City-District-Country’s Direction for an Integrated Network of Infant & Childcare Support*

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  • ABSTRACT

    The child-caring parents’s demand for service should be met with a variety of comprehensive service that take the characteristics of a set of developmental stages of infants and children. In designing a service system to meet these desires, an integrated network for the support of child care is in order for a more comprehensive service. However, the service for childcare support is scattered through various forms including the services of Childcare Information Center initiated by Childcare Act, the Childcare Service by Healthy Family Act, and Seoul city’s unique model of Children’s Plaza. So, the current research discusses the status quo, the system and the direction of child care support service network. We aim to propose a base model on which we would eventually be able to establish an integrated delivery system of child care support service in the near future. According to the study, a childcare support center (a tentative name) can be suggested as a central facility for city, district and country’s childcare support network. The center can activate its function through the interactive network with crisis intervention service, child welfare service, health and social service, and the public system. It will also provide services such as connecting and mediating public and private systems, linking and integrating with service facilities, providing consultations on service facilities, outreaching, and providing case management and direct services.


    현재 육아서비스 대상자들이 지니고 있는 서비스 이용에 대한 요구는 영유아의 발달단계별 특성에 따라 달라지고 다양하고 복합적인 서비스가 제공되어야한다. 그러나 현재는 육아지원에 관한 서비스가 영유아보육법에 따른 보육정보센터에서의 서비스와 건강가정기본법에 의한 아이돌보미서비스, 또한 서울시의 독자적 모델이 영유아프라자 등 여러 가지 형태로 산재되어 있다. 따라서 본 연구에서는 육아지원 네트워크 현황, 육아지원 네트워크의 구축체계, 육아지원 네트워크의 방향에 관하여 살펴보고, 이를 통해 향후 통합적인 육아지원서비스 전달체계 구축의 기초자료를 제시하고자 하였다. 이를 위한 연구문제는 현재 육아지원의 현황과 외국의 육아지원체계를 살펴보는 것이다. 둘째, 시군구 육아지원 네트워크의 체계를 구축하기 위해서 육아지원체계의 접근방법과 구조, 육아지원 네트워크 모형을 보호를 필요로 하는 영유아와 일반영유아로 나누어 기본설계를 하고, 통합모형을 제시하고자 한다. 셋째, 이에 따라 시군구의 육아지원 네트워크의 방향을 수립하는 것이다. 본 연구의 결과에 따르면 시군구의 육아지원네트워크를 위한 구심적인 역할을 할 수 있는 센터로서는 육아지원센터(가칭)를 들 수 있을 것이다. 육아지원센터는 위기개입서비스와 아동복지서비스, 보건사회서비스, 공적 체계와의 상호 네트워크를 통해 그 기능을 활성화 할 수 있으며, 공적 체계와 민간 체계간의 연계 및 조정, 서비스 기관과의 연계와 통합, 서비스 기관에 대한 컨설팅, 아웃리치, 사례관리와 직접서비스 제공 등의 역할이 기능할 것이다. 그리고 이 기관이 효율적인 기능을 다하기 위해서는 기존의 개별 서비스별 기관들을 네트워크해 주는 교육․상담 지원 관리팀의 역할이 1차적으로 지원되어 그 과정을 통해서 지역의 개별 기관들이 가지고 있는 정보와 자원들을 공유할 수 있는 과정이 필요하다.

  • KEYWORD

    Integrated Network , Infant & Child , Care Support

  • Ⅰ. Introduction

       1. The Need and the Goal of the Research

    The current trends of low birth rate and an aging society coupled with Pyongteak City’s campaign for the hub of globalization have resulted in the growth of incoming population and the growing need for child care and social welfare. In particular, low birth rate has brought much attention to the importance of childbirth and child rearing from the perspectives of society and nation. Localization, on the other hand, has led people to be interested in social welfare as a part of their rights as citizens, which contributed to the transition of limited and selective service to universal and comprehensive service.

    The ever changing society requires that the level and focus of welfare service move up from the minimal right to live to improvement of the quality of life. In sum, the rapidly changing society has brought an increasing demand for welfare. Moreover, people’s diversifying and personalized desires for welfare are calling for a comprehensive system of integrated child care service.

    The child-caring parents’s demand for service should be met with a variety of comprehensive service that take the characteristics of a set of developmental stages of infants and children. In designing a service system to meet these desires, an integrated network for the support of child care is in order for a more comprehensive service.

