A big thank you to Martin Kafka, who read through the whole blog, and took the time to email and update me on whether conditions for parents at the university I had worked at have changed in the six years since I quit in disgust.
And the answer is: NO!
There is a committee of the faculty senate that has suggested some changes, like undertaking a study to see what other universities provide for family leave, clarifying the options available, consider more creative uses of "leave time" etc, things that sound very abstract, especially since most universities and colleges have been hesitant to offer specific helpful aids to parents. Here, I must say that although academics are always sounding the alarm about how corporate universities are becoming, this is one instance where some lessons from the corporate world would be more helpful. Some large companies are lifetimes ahead of universities in paying attention to family leave and family responsibilities.
There are some more specific things that the report suggested, like providing emergency back up childcare. I heard an NPR report recently in which a representative from Lands End was talking about the back up childcare center they built, in which workers can use, perhaps 21 days a year, or some number decently close to that. They also suggest that the university should expand it's commitment to oncampus childcare.
(To link to the report, click this entry's title.)
So, in short, nothing has changed. Six years. Thanks Martin, for the bad news!