Child Guidance Centre staff make two decisions for each child that enters care. The first is whether to remove the child from their family. This is made by evaluating the risk this poses to the family-bond against the risk that leaving the child in the family poses to the child.

The second decision is on the placement type. This centres on the child guidance centre social workers’ constructions of the goals of care, which are shaped by the assessment of the strength of the family-bond and the parents’ present and future capacity to provide care, the functions of different care placements, and the threshold above which a child is seen as unsuitable for foster care.

Chapter 6 outlines the regional variation in these beliefs and the impact these have on policy implementation. The most important of these is the construction of foster care, which can be seen as a proxy for adoption or as professional care in a family setting. This chapter draws on cases of children entering care, as well as pictorial representations of foster care in different local authorities, and places the Japanese alternative care system into the international context.