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Early childhood development (ECD) programs as protective environments for children in emergencies: A case of daycare centers in Iwate, Japan during the 2011 earthquake and tsunami disaster

Kondo, Chiharu (2015) Early childhood development (ECD) programs as protective environments for children in emergencies: A case of daycare centers in Iwate, Japan during the 2011 earthquake and tsunami disaster. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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The 2011 East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami suddenly took the homes, family members, friends, and familiar neighborhoods away from the children of Iwate. In the midst of this difficult situation, early childhood development (ECD) programs provided protective environments for the young children to access continuous care and development opportunities. This case study examines how these daycare centers in Iwate prepared for, responded to, and coped with the severe natural disaster, providing physical, cognitive, and psychosocial protections to these children.

The study re-affirmed that daycare centers in Iwate had integrated the national standards for disaster risk reduction (DRR). On the day of the disaster, personnel safely evacuated the children while practicing monthly drills. Despite the challenges, the daycare programs quickly re-established normalcy in children’s lives, ensuring continuous access to care. Not only did daycare personnel act in loco parentis for these children, but also re-installed daycare programs during the recovery.

The study revealed that local governments also faced serious challenges in their leadership and coordination roles. Their response capacities had been severely affected by the disaster. Governments’ appropriate and timely guidance was most beneficial for the daycare providers. Among other recommendations, I assert that in the future, local governments could take more active roles in coordinating the massive influx of humanitarian organizations.

This interpretivist research was based on my one-year fieldwork in Iwate immediately after the disaster, and employed a series of survey instruments (questionnaires and interviews). This case study contributes to the field of education and ECD in emergencies through the use of qualitative, ethnographic research. It also recognizes significant and complimentary contribution of qualitative inquiry methods, including on-site fieldwork, ethnographic analyses, and follow-up interviews, for better understanding of crisis situations.

While pre-school programs are not compulsory in Japan, the study calls attention to the valuable protection that they provide for both young children and their childhoods in emergencies. A recovery strategy that focuses on protective environments for children has great potential as a harmonizing approach, rather than as a parallel one, in the complex nature of humanitarian assistance.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Kondo, Chiharuchk61@pitt.eduCHK610000-0001-6457-6648
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairMcClure, Maureen W.mmcclure@pitt.eduMMCCLURE
Committee MemberWeidman II, John C.weidman@pitt.eduWEIDMAN
Committee MemberPorter, Maureen K.mporter@pitt.eduMPORTER
Committee MemberAguilar,
Date: 28 January 2015
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 1 April 2014
Approval Date: 28 January 2015
Submission Date: 25 November 2014
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 271
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: School of Education > Administrative and Policy Studies
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: education in emergencies; early childhood development (ECD); disaster risk reduction (DRR); child protection; protective environments for children; mixed method case study.
Date Deposited: 28 Jan 2015 21:39
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 14:25


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