Pilot Program Offers Childcare Grants to Scientists in 2023

The LSST Corporation (LSSTC) and the IceCube Collaboration (IceCube) are pleased to announce a pilot childcare support program generously funded by the Heising-Simons Foundation. The partnership pilot program, a landmark in multimessenger astronomy, will provide childcare funding for four conferences over the next 12 months — two LSSTC-sponsored conferences and two IceCube-sponsored conferences. The program is designed to facilitate equitable participation in scientific meetings and reduce the burden of childcare costs for attending caregivers.

“We’re thrilled to partner with IceCube on this initiative, to create a more inclusive culture of participation in collaboration meetings and also to learn about how caregiving needs impact the ability of scientists to participate in scientific networking opportunities,“ says Beth Willman, the CEO and Director for Science of LSSTC.

Conference attendees can request funding to cover childcare costs above and beyond their usual expenses. Uniquely, individuals will be able to request the funding amount they need.

“This pilot program will provide much-needed support to our scientific colleagues who are also caregivers. We know these individuals are spending hundreds to thousands of dollars out-of-pocket to attend conferences each year,” says Ellen Bechtol, Outreach Specialist at the Wisconsin IceCube Particle Astrophysics Center at UW–Madison and convener of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion working group in IceCube.

Evaluation will document the program’s impact and provide further details on how caregiving roles affect equitable scientific participation.

“Scientists who are also caregivers often must decide whether to attend or forgo a meeting due to childcare considerations. With this pilot childcare support program, we hope to better understand how to meet the needs of such scientists – whether it be augmenting in-home childcare, arranging for childcare at the meeting, or enabling children and their caregivers to also travel to the meeting,” says Cyndi Atherton, Director of the Science program at the Heising-Simons Foundation. “This grant will benefit the IceCube Collaboration and Rubin/LSST communities and, hopefully, with time, the greater astronomy and cosmology community.”