Annual Meeting 2020: AACR to Offer Free Child Care

There’s a quiet corner of the San Diego Convention Center where snacks and toys are plentiful, and naps are encouraged.

For the 24th year, the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) will provide a child care center at its Annual Meeting. This year, there’s a brand new benefit: It’s free.

“The AACR has always been committed to providing safe, nurturing child care to support the researchers who travel to the Annual Meeting with their children,” said Pamela Ballinger, the AACR’s senior director of Meetings and Exhibits. The AACR has traditionally subsidized about 70 percent of the cost of the child care center. This year, it’s fully covered.

“This is a big step, but it’s the right thing to do,” Ballinger said. “Today, there are more and more scientists who are couples and who would both like to attend the meeting. Covering the cost of child care helps make that a reality for some of our researchers who are building their careers and building their families.”

Among those researchers is Duygu Selcuklu, PhD, a molecular biologist and lead project manager at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York. The mother of a 3-year-old girl, she was eager to attend the Annual Meeting for the first time this year. But so was her husband, who works in the same department.

“We had been expecting that one of us would attend and the other would stay home, but with child care taken care of, we are now both planning to attend,” she said. “This gives us a great opportunity to attend scientific sessions, the poster sessions, and do a little bit of networking.”

Getty Images.

The AACR’s Annual Meeting child care is provided by KiddieCorp Inc., which specializes in providing child care for professional meetings and conventions. While the program varies from year to year, children can expect experienced, energetic caregivers, and plenty of toys, crafts, group games, and snacks. Some children might stay for a full day, whereas others will drop in for an hour or two, perhaps while a parent is presenting a poster.

The child care program is designed for children from 6 months to 12 years of age. Special arrangements may be made for infants under 6 months old by contacting the AACR’s Meetings and Exhibits department at [email protected]. Advance registration by March 27 is highly recommended. Further details are available on the Annual Meeting website; registration is available here.

In a separate initiative, the AACR’s Women in Cancer Research group is sponsoring a nursing mothers’ suite. This suite will provide a private, comfortable environment for attendees who are nursing or pumping.

Ballinger said these programs should ensure that more early-career scientists will be able to attend the meeting without sacrificing time with their young families.

“This is a relatively small cost that carries a great benefit: helping the next generation of cancer scientists develop their careers,” she said.