2010 to about 600 in 2011 and 2012, but has been on a downward trend since then. The number of children in need of protection in 2008 was 490 (including 245 in Sendai City), and the placement rate of adoptive parents for all age groups was 42.6% in the prefecture and 38.4% in Sendai City.
In the prefecture, the target for fiscal 2017 is set at 61.3%, and in Sendai City at 49.4%, but sometimes adoptive parents and adopted children cannot establish a good relationship and it is difficult to raise them. Mr. Kikuchi complained, “Not only the children but also the adoptive parents are deeply hurt, and some have cancelled their registration. I hope Sendai City, which entrusted the child, establishes an agency to follow the adoptive parents.”
The Miyagi Prefectural Foster Parent Support Center Keyaki Prefecture was established in 2017 and is responsible for the new development of foster parents, training and counseling before and after foster care, and exchange programs between foster parents. “A combination of abuse, poor living conditions, disability and other factors compound the challenges faced by protected children. Not just increasing the number of adoptive parents, but also the quality of parenting.”
Although the birth rate in Miyagi Prefecture is declining, the number of children in need of protection is expected to remain around 500 in the future. “It is important not only to entrust foster parents, but also to prepare various dishes including orphanages, and think about the best way for children to grow up,” said Mr.
[寄养父母]According to the Child Welfare Act, children who cannot live with their parents and need social care are, in principle, raised at home until the age of 18. In addition to adoptive parents, there are four types of adoptive parents: adoptive parents who specialize in raising children with special needs such as disabled children, adoptive parents of relatives within the third degree of relatives, and adoptive parents who wish to adopt children. .You can register as an adoptive parent if you apply through the Child Guidance Center and receive the required training, and then be considered by the Social Welfare Board and become a Governor or Mayor by government decree.