The overwhelming majority of Japan’s 30,000 day care centers fail to address an urgent need for working parents: What happens when your child is sick?
Only 2 percent of the centers offer care for sick children and almost all of them are struggling to achieve profitability because demand is highly unpredictable. For parents, the solution often means calling in sick, making it difficult to juggle a career with raising children.
In 2005, ChildCare Co, a not-for-profit social enterprise, launched a unique childcare model for working parents in Tokyo. Instead of creating dedicated facilities, the service relied on a network of experienced babysitters to look after sick children.
Although the model was immediately popular, growing at a rate of 80 percent year-to-year, the enterprise was operating at a significant loss and faced increasing financial difficulties in its first two years of operation.