    The citizens’ needs have expanded from the households of the poor or low income to ordinary people’s child rearing and child care. Their needs now also include children’s various activities, health-related and medical support. An integrated network of service is thus essential for an effective delivery of service. A desirable child care service should be defined as one that offers personalized and careful service. To that purpose, a professional and effective support network must be established.

    In particular, service to support development of infants and children, since it involves broad and comprehensive aspects, should come with the intervention of a variety of care-providing agents. High-risk groups have a variety of desires since they carry many risky qualities at the same time(Quint & Egeland, 1995; Dryfoos, 1990). Small(1990) exhibits that even a great form of intervention would not work, unless each risky element they face is dealt with respectively.

    However, such a comprehensive approach is in danger of being fragmented and segmented, since the system consists of varying financial sources, regulation systems, and strategies. Thus, it is very important to control and integrate the different constituents of a system in a consistent way so that they may strengthen and complement one another(Petersen, Richmond & Leffert, 1993; lee, Teasu, et al., 2008).

    We have not paid much attention to children and child care in the field of social welfare that it has not been easy to take a immediate and comprehensive approach to their problems including maladjustment to childcare and daycare facilities and schools, violence at school, child abuse, emotional instability, retarded development, parents’ divorce and family break-ups.

    However, things has gotten better recently and a supporting infrastructure for child welfare and child care has been being established. And the set of promising phenomena might include the following: accreditation of service, establishment of childcare supporting centers and community childcare information centers, increasing number of child protection facilities, We Start and Hope Start campaigns and designation of communities for educational welfare.

    Now it is clear that professional personnel in both public and private sectors already work in a community; teachers in educational and welfare institutions, professionals in child and infant development, medical professionals, psychological therapy professionals, professional educators, counseling professionals and experts in welfare. Thus, it is essential that an intimate and effective network for children be established in order to help one another. Such a network system has already become a working principle in advanced countries such as U. S. A, Japan and Great Britain.

    The importance of the value of social investment policies has been emphasized in light of recognizing management of national government and local communities to enhance the productive use of budget and sum of social capital. And this is closely related with the current trends of polarized structure of inequality, public administration based on local autonomy, transition into civil society, and transformation into the governance-oriented national government in information-based society. Policy makers and professionals have discussed social policies in terms of ’social investment’ since 2006 and, as a consequence, recognized the value of ‘family and children’ as an important part of human capital in the context of social investment.

    However, the importance of the value of investment on these basic portions of human capital, family and children, has not been emphasized yet. Jung(2007) points out that even the Seromaji Plan, which is targeted to solve the social problems of low birth and aging society, does not come with much recognition of the value of family and child bearing. We would like to emphasize again that we must value stable and healthy family life as the source of the development of the nation and the production of human capital before we set out to solve the problem of low birth rate and rear children in a fruitful way. We must also prepare comprehensive and preventive long-term policies that approach society, family and childcare in an integrated perspective in order to materialize various policies of social investment.

    Now Korea has come to the point where social welfare service should be restructured in a way it is carried out through an integrated system. Likewise, we are required to prepare an integrated system of delivery for childcare support service. It is compelling to believe that the success of social welfare service depends on how we utilize and organize available resources. In particular, the cooperation system between private and public sectors is at the core of the service delivery and has been actively discussed in many channels and levels.

    It is obvious that a uniform childcare support service led by government can neither meet the different needs nor solve the varying problems of family and childcare of different local communities. Thus, an organic and intimate network comprising local organizations is essential to take unique characteristics into account and let the service system work consistently and powerfully. We must also assign proper roles to organizations in an optimal way to enable the whole network to provide appropriate resources and service to the needy families as effectively as we can by developing limited human, material and socio-cultural capital, considering the diversity of the needs of local families, and coordinating human and material resources(Doh, M. 2007). In this respect, it is crucial to discuss an integrated system of providing childcare service.

    The current research discusses the status quo, the system and the direction of childcare support service network. We aim to propose a base model on which we would eventually be able to establish an integrated delivery system of childcare support service in the near future.

       2. The Research Question

    The research question at hand is to examine the current situation of childcare support and to compare it with the childcare support system of other countries.

    Second, in order to establishthe childcare support network system for city, district and country, the accessibility and the structure of childcare support system and the resulting model of childcare support network will be designed according to the split categories of the infant and children in need of protection and others. From this, a new integrated model will be suggested.

