“Free Early Childhood Education and Care” program is in effect

2019-10-26 LIFE , OTHERS
Living in JAPAN JOBS
Living in JAPAN JOBS

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The “Free Early Childhood Education and Care” program became effective on Oct. 1st, 2019.

This program is a great news for these child-rearing generation as lowers the financial burden relating to child education and nursing. However, some say the system has incomprehensive conditions. We explain this program herein.

What is the “Free Early Childhood Education and Care”?

This is one of the measures in the “New Economic Policy Package” installed in 2017. The purpose of this program is to reduce the cost of education which is said to be a reason for the decreasing number of children in Japan and to promote a higher quality of the early childhood education and nursing.

The eligible children are kids in 3-5 years old classes, and 0-2 years old classes (only the households with exemptions from municipal residence tax). The government subsidizes fees for kindergartens, day care centers, centers for early childhood education and care, and childcare services at unlicensed nurseries. “Free” doesn’t necessarily mean all the fees are free of charge. Please be mindful that the support level differs depending upon conditions.

Also, it is advisable to consult with local government of your residency, since some local municipalities offer their own program of reducing charges, aside from this new national program.

Eligible / Ineligible Institutions

The followings are eligible with some conditions regarding the child age and the household environment.

  • Kindergarten
    This is the educational facility under the control of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology. It provides the educational foundation for the elementary school and thereafter. The infants from 3 years old to before entering elementary school attend.
  • Day care center
    This is the child welfare facilities under the control of the said Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare. They nurse infants of the parents who cannot take care of them because they have to work, or other causes. The infants from 0 years old to before entering elementary school attend.
  • Centers for early childhood education and care
    This is the facility certified by the prefectural governments. They are equipped with the functions and characteristics of both kindergartens and day care centers to support child-rearing in the area. The infants from 0 years old to before entering elementary school attend.
  • Municipal-level childcare services
    This has smaller class than day care centers. They charges are stipulated by each municipal Office. The infants from 0 years old to 2 years old attend.
  • Corporate childcare institutions
    This is childcare institution for the employees by the corporate. They accept also a limited number of children of nearby community.
  • Childcare services at unlicensed nurseries
    This is classified as a day care center by law but is not certified. This includes such facilities like childcare services at unlicensed nurseries (including those originally certified by local governments, general unlicensed childcare institutions, baby-sitters, unlicensed childcare facilities within workplace), temporary childcare services, childcare services for sick children, family support center services.

Unfortunately, these following facilities are not eligible for “Free Early Childhood Education and Care” program currently.

  • Quasi-kindergarten
    They provide similar services as a kindergarten but not unapproved.
  • Schools for foreigners and international schools
    These are not eligible because they are miscellaneous schools under the School Education Act.

Children attending kindergarten, day care centers and/or centers for early childhood education and care, municipal-level childcare services, or corporate childcare institutions

3-5 years old classes: Free-of-charge for all children

  • In principle, the eligible period will start from April 1 that comes after the child turns 3 and end once the child enters elementary school.
    However, for a kindergarten, the free service becomes available only after the child turns 3, when the admissions open.
  • Charges for transportation, meal and events are on the guardian.
    However, for children of household with income of less than ¥3,600,000 and from the third child onwards of any household, fees for non-staple foods shall be exempted (side dishes and snacks).
  • For kindergartens that are not under the new system of support for children and child-raising, up to ¥25,700 monthly.
    However, as kindergartens that are not under the new system of support for children and child-raising may need to complete procedures for licensing and reimbursement, please consult with local offices of your residence.
  • Some documents need to be presented to the facility when using corporate childcare institutions. Some amount will be reduced from the fees depending on the age of the child.

0-2 years old classes: Free for the households with exemptions from municipal residence tax.

  • When multiple children, Counting the oldest child attending day care centers as Child 1, Child 2 shall receive the services at half the price and Child 3 shall receive it for free. However, for households with an annual income of less than ¥3,600,000, the age of the first child is irrelevant
  • Some documents need to be presented to the facility when using corporate childcare institutions. Some amount will be reduced from the fees depending on the age of the child.

Children using extended childcare services at kindergarten

3-5 years old classes: Up to ¥11,300/month is exempted

  • In order to be eligible for this exemption, “Need for childcare” must be recognized through the kindergarten your child is attending.
  • In addition to allowing the use of kindergarten, up to ¥11,300/month is exempted depending on the number of days of use.

Children using unlicensed childcare institutions

3-5 years old classes: Up to ¥37,000/month is exempted
0-2 years old classes: Up to ¥42,000/month is exempted for a household with exemptions from municipal residence tax.

  • In order to be eligible for this exemption, “Need for childcare” must be recognized.
  • Only the children who are not enrolled in daycare center or center for early childhood education and care are eligible.

About “a fixed amount from the fees depending on the age of the child” from which reduction may apply at the corporate childcare institutions

The following amount is planned at this time.

  • 0 age: ¥37,100
  • 1-2 years old: ¥37,000
  • 3 years old: ¥26,600
  • Over 4 years old: ¥23,100

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