We are concerned academic parents and would like to draw your attention to recent events regarding daycare at Congress. Over the last five years, a disturbing pattern has emerged at the annual Federation of Social Sciences and Humanities Congress concerning the lack of affordable and accessible onsite childcare. Indeed, the lack of childcare at Congress has become the norm. This year in Victoria, British Columbia local organizers chose, until very recently, not to offer childcare. Instead, Congress attendees were directed to Victoria Child Care Resources and Referrals (VCCRR), which does not provide childcare, but enables Victoria-based parents to place their children on waiting lists for permanent child care spaces. In late April, Congress organizers contracted Kids and Company, a licensed private childcare provider, to make care available to the children of Congress attendees. The change was quietly announced in a subsection of the Congress 2013 website well after most attendees had already registered and most likely arranged childcare, or else made plans not to attend at all. Conference attendees also faced the same situation in 2012 at the University of Waterloo and Wilfrid Laurier University, where no childcare was made available because organizers erroneously believed that daycare centres would be willing and able to set aside temporary spaces for attendees? children, at the expense of local children waiting for regular child care.
The Congress of Social Sciences and Humanities is Canada?s largest and most prestigious academic conference, with 7000 attendees in 2012, and at least 6000 expected in 2013. Presenting papers and being an active member of one of the associated societies figures prominently in promotion, tenure, and renewal decisions. Planning for childcare should be an integral part of every year?s Congress organization and should not be an afterthought, as it so obviously has been for the last couple of years. While there are organizational challenges to offering childcare, these are no greater than other challenges involved in bringing together thousands of participants from dozens of associations over the course of a single week. Host institutions should not be permitted to ignore childcare; they are not free to ignore any other essential Congress amenity. Attendees should no more have to fight for this service than for accommodation. While booking flights, car rentals, and suitable accommodation in another city online has become a relatively easy process, this is not the case for childcare.
Childcare is fundamentally an equity issue. Its absence produces adverse effect discrimination that particularly impacts women and young academics. We cannot allow past gains for women in academia to be quietly rolled back. We still have more work to do. While we are pleased that there will now be childcare at Congress 2013, at $80 per child per day, it remains prohibitively expensive for many, particularly graduate students and the under-waged. Indeed, childcare is more expensive than basic accommodations, but unlike accommodation, cannot be funded through tri-council or university-based travel grants, under current rules.
We therefore call on the CFHSS to make childcare an essential component of Universities? bids to host the Congress and to develop a subsidy program for graduate students and under-waged attendees. We have drafted a motion that attempts to address these issues (attached in English and French below) and hope that you would consider bringing it forward, or at least a version of it, to your society?s AGM at the upcoming Congress. While we were able to convince the Congress and host institution to address childcare needs this year, albeit at the last moment, we need to find a long-term sustainable solution to the problem that ensures equity for everyone.
(le français suit)
Motion to Support Accessible and Affordable Childcare at the Congress
Motion 1. Whereas in 2012, no childcare arrangements were made for Congress in Waterloo; Whereas in 2013 local organizers chose not to make any childcare arrangements for Congress until late April, after receiving many letters of protest and a petition with hundreds of signatures; Whereas childcare is an equity issue, and the absence of childcare produces adverse effect discrimination which particularly impacts women and young academics We call on the Canadian Federation of Humanities and Social Sciences to mandate that childcare is a compulsory part of the annual Congress that must be provided (or contracted) by the host institution. All host institutions should make plans to offer childcare across all age groups well in advance of Congress, and to publicize information about local childcare arrangements at the same time and with the same enthusiasm as other relevant information about travel, accommodation, and registration.
AND 2. Whereas the childcare that was ultimately contracted for Congress 2013 cost $80 per day per child; Whereas childcare expenses cannot be funded through tri-council or university based grants Whereas other large organizations in the humanities and social sciences (such as the Modern Language Association and the Association of American Geographers) already offer childcare subsidies for their annual conferences; We call on the CFHSS to develop a subsidy program for graduate students and the under-waged.
Veuillez s?il-vous-plaît prendre en considération la motion suivante lors de l?AGA de votre société :
Motion 1. Attendu qu’en 2012, il n?y avait aucun service de garde pour enfants au Congrès à Waterloo; Attendu qu’en 2013 les organisateurs locaux n?ont pris aucune disposition pour offrir un service de garde pour enfants au Congrès avant la fin du mois d’avril, et ce après avoir reçu un grand nombre de lettres de protestation ainsi qu?une pétition avec des centaines de signatures; Attendu que la disponibilité des structures d’accueil pour enfants est un problème d’équité et que l’absence de service de garde pour enfants engendre une discrimination par suite d’effet préjudiciable particulièrement pour les femmes et les jeunes universitaires Nous exigeons que la Fédération des Sciences humaines rende ces structures d’accueil pour enfants obligatoire au Congrès annuel, lesquelles doivent être fournies (ou contractées) par l’institution hôte. Toutes les institutions hôtes devraient prendre les mesures nécessaires pour offrir des services de garde pour enfants à travers toutes les tranches d’âge bien avant le Congrès et annoncer ces informations en même temps et avec le même enthousiasme que les autres informations pertinentes sur les dispositions de voyage, le logement et l’enregistrement.
ET 2. Attendu que les services de garde pour enfants qui ont finalement été contractés pour le Congrès 2013 coûtent 80$ par jour par enfant; Attendu que les frais de ces services ne peuvent être financés par les trois conseils de recherche ni par les subventions universitaires Attendu que d’autres grands organismes de recherche en sciences sociales et humaines (tels l’Association des langues modernes et l’Association de géographes américains) offrent déjà des subventions pour les services de garde lors de leurs conférences annuelles; Nous demandons au FSSHC de développer un programme de subvention pour les services de garde à l?endroit des doctorants et des sous-employés.