Nursery school/infrastructure development support for displaced mothers and children from Fukushima
Activity Period: Phase 1: July 1, 2012–March 31, 2013
Phase 2: April 1, 2013–March 31, 2014
Phase 3: April 1, 2014–March 31, 2015
Location: Yamagata City, Yamagata Prefecture
Aims: 1) To promote mothers’ employment, economic independence, and participation in society by opening a nursery school
2) To offer high-quality childcare service to displaced children
3) To relieve the stress felt by the displaced mothers who bear a large psychological burden
4) To allow mothers with children in nursery school to build relationships with other displaced individuals through counseling and link to sharing useful information and specific activities
Background/content 1400 displaced families in Yamagata City from Fukushima Prefecture
5,100 families—80% of those that fled Fukushima (62,038 people)—sought shelter in neighboring Yamagata Prefecture because of the nuclear accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant on March 11th last year. 1,400 of those families live in Yamagata City, the largest number of all municipalities in Japan. Over half of those are displaced mothers with preschool age children who voluntarily moved not from the evacuation zone or areas near the power plant, but areas such as Fukushima City and Koriyama City, called Nakadori. Children play and exercise outside for many hours, and because it is said that individuals of short stature, those closest to the ground, are more easily exposed to cesium, mothers with small children, pregnant women, and wives due to give birth in the near future who are worried about health dangers have left behind husbands and families to seek refuge in areas with low levels of radiation. It has already been over a year since their lives as evacuees began, and the prolonged separation has led to family rifts rooted in the economic burden* of dual households and childcare issues over preschool children. *Each family receives only a 60,000-yen subsidy for rent from the government.
Helping displaced mothers and children live healthy lives in Yamagata
“Authorized nursery schools” receive subsidies from the government and municipalities, allowing parents to place their children in childcare at a low cost in accordance with their income. However, Yamagata City has had a waiting list for nursery schools since before the disaster (as of late May, 97 children were on a waiting list), making it difficult for non-working mothers from Fukushima to enroll their children. On the other hand, “non-authorized nursery schools” are quite costly at approximately 50,000 yen per month for childcare and meals. Families with more than one young child find themselves unable to pay, given the increased expenses that accompany a dual household. Therefore, with no place to enroll their child, mothers remain unemployed and unable to become economically independent, and families find themselves financially strapped running two households. In addition, the burden of raising children falls squarely on the mothers who become exhausted taking care of their children. Though they have run away from health hazards, ironically, they suffer excessive stress. IVY is addressing these issues and has been active in offering childcare support for the displaced families from Fukushima, but endeavors thus far have succeeded only in temporary care. Mothers wishing to work full time need monthly childcare. They have joined IVY in creating a nursery school in Yamagata City.
- Click here for more information on IVY Nursery School.