    Third, the direction for childcare support network fit for city, district, and country should be provided.

       3. Research Methodology

    The research was done through literature review methodology which is done by reviewing existing documents and literature. The data was searched and collected through the studies onchildcare support published in the online database of National Assembly Library by December 2010. Relevant literature including those on childcare support, network, and integrated support was searched through the literature titles. Furthermore, in order to examine the current situation of childcare support, public and private services provided by childcare service facilities in the cities, districts and the country including Childcare Information Centers, the nursing care services of Healthy Family Support Centers, We Start and Heemang Start Programs, Child Protection Agencies, Community Chest, Health Centers, and child welfare institutions (nursery schools, childcare facilities, community child centers, and child guidance centers) were probed.

    Third, in order to build the childcare support network model, public child welfare institutions’integrated network model was first established through existing literature and then, through the child and childcare professional group’s face validity derived from content analysis and delta analysis, the conceptual map of the childcare support center and the integrated model of childcare support were created.

    The range of the childcare support network in this study was mostly examined in the relative range of the facilities providing supports for infant and child welfare. Also, aside from those in preschools and nurseries, infants and children who are at home or who are in dangerous situation and thus, in need of protection, and the children in lower grades in primary schools who fall into the category of afterschool children were included in the network sought out in study.

    Ⅱ. The current state of childcare support network

       1. The current state and some considerations

    The necessity for an effective network system of available resources has been recently recognized and materialized in the field of social welfare including child welfare. To name a few networks in operation now in both public and private sectors, We Start, Hope Start, the network of local child centers, the network of child protection facilities and the network of fund-raising support organizations.

    The program called ‘We Start’, which began in May, 2004 and the institutionalized Hope Start program based on ‘We Start’ both aim to provide families and children with customized service to deal with their needs and problems. These programs also seek to manage individual cases and integrate a set of previously segregated areas including public health, welfare, childcare and education and eventually support ‘two-generation’ programs that intervene both parents and children generations.

    A couple of questions now arise as to (i) how the We Start program operated in private sector can be differentiated from the public sector’s Hope Start and how it can secure a necessary budge, and (ii) how the two programs can be upgraded from providing service for individual families to arousing overall participation from the whole community.

    The number of local child centers has increased across the nation, but the quality level of service varies among the centers. This is perhaps why an integrated network of a certain region does not really work well despite its growing necessity. Some networks still remain at an elementary stage, since the organizations vary from one another in their capacity and interests.

    Child protection organizations refer to the system that are operated by the reports of child abuse and neglected children. As it is not a regularized network program, supporting organizations are decided on the basis of the characteristics of cases and the situations of families. The management of empirical cases calls for the establishment of a systemized network, but the problem lies in the absence of an integrated comprehensive network in the community. We should also mention that the number of providers for this particular service is well below the expected.

    The children-related local networks supported by the association of social welfare funds include Nowon Hope Network, Pusan Telephone Network and Kangseo Network of School Management. These networks are also at an starting stage and are not really actively working yet. The remaining problems might include a loose form of networking, confusion among participating member organization as to their roles, independent businesses by member institutions, lack of communication, and absence of performance standards.

    Childcare facilities now run programs like care-giving support, alternative teachers, and dispatching teachers to homes. However, network-using programs at the facilities are not really satisfactorily operated: medical treatment, temporary care, counseling, and support for development, to name a few. In other words, the existing activities in these facilities are carried out by the employees who need their necessity and possess passion for the efforts. As a consequence, these activities do not go beyond individual facilities to make it possible to develop an organized and sustainable network.

    Then, why do these organizations not succeed in establishing an interwoven network for more effective service to children? It can be attributable to the reasons summarized below.

       2. Systems of childcare support in foreign countries

    Let us now turn to family support centers and local childcare support centers in Japan.

    1) Family support centers

    For example, a family support center in Japan is a kind of membership organization that consists of both those who need child rearing and care service and those who can provide child rearing and care. This service program aims to help people balance their work with childcare. The program includes such services as commuting to and from the facility, taking care of children before and after the operation, caring after school and during vacation periods and caring when the parents are sick or on errands.

    The centers are established on the basis of the New Angle Plan and have been expanding to 368 locations across the nation. According to the Sojawha Plan in 2004, it is expected that the number will increase up to 710 in the next five years.

