In 2013, the Government of Japan announced the Accelerate the Zero Childcare Waiting List Project. Since then, efforts have been made to expand the capacity of existing childcare centers and establish new ones. Nevertheless, the growing number of households with children that require childcare, driven by the rise in households where both parents work and changing family dynamics, has resulted in extended childcare hours and rising workload placed on childcare workers at childcare centers. This has made maintaining and improving the quality of childcare an issue.
According to the Survey Report on Securing Childcare Workers conducted as part of the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare’s Child and Childcare Support Promotion Survey and Research Program for fiscal 2016, more than two-thirds of childcare facilities in Japan would like to reduce the record keeping and reporting workload of their childcare workers. Attendance management, report preparation and childcare plan preparation work were cited as the top three areas in which childcare facilities believed ICT could be used to reduce this workload. However, only one in three childcare facilities had actually introduced ICT for these purposes.
With an eye on solving this social issue, NTT West developed an attendance management system using ICT that allows childcare workers to reduce their workload and focus on childcare and education.
Parents or guardians are issued an IC card that they hold over a touch panel whenever their child arrives or leaves the facility. The system then automatically records and keeps information about attendance, which makes it possible to automatically create official ledgers to be submitted to municipalities and simplifies the preparation and management of instruction plans and childcare logs. In turn, administrative work is reduced and data entry mistakes from handwriting are eliminated. Communications from parents or guardians about attendance can be handled online, reducing the need to answer phones during the busy morning hours, and remote maintenance support can be provided over the network.
After examining the actual situation at childcare centers during system development, we found that many childcare centers were preparing and keeping not only attendance but also childcare plans and records all by hand. We turned our attention to the increasing workload resulting from the need to record accurate arrival and departure times following the launch of the new Comprehensive Support System for Children and Child-rearing in fiscal 2015. We asked mothers and former childcare workers to take part in the planning and development, which made it possible to put raw feedback directly into the system.
After launching this system in June 2015, we found that childcare centers with around 100 children were able to reduce the time spent on administrative work from 1,560 minutes (26 hours) every month to just 20, greatly streamlining their work. The number of childcare centers using this system continues to increase as word has spread about the benefits of ICT.
Going forward, we will provide functions that further streamline work at childcare centers while listening to feedback from customers, and thus, continue to help create an environment for the healthy growth of children by creating time and easing the stress placed on childcare workers.