Amber Stark

Family Care Grant Supports Caregivers at SIOP Annual Conference

By Julie Carle

SIOP’s commitment to supporting caregivers at the 2022 Annual Conference made a difference this year for 20 conference participants who were awarded Family Care Grants.

Among the recipients for the inaugural awards were I-O psychology master’s and doctoral students and early career professionals. The $500 grants helped cover caregiving costs.

The Family Care Grants are the latest endeavor by SIOP and the Women’s Inclusion Network to ensure I-O psychology students and professionals with caregiver responsibilities can fully participate in the conference. For several years, SIOP has provided lactation rooms at the Annual Conference and attendees have the option of attending family-friendly reception, which was created to provide networking and support for SIOP members and their families.

The Family Care Grants initially were approved for a 2-year trial for 2020-2021. Because the COVID pandemic canceled those in-person conferences, the 2022 Annual Conference in Seattle was the first year for the grants.

“We established this grant to support members who are caregivers,” said Drake Van Egdom, Family Care Subcommittee chair. “Caregiving demands make attending conferences much harder given the additional financial and practical challenges and barriers. We note that these challenges are particularly burdensome for graduate students and early career professionals who typically face additional challenges with obtaining childcare.”

Attending the 2022 conference was especially meaningful for one grant awardee whose caregiving responsibilities for a bed-bound grandmother otherwise would have kept him at home. He knew, based on his professors’ advice, that attending a SIOP conference is valuable for learning new things, building a professional brand, and networking with important people.

“It would have been hard to justify going to the Seattle conference given how much time I would have to take off from being home for my caretaking responsibilities,” the I-O master’s student said. “I really wanted to attend my first SIOP (conference) ever, especially one where I had my first SIOP presentation accepted.”

The grant enabled Shannon Rowley, an I-O psychology doctoral student and a single parent, to attend the conference and give her full attention to the experience knowing that her daughter would be well cared for.

“SIOP’s support is especially important for single working parents who do not want to bring their children to SIOP in order to be able to better pay attention and to avoid parenting discrimination,” Rowley said.

Dr. Katrina Burch, an assistant professor of psychology and director of an I-O psychology graduate degree program, used the grant to help cover the cost of in-home care for her daughter while she traveled to the conference.

“There are many universities where faculty receive limited-to-no support to attend conferences, leaving the burden of cost on the individual faculty to engage in these important professional development activities, which count toward our performance metrics,” she said. “Anything SIOP can do to support those of us with caregiving duties to ‘even the playing field’ is greatly appreciated and necessary.”

According to Van Egdom, the grants will be available again for the 2023 conference as part of the 2-year trial period, with the potential then for the grants to become permanent. There appears to be a need for this type of support given that 28 individuals applied for the 20 available grants this year, he said.

“The Family Care Grant was a success this year. We found that the use of social media and our professional network contacts were helpful for spreading the word and getting this resource out to those who could benefit.”

For more information about the grant visit the SIOP Annual Conference awards webpage.

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