March 18 2011

Japanese Children's Village ready to help

23/03/2011 - The Children's Village Fukuoka is prepared to care for children from the disaster areas temporarily. In case children cannot return to their families, they can also be cared for in the long-term. SOS Children's Villages in neighbouring countries have also offered their support.

Beside the offer to admit children to the Children’s Village and care for them as long as their family situation has been clarified, Children’s Village Fukuoka will assist activities to receive children from the disaster areas in family-based care settings, which are prepared by the National Association of Foster Parents (in terms of financial resources, psychological care etc.). Children’s Village Fukuoka will further help to promote activities to increase the number of families which provide children with temporary care and foster families. In Fukuoka city, the number of children in foster care has increased in the recent years, but in Japan children in foster care or other family-based settings comprise only about ten percent of the children in alternative care; the majority still has to live in large residential institutions.

SOS Children’s Villages in China, South Korea, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam would be able to accommodate  families from Japan for approximately three months; single mothers with their children and big families would be the main target group. Children’s Village Fukuoka will consult on this with the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare.

Staff of the Ministry have been sent to the Children’s Centres in the disaster areas, and according to Mrs Junko Otani, executive director of Children's Village Fukuoka, they are starting to systematically assess the situation of affected children there.

18/03/2011 – The children's village in Fukuoka has offered to take in as many unaccompanied children as it can.

Photo: REUTERS/Yuriko Nakao
Estimates suggest some 100,000 may have been displaced by the disaster - Photo: REUTERS/Yuriko Nakao
In the aftermath of the series of disasters that hit the north-eastern shores of Japan, the children’s village Fukuoka - some 1,000 km south of Tokyo - has offered to take in as many unaccompanied children as its capacities allow. If necessary, SOS Children’s Villages will help the children’s village Fukuoka to adequately care for the children until either their families or a better solution have been found.

Request for help from state entity

The association “Children’s Village Fukuoka”, which works closely with SOS Children’s Villages, was approached by the Japanese Child Guidance Centres, a state body that ensures that children who have lost parental care receive the best alternative care solution available.

Many children feared separated from family
Although there is currently no way of establishing how many children have lost their families to the disaster, experts fear that the number may be very high due to the fact that most children were in school or kindergarten at the time of the earthquake and the tsunami that followed.  

Children need trauma therapy
The most urgently needed basic supplies are water, blankets, food and medical care. As the CEO of Children’s Village Fukuoka Junko Otani points out, however, one of the most pressing needs is to ensure that children who have been severely traumatised and distressed by what they have witnessed receive professional psychological care. Children who have been through such a traumatic experience need to express and process what they have seen as soon as possible to prevent long-term mental scarring.

Some 100,000 displaced children
Emergency relief efforts and assessments of the extent of damages have been extremely difficult due to the sheer size of the affected areas. First estimates put the number of people who have lost their homes at over half a million; 100,000 of them are children.