Tokyo, March 4 (Jiji Press)–The Japanese government on Friday adopted a bill that proposes examinations by judges be part of procedures to temporarily separate abused children from their parents for protection.
According to the bill to revise the Child Welfare Act, judges will examine requests for approval to protect children filed by child consultation centers within seven days of the start of protection. Requests can be filed in advance, it said.
An examination by a judge would be skipped if there is parental consent. If requests are turned down, protection would have to be terminated.
The involvement of judges is aimed at securing transparency in protection procedures and preventing problems between child consultation centers and parents.
To defend children’ rights, the bill requires child consultation centers to listen to children’s opinions when they provide protection or place children in facilities for protection.
The bill calls for the creation of a new qualification to improve child welfare workers’ skills, since half of such workers have only limited experience, with less than three years in the job.
As part of efforts to improve support systems for expectant and new mothers as well as for child-rearing households, the bill requires municipalities to make efforts to set up centers to provide advice for such mothers and households. It also seeks to promote the implementation of assistance projects, such as one to encourage families showing signs of abuse to use housekeeping services.
In addition, on independence support for young people who live at facilities such as children’s homes, the bill proposes scrapping the upper age limit for those eligible to receive such assistance, currently set at 22.
The bill also seeks stricter management of qualifications of nursery teachers who have molested children.