President also appeared on TV program…Whistleblower alleges staffing violations & improper payments at a support service company for disabled children.
After-school day care services, a welfare service for children with disabilities or developmental characteristics who are between the ages of 6 and 18, are available after school and during long vacations such as summer vacation, and are called “school children with disabilities. However, the “after-school day service” center where I worked was understaffed, and the absence of a manager was the norm. The staff was so busy that they could not pay attention to the children, and abuse of children by certain staff members was a common practice. I may have been just as guilty for keeping my mouth shut until now, but I could no longer turn a blind eye. I decided to file a complaint.
Kodomo Plus Holdings, Inc. franchises after-school daycare services at nearly 200 locations nationwide. Ms. A, who worked at one of the company’s directly operated facilities, confided her painful feelings to the reporter.
Taxes are the source of benefit payments.
The main business of Kodomo Plus Holdings is to provide physical therapy and education for children and support for people with disabilities. The company was founded by Hiroki Yanagisawa, a brain scientist and author of numerous books. He is a “celebrity in the industry” who has appeared on “Beat Takeshi’s TV Tackle” (TV Asahi). Yanagisawa’s father, Akitaka, is a professor emeritus at Matsumoto Junior College and an expert in infant kinesiology. He is the founder of the “Yanagisawa Exercise Program,” which nurtures the mind and body through athletic play.
Franchisees can use the “Yanagisawa Exercise Program,” as well as receive guidance on the procedures necessary to set up an “after-school day care service” business and support for operations. As a result, in less than 10 years since its launch, the number of franchisees has expanded nationwide – but the aforementioned Mr. A said, “The positive image in the public and the internal situation are quite different. In addition to staff shortages, there are also allegations that they are receiving illegal benefits for day care for handicapped children (hereinafter referred to as “benefit payments”),” said the aforementioned Ms. A. “The monthly benefit payments are applied for by each local government. Benefit payments are made by submitting a monthly application to the local government. The source of funds is, of course, taxpayers’ money.
“As far as I know, directly operated facilities under the umbrella of Kodomo Plus Holdings in Hachioji City, Tokyo, and Tsukuba City, Ibaraki Prefecture, are suspected of receiving benefit payments illegally. After-school daycare services” can only receive benefit payments if they are qualified as “daycare support facilities for children with disabilities” by the prefectural and metropolitan governments. This is referred to as “receiving designation,” but neither of these facilities met the requirements to receive such designation.
In order to receive designation, a child development support manager (hereinafter referred to as a “child development support manager”) and two certified child guidance staff (hereinafter referred to as “guidance staff”) must be stationed at the facility. The child development support manager is the director of the daycare center, and the guidance counselor is a staff member who corresponds to a teacher.
At the facility in Hachioji City, there were no child development supervisors on duty. In addition, in order to apply as an instructor, a person must have a teaching license, a childcare license, or two years of work experience in the support business for persons with disabilities. Moreover, although registered as an instructor, the person was not working full-time.
According to Ms. A, “Such staffing irregularities are rampant at directly operated offices under the Kodomo Plus Holdings umbrella,” and she even went so far as to say that “the Hachioji and Tsukuba incidents are just the tip of the iceberg.
President Yanagisawa had instructed his subordinates to increase the number of directly managed offices. In order to increase the number of directly managed offices in a hurry, documents to be submitted to the government were probably falsified. In fact, there were staff members around me who were ‘made to think they were working even when they were not,’ and ‘made to be supervisors without permission.
False Career History
This magazine obtained a “Certificate of Work Experience” submitted to Ibaraki Prefecture by a business directly operated by Kodomo Plus Holdings in order to receive the designation. The “Certificate of Work Experience” is a document that certifies the two years of work experience required to qualify as an instructor. Mr. B, who was ordered to write on this document that he had two years of work experience, said, “Yes, that’s true.
I filled out the “Certificate of Work Experience,” but I was not given any explanation as to where or for what purpose I was required to fill out the form. I knew that I was writing a “made-up story”…… and that this constituted forgery of documents, but I was too afraid to resist because I would lose my salary if I disobeyed the executives. I believe that this kind of document forgery was going on all over the place.
As for Mr. C, who was registered as an instructor, I was made to write false background information, and Mr. C’s name was also registered at other offices without his permission. All this forgery was going on just around me, you know?”
Mr. B says that the local government is partly to blame.
The local government’s on-site inspections are completely meaningless, because they come after giving advance notice of the inspection. They only have the staff available for on-site guidance. I worked at an office with only one supervisor, and we never had any problems, whether we received complaints from parents or not, or whether we were understaffed. I was surprised to hear this summer that an audit by the city of Hachioji had been conducted at a facility in Hachioji, and that it had become a problem. I hope that this will be a good opportunity to drain out all the pus.
Attorney Katsumi Danno, who is familiar with the problems at nursing care facilities and after-school day care services, explains.
The staffing standards required to receive the designation are a full-time child development support manager and two full-time instructors. Failure to meet these requirements is, of course, a violation of the staffing standards. Registering an unqualified person as a qualified person is also a violation of the staffing standards. Since this is an administrative matter, the disposition will be decided on a case-by-case basis, but in minor cases, a reduction in benefit payments will be made as an error adjustment. If it is judged to be malicious, the designation will be revoked and an order will be issued to return the benefit payments.
Incidentally, I wonder how much benefit payments were received by the offices in Hachioji City and Tsukuba City that Mr. A pointed out as having received benefit payments illegally.
For example, assuming that benefit payments were made from November 2017, five years ago, to November this year to the offices I know about, I think it would easily exceed 100 million yen,” said Ms. A.
If the known irregularities are just the “tip of the iceberg,” then how much could the amount of benefit payments received by “Kodomo Plus Holdings” be inflated? We interviewed Mr. Yanagisawa directly.
–We asked Mr. Yanagisawa, “Are you aware of any irregularities at the facilities under Kodomo Plus Holdings, such as using unqualified personnel as instructors or applying to the local government for full-time positions when they are not full-time?
Are you aware of any such irregularities? If there is a discrepancy, I think it should be corrected. As far as I’m concerned, I leave it to the field, so if there was a mistake on the part of our staff, I’ve given them instructions that they should correct it under the guidance of the government office.
— “We are also checking for fraudulent documents that were filed in your name.
‘I don’t think they have my signature on them. My name is on the paperwork at the offices where I worked, but I don’t think that (fraudulent) thing happened.”
–After the Hachioji City audit of the offices under your company, you resigned as representative director of “Kodomo Plus Holdings” and its affiliate “Child Brain,” but what was the reason?
What was the reason? “Originally, we had been talking about transferring the company, and the timing was such that the current president was able to prepare the necessary funds. We have been working on this for about four years now.
–Not because of the audit by the city of Hachioji?
No, it is not.”
–This magazine has confirmed the fact that the application documents were falsified while you were the representative director. And to this day, benefit payments have been made to the said offices. This could be seen as benefit fraud.
There is a business that wants to nullify the contract with us by making it a fact that I was committing benefit fraud.
After this, Mr. Yanagisawa told the reporter, “If you come to the company, I will talk to you properly,” and left. However, the interview was not granted, and a response was delivered in writing under the name of the attorney representing the company, stating, “We are fully cooperating with each local government and operating properly under the supervision of each local government.
Parents who have children with disabilities are willing to invest in the program because they are aware that their children may have to live on their own after they pass away. How does Mr. Yanagisawa listen to his subordinates’ anger at the company’s sloppy management practices that take advantage of such parents’ wishes?
Photography： Junsei Todoroki (direct interview with Mr. Yanagisawa)