This paper illustrates a cultural-developmental approach to the study of child welfare. It describes in cultural context everyday socialization beliefs and practices through which Japanese child welfare workers attempt to support the well-being of maltreated children. Through repeated individual and focus group interviews, naturalistic observations, and an intervention, three interrelated concepts emerged: Ibasho (a place necessary to psychological well-being where one feels peace, security, acceptance and belonging), anshin-kan (a sense of security), and mimamori (the practice of watching over others carefully as a protective figure) as significant to adults in their practice with maltreated children. Adults emphasized the importance of children's feeling of anshin in creating their Ibasho within the institution. Adults' mimamori of children was commonly described by participants and documented during participant observation. Mimamori as an everyday socialization practice is fundamentally developmental and ecological. It creates a socially and emotionally supportive context which provides children with developmental opportunities including to find their Ibasho. Deep emotional commitment to children and accepting relationships were viewed as necessary to successful mimamori, and were prioritized over direct interventions to support children's well-being. Implications for U.S. child welfare research and practice are discussed including the opportunity to step outside of that which we take for granted to strengthen developmental and ecological considerations in child welfare within our own pluralistic society.
- Japanese child welfare