It Takes a University: Childcare and Postsecondary Education
May 21rst, 2010 to May 22nd, 2010
There is a child care wait time crisis at Canadian post-secondary institutions. At the University of British Columbia (in Vancouver), for example, there are 1500 children on the waiting list for access to childcare, and at the universities of Dalhousie (in Halifax) and Alberta (in Edmonton), there are two to four year waiting lists for childcare. While post-secondary childcare available in Canada is generally safe, and of excellent quality, there is simply not enough of it to provide for the needs of the university community, or to make universities family friendly spaces. Having sufficient safe, affordable childcare will improve accessibility to university or college for many diverse groups of students, who are otherwise forced to choose between going to school and taking care of their children. It would also improve completion times, allowing more students to enter, or re-enter, the workforce faster. However, while many campuses, like UBC Vancouver, provide childcare, it is clear that supply does not meet demand. The issue is not that Canadian universities do not want to provide childcare, but that we need a national vision for infrastructure spending on childcare that can attend to local needs, and a clear articulation of the importance of childcare for university communities. This kind of vision cannot happen without a dialogue between friends, activists, and academics; the aim of this conference is to provide a space for this dialogue to occur.
The issue is not if universities have a duty of care to provide childcare for all staff, faculty, and students who are in need, but how many childcare spaces are needed, and where the money for these new spaces is going to come from. How can university communities move from the ideal of safe, affordable, childcare on campus, and towards the reality of its implementation? Key questions around this topic include, but are not limited to:
* What would a child friendly campus look like?
* How would it be funded?
* Whose responsibility is it to implement changes?
* Why have some campuses been more successful in creating childcare spaces than others?
* What should the role of student unions and associations be in regards to the creation and maintenance of childcare centers?
* What role do campus neighborhood and community associations play in setting up and implementing childcare?
* What are the ethical implementations of using “for profit” childcare on campus?
* Will child-minding centers work as well as, or better then, childcare centers in meeting the needs of students, staff, and the communities’ childcare needs?
* Should on-campus childcare be primarily for the “university community,” or should it benefit all community members?
In this first ever national conference on post-secondary campus and community childcare, we are inviting multi-disciplinary submissions from academics, activists, and researchers from all corners of the academic and non-academic world. Since this is an issue that affects all members of a university community, from staff to administrators, and graduate students to deans, we will be open to every form of discussion of childcare on university campuses and communities possible, from the creation of workshops, to discussions of activism, to formal academic papers, to proposals for panel discussions. At this time, we are asking for a 250 word abstract, with a potential bibliography, that will outline what your participation at the conference might look like as a speaker. If possible, these submissions should not have any identifying markers in the document or in the abstract.
One of the goals of this conference will be to create a working paper on childcare in Canadian universities. This would be a collaborative paper, that all conference participants would be free to work on together and which we hope will serve as a road-map towards the creation of safe, affordable, childcare on Canadian university campuses. The conference will also aim to be a model for a child friendly academic environment. This will include the provision of childcare at the conference, and activities that will be open for both children and adults.
Please send submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org by March 1, 2010.