BU professor, Brandon Friendship Centre partner in Canadian family study

June 2, 2020

Dr. Patty Douglas, an Assistant Professor in Brandon University’s Faculty of Education, is partnering with the Brandon Friendship Centre as part of a major national research project. Their participation in the project was featured recently by the Brandon Sun:

BU prof part of a national families study

A Brandon University professor is getting the chance to participate in a new seven-year study led by Ontario’s Brock University that has received $2.5 million in funding.

Patty Douglas of the university’s education department is one of 53 researchers across Canada looking into the impacts of policies on child care, parental leave and employment on families.

A woman holds her hear while looking to her right

Dr. Patty Douglas

“What’s new with this partnership grant is the way in which it asks what the best mix of all of those things for diverse Canadian families (is),” Douglas said. “Single parents, LGBTQI2S families whether parents or kids, Indigenous families, etc. … all of those families have differential access to child care, child care subsidies, to employment, to parental leave and are impacted and experience those policies in many different ways.”

Douglas said this new study will build on the research a core group of academics have been working on for the past 30 years. She is the Brandon lead for the project and is partnering with the Brandon Friendship Centre to do her research.

“The Brandon Friendship Centre will help us to connect with families,” she said. “Part of it will be interviewing, part of it will be inviting families to make stories with me in digital storytelling workshops.”

This isn’t the first seven-year project Douglas has been a part of. She also worked for two years on another project as the Brandon lead on a study into inclusive early childhood service systems, and recently issued a policy brief on child care through it.

While the study has been in the works since before the COVID-19 pandemic started, beginning work during the pandemic will give researchers a chance to examine the effects of these policies during a crisis situation.

“With COVID, it’s becoming extremely clear and apparent for people in a general sense how essential child care is for the economy the recover and for families to thrive and survive hard times like this,” she said. “I think this work is even more relevant.

“As you can imagine, it can take some years of planning before you get to this stage of being awarded this (grant). It was planned pre-pandemic where it was already identified that we had this care crisis and rising employment precarity that needed to be addressed in this more systemic and integrated way. Now that COVID has happened, it will be even more important.”

With in-person meetings constrained by preventive health measures, Douglas said she has worked to adapt her research process so much of it can take place online.

The professor said she uses a lot of multimedia elements in her work and she will use those elements to illustrate her findings. Through her research on this project, she wants to show the lived experiences the impacts these policies have had on people in Manitoba.

“It will inform policies post-pandemic as well,” she said.

Another priority of hers is to include students in the research project so they can see be trained on how to participate in projects like this and see how knowledge is made.

» cslark@brandonsun.com