    2) Local childcare support centers

    Local childcare support centers are responsible for establishing a base on which the whole local community can support childcare in an overall perspective. A certain number of full-time workers are assigned to perform planning, coordination and implementation activities for the supporting service. Their main programs cover all aspects of childcare; counseling and guidance for anxiety over childcare, guidance and support of childcare clubs, babysitting, and providing relevant information. Some specially designed childcare programs are also planned, distributed, and implemented. The campaign launched in 1993 and has 2,783 centers under the belt. The total number is expected to increase upto 4.400 in the next five years.

    Ⅲ. How to establish a network of childcare support

       1. The basic approach and structure

    The cardinal and eventual purpose of ensuring an effective childcare support system is to enhance the publicness of childcare and the quality of childcare service. To that purpose, we need to establish a network of administration systems including national and local governments, service-providing systems including childcare facilities and personnel and customers such as children, families and local communities. A hub center networking these systems is in need and we propose an organization tentatively named “Childcare Support Network Center.”

    We propose a model in which the Network Center intimately networks a variety of organizations and facilities such as childcare facilities, daycare centers, elementary schools, infirmaries, medical institutions, child abuse protection centers, welfare facilities, academic professionals, local congressmen, counseling centers, voluntary workers, nongovernmental organizations and women’s organizations. Local residents and consumers participate in this network as participants and ombudsmen.

    The childcare information center, using the network, mediates and coordinates local administration systems and service-providing organizations in the field to optimize comprehensive childcare programs. Participation by local residents can be carried out in the form of their visiting individual facilities, their attending local group activities and a facility’s opening doors to the public. Ombudsmen can also be organized for a local network.

       2. Base of Childcare Support Network

    The complete network can consist of a model for children calling for protection and care and another for ordinary children.

    1) Network for children calling for protection and care

    Figure 1 exemplifies a network for the children who are in need of protection and/or care. As presented below, local city can base the role of the public childcare center on its existing service delivery system and cases requiring protection service can be relocated to professional counseling organizations, which, in turn, may communicate with infirmaries if necessary. We also claim that it is essential that a system protecting children’s rights be implemented to protect them from child abuse, violence at school, and sexual harrassment.

    2) Network for normal children

    A local network can identify the needs of ordinary children and provide an integrated service for them. The mutual interaction and communication between service providers and the information center through the network can support the systemization of service supply and protection of their rights. A variety of agents including private and nongovernmental organizations participate in the network to vitalize the network.

    In using service in a particular region, primary service of information and counseling is provided by the general information/counseling system and secondary service comes with visitations. The network system ensures that the subsequent professional service can be supported by relevant professional counseling institutions.

    Childcare information center, which has been operated to increase birth rate and provide protection and care of infants and preschoolers, can supplement the support network under discussion in an effective way.

       3. Basic design of the Support Network

    We do not propose establishment of a new independent institution. Rather, our proposal aims to support participation of existing organizations. Thus, with some full-time personnel and budget, we can operate the proposed network. The childcare support center must operate thoroughly on the needs of the filed with the help of professional service. It is true that the service and the structure/function of the teams depend on the conditions and needs of the local communities and the participating member organizations. The Center is expected to perform the roles that the individual member institutions can not play.

    Thus, it should be more preferable for the budget to be assigned via the Center than allocated to the organizations directly. In order for a hub center like this to be materialized, we should take into consideration a set of requirements including rules for governmental aids and legislation of relevant laws.

    With the childcare network center at center position, clients can access to service via one of the following three channels, as illustrated in Figure 1.

    The first channel refers to the way in which children clients with unsolved problems and needs can access the network center via local child welfare-related organizations and/or other public organizations like local residents support centers and schools. In this case, a local member institution can play the role of a primary agent accepting applications and providing primary service.

    Or, using the second channel, clients can directly access the network center. This channel assumes that some children live in an area where service can not be provided enough so that the network can initiate the process of looking for the children in need.Another kind of channel might involve pure private organizations such as women’s society of an apartment community and a rural town. Children, in this case, communicate with the network center via this local channel in their neighborhood. The network center, then, takes secondary applications-primary applications if clients are discovered directly-, manage empirical cases, network relevant organizations, support primary service providers and provide professional service.

