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Views of Panelists
Aiming to Improve the Quality of Child Care

Nobuko Uchida
Professor, Ochanomizu University, Developmental Psychology

Dr. Friedman presented a large amount of detailed research data based on the demographic factors in the United States. Through this data, it was suggested that the quality of family parenting is the basis for quality in child care. The results of this study attract attention because they suggest the importance of the mother-child relationship for infants. Now, as an increasing number of women work, the results indicate the importance of establishing a psychological bond between the parent and child rather than assuring families that there are no problems associated with placing children in child care.

I think that in the development of the children, the quality of the mutual relation is more important than the length of time of child care, and I presented the findings of two research projects at the symposium. First, I presented data indicating that emotional interaction with adults before children are placed in child care becomes the basis for interaction with the child care providers at centers. This creates attachment, which functions to set the stage for language communication and adaptability to others. Second, regarding the problem of the quality of child care, I showed that by comparing environments with different infant and children ratios, the quality of child care varies according to the frequency of the mutual interaction and that language development and communication in the early stages of development also varies according to this. This data suggests that 1) the attachment with the child care provider becomes the basis of communicative behavior; 2) it is not necessary for the child care provider to be the biological mother and 3) the social quality of interaction is important.

Dr. Matsumoto presented valuable data on the behavioral pattern of children who were cared for the child care centers and at home and examined at the ages of seven months and three years. Based on this data, he indicated the importance of the quality of child care in parenting by the mother and child care provided at day care centers. Professor Imai's meaningful proposition made us think about the quality of child care at the child care centers by presenting the importance of reciprocal education where children play with children of various ages and by presenting detailed data that a system of having 2 child care providers for 6 children is beneficial.

Based on the proposals of the symposium and as a suggestion regarding child care in the 21st century, I think we urgently need to restore teamwork between parents and child care providers as well as child care functions of the community and Japanese society by revitalizing child care functions at home. In other words, we have to restore the rights of parents. In order for us to establish the idea that society as a whole should raise children who will be responsible for the culture of the future, it is necessary to create an atmosphere in which parents and child care providers can work together. To do this, we need to gather our wisdom and provide social support for child care from different perspectives.

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