Conference attendance is an essential requirement for anyone building a research career but there are challenges in attending conferences for individuals with care responsibilities. Through anecdotal evidence from staff, it was concluded that there was a need for assistance with payments of additional childcare arrangements for individuals attending conferences/workshops/training events.
Developing feasibility plans for the creation of new welfare services: Establishing a Conference Care Fund
Develop a Conference care fund to provide some costs of childcare arrangements to support individuals attending conferences/workshops/training.
The fund in part is to provide financial help to academic with dependents and in part to send the message that the university recognised the challenge of conference attendance for parents with children only.
Resources, budget to be allocated by university/faculty/department funds.
A small team of staff to evaluate applications and organise logistics.
Support for academics with caring responsibilities.
Work and personal life integration
Type of action
Availability of supports/resources
University of Warwick
Higher education institution
Action level of implementation
Researchers/professors and technical and administrative staff
- The idea was pitched to the Chair of the University Working group who supported it.
- Initially, one Faculty provided a budget of £2000 per year to pay for claims of up to £100 (maximum 2 per person per year). This has now been extended to all Faculties which reserve up to £2000 each annually.
- The fund provides payments cover costs of child care or other caring responsibilities which are above and beyond what is incurred for a normal working day, e.g. after school clubs, additional child minder hours, travel costs for grandparents to travel to help babysit.
- Small Awards (of up to £150) are available to academic, research active staff and those in appropriate support or administrative posts to help support the extra child-care / caring costs associated with attendance at conferences
- Individuals interested in getting this support submit a form stating why they need additional support and outlining normal child caring arrangements. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis until the available money is used up. A small committee assesses the applications.
- Individuals who are successful in getting this support need to submit a very brief report on how the money actually made a difference to the applicant.
Initially it was considered as a fund to cover childcare costs but individuals requested funding to meet other caring responsibilities.
The fund was responsive to the needs of individuals. It was initially established for child-care but was expanded its scope to cover all caring responsibilities. The cap has been raised to £150.
Tips/strategies – Lessons learnt
Ensure that it is a tax-free allowance, so ensure that you check the tax implications with the institutional Finance Office.
Establish a committee (3−4 members maximum) to evaluate applications.
Ensure financial resources are allocated to this by university/faculty/department.
More detailed Outcomes/Impact
About 80 people have benefited from the fund since its introduction (predominantly women but also men). Approximately £8,000 has been spent for this purpose.
This fund proved so popular that that all Faculties of the institution now contribute £2000 each per year (each claim capped at £150 and limited to 2 claims per academic year).
Feedback from staff utilising the fund has been excellent.