       4. Model for integrated network of childcare support

    Following the line of thoughts mentioned above, we present a model for an integrated network of childcare support. The local government is vertically dominated by the national government and is closely connected with the local childcare network. Local residents are real customers of the policies and at the same time they can participate in the network via active participation in a variety of programs and ombudsmen.

    At the core of the childcare support network is a system of coordination beyond simple cooperation. In the long run, it is essential to have a dynamic relationship with the local association of social welfare facilities. It is also necessary to strengthen and maintain a relationship with childcare-related organizations. With the help of the childcare information center, we need to coordinate the roles of administrative systems and service-providing systems, with the leading role given to the support center. Considering the fact that communities have various forms of organizations, it is desirable to strengthen the network with the childcare information center.

    In sum, a variety of related agents of childcare must be included within the circle of the network; infant care facilities, preschooler care facilities, after-school facilities, and organizations for the disabled and multicultured children. Taking children and families with children as customers of the service, we must ensure that the network involves various programs for service.

    Ⅳ. Direction for Childcare Support Network

    As pointed out above, we now do not have a well-operated network of childcare-related facilities and organizations. The recent report by the city(2009) recognizes the necessity of a more organized network and the respondents of the survey reveal that the network is under necessity for sharing information and resources and avoiding overlapped service. Excluding social welfare facilities, we can include schools, infirmaries and police stations into child-related institutions. Various groups of children, in turn, can be classified as children in crisis, children in potential crisis, normal children and/or all children. The childcare support network, then, should meet various needs of various groups of children and various institutions. The support center should also appeal to the needs of child-rearing parents, giving ample information and expanding chances for counseling for them. Especially, it is not easy for working mothers to gain information for childcare, since they do not have enough time and have only limited opportunities to meet their neighbor and/or the parents of their children’s peers.

    Thus, the proposed network must ensure that the working mothers can access the system easily for necessary information and counseling service. Seo(2008) points out that a professional organization dealing with this particular service should be expanded. We can include such programs as Seoul’s Childcare Plaza and Ministry of Women and Family’s Childcare Lounge in the proposed network. In other words, we have to be able to secure an offline space where parents can counsel with professionals, play with children, share information with other parents to discuss and hopefully solve their problems. Thus, it is desirable to implement the policy of one support center in one city. This local support center can help children and parents whether they have a job or not.

    Before we establish a comprehensive network, we need to set up a set of service networks depending on the children’s needs. First, children in crisis including abused and neglected children as well as those living in shelters could be taken care of by the intervention of such organizations as Good Neighbors, temporary infant care centers and child protection centers.

    Children under potential crisis refer to those who are struggling with hunger and ignorance and are dropped out of school and they can be provided service through temporary care for 24 hours, local child centers, foster home support centers and/or care-giving program. Ordinary children using childcare facilities and educational institutions can use the service provided by such social service organizations as general welfare centers, childcare information centers and family support offices. The network can be diagrammed as in Figure 3, depending on the customers’ needs. The proposed comprehensive integrated network can be based on the Childcare Support Center, which is under development according to the Comprehensive Social Welfare Plan that began in 2004.

    In particular, the current network center can provide the following services with the focus on children under potential crisis.

    The childcare providing organizations in local city can be classified as illustrated in Figure 4. In sum, flexible role of the support center congruent with the needs and situation of the community is called for to benefit from the proposed model for the network center.

    The network can be provide the following considerations for the implementation of Childcare support network. The central roles of the network under discussion can be played by the two institutions: Childcare Support Center(tentative) and Childcare Information Center. In order to network existing service providing organizations instead of establishing a new organization, we must support the roles of education, counseling and management teams and help them share the information and resources of those existing organizations. The step of making smooth progress of this process requires that the Childcare Support Center be equipped with quality information on the local situation. Another thing is required for this model to work well. Full-time workforce dealing with this network alone must take the project of getting the network in the groove. And this, of course, calls for appropriate financial budget.

    Also the network center should classify and categorize the service contents provided by the constituent organizations, and share the roles of managing the cases.

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  • [Figure 1] below presents a model for the network center targeted for professional and integrated service
    below presents a model for the network center targeted for professional and integrated service
  • [FIgure 2] Model for Integrated Childcare Support System
    Model for Integrated Childcare Support System
  • [Figure 3] Network model depending on their needs
    Network model depending on their needs
  • [Figure 4] Childcare Support Network’s segmentation of service
    Childcare Support Network’s segmentation of service