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Bringing what was learned in Canada to the field of welfare in Japan

  • Izumi Niki
  • Izumi Niki
  • 2014 (3rd cohort)


Certified Care Worker and Research Institute Assistant, Center for Gender Studies, International Christian University
Dispatched to:
Master’s Degree Program, the Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work at the University of Toronto
On campus at the University of Toronto. I have a desk that is for graduate students.
Going round the neighborhood at Halloween
What are you focusing on during your fellowship period?

I study each day seeking the most effective support for care and welfare service providers to prevent burnout. Today, the Japanese welfare system has a shortage of labor, and poor support for care workers following certification has created working conditions that lead to exhaustion and reduced retention. As I feel a sense of crisis in this situation, I am studying working conditions and mechanisms that prevent burnout and enable workers to continue their work at ease, while I look 10 to 20 years in the future.

Could you explain briefly what exactly you have been doing during the International Fellowship period?

I am enrolled in the two-year Master of Social Work Program at the graduate school of University of Toronto. My studies cover a wide range of areas, from theoretical approaches to social structures to practical methodology for the operation of social welfare organizations.

My particular focus is on the development of human resources involved in the operation of welfare organizations, methods of supervision, the improvement of working conditions, the implementation and evaluation of programs, and leadership theory. At the same time, I joined in a local welfare organization as a trainee for three months in order to gain practical knowledge and experience.

Please give your feedback on the International Fellowship Program.

I am a married woman with two children who wished to find a solution to an important social problem. To pursue my goal, I wanted to resign from my job and study abroad. Thanks to the International Fellowship Program, I have been able to actively work toward achieving my goal. I came to Canada in the first year with my two children, and my husband joined us in the second year. The support I receive from the International Fellowship Program allows me to live worry-free with my family while I pursue my studies.

I believe that this opportunity given by the Fellowship Program will not only contribute to my area of study, social welfare, but it will also have a significant impact on my and my family’s future.

How do you want to build on your studies in the US after returning to Japan?

In Canada, various measures are taken to provide workers in the area of social welfare with a safe and secure work environment. I would like to introduce these mechanisms and ideas to workplaces throughout the Japanese welfare system.

Supervision is one example. In Canada, supervision of social workers is required and utilized for capacity building as well as an approach to prevent burnout and increase employee retention. Naturally, the development of supervisors is actively organized. I trust that Canadian knowhow and ideas to protect workers mentally and physically will contribute to Japan in the future.