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Creating a Caregiver Fund/Budget Line-Item

"It was an enormous help and really was what allowed me to take the job."

- Participant Feedback on the impact of childcare stipends (The Radical Parent Inclusion Project from The Playwrights Realm + PAAL Case Study)

“As someone with a longer commute the stipend was more helpful than the sitter services because my daughter is in school.” And: “It was an enormous help and really was what allowed me to take the job. I can’t stress enough how the explicitly family-positive nature of this project made every decision easier.”

"We must create a society where parents are able to fully participate as well as financially survive." - Mickey Rowe, “Re-Defining ‘Radical’ in Terms of How We Support Parents” | HowlRound


Arguments against the need to budget for childcare revolve around cost sustainability, provision boundaries, efficacy, and severity of need. However, through interviews with institutions, data from the PAAL Childcare grants, and the application of financial stipends for caregivers in the Radical Parent Inclusion Project (RPI), financial support for caregivers results in clear benefit to employment opportunity, sustainability, and improved productivity and work benefits. Below are the steps to budgeting childcare support, including how to report on taxes, develop qualification boundaries, and apply the funds.

Watch leadership talk about their budgeting experience and strategies for caregiver compensation in the session on COMPENSATION from the PAAL Summit 2019 here.

(Coming soon) Childcare Budget Breakdown for RPI >>> (Coming soon) PAAL Childcare Grant Need & Impact Data >>>


The dilemma of access alone is that it can only reach those who have enough privilege to show up for it. Without structural support, disadvantage individuals whose caregiving creates independently insurmountable obstacles never reach the point where access will help. The reality of socio-economic obstacles, often exacerbated by the artist and non-profit pay scale, can financially overwhelm caregivers to the point of turning down employment, leaving the field, or going into debt even during employment. Intersectional realities such as gender and race, covered in more detail in other sections of this handbook, exacerbate these financial realities, acting in direct opposition to any institutions efforts toward true diversification and support within its employment initiatives.

One of the most direct solutions to the financial obstacles of caregiving is financial provisions for childcare.

(Coming soon:) National Statistics on Caregiver Obstacles and Impact >>>


  1. Commit a line in the budget to financial childcare provision that is served by a designated fund with clear boundaries for the objective (this also help with the Human Resources expectations of the provision; see not at bottom of chapter.)

  2. Commit a minimum of $500 per production in the season and/or quarter in the year for employees. Make the goal for childcare provisions to reach a commitment of 0.004 of the total budget.

  3. Assess the financial "stress points" of the caregivers in your organization's schedule. (a) For employees, after hours required events such as gala events, opening nights, tech runs, production meetings, work during holidays (when schools are closed), and more often require unique and expensive childcare arrangements. (b) For artists on production, extended and extracurricular hours such tech week, press events, opening night, and more often require logistically taxing and exorbitant childcare costs.

  4. Engage your donors on the groundbreaking, necessary, and outreach-friendly opportunity of financially supporting caregivers.

  5. Include "caregiver resources available" in forward-facing employment and audition notices. (Parents often opt out of employment when it does not seem to have support for their caregiving responsibilities).

  6. Create internal boundaries on the fund for qualifying caregiver types, amounts, and . Consider using the legal definition of major life events and dependents.

  7. Determine pre-emptive provision/reimbursement protocol for childcare fund distribution and proof of payment requirements.

  8. Open internal application for funds to all individuals in the organization, regardless of place on the employment hierarchy.

  9. Collect proof of payment and cross check with application.

  10. File payments as "caretaker reimbursements."

(Coming soon) RPI Project Childcare Stipend Application and Protocol >>>


In an exclusive interview with Ariana Smart Truman of Elevator Repair Service (ERS) for the PAAL Handbook, Ariana detailed how ERS had evolved its caregiver support over time to expand what and who it supports, widening the opportunity for the institution to provide for its participants. On a panel for TCG's fall forum in 2018, Ariana revealed that the amount at the greatest provision to the widest extent from ERS still only reached less than 2% of the budget. PAAL's national all-gender, all-discipline childcare grants has begun documenting how small amounts for institutions translate to large amounts for individuals. Below are some sample budget breakdowns that demonstrate this principle followed by a comparative table.

Working Models of Yearly Budget Line Items for Childcare Provision:

  • Elevator Repair Service: Less than 2%

  • The Playwrights Realm (RPI): $5,428 (midyear to date)

  • The TEAM: $4,593 (FY 2018), (1.6% of Annual Budget)

  • PAAL Childcare Grants: $4500


Language provided in federal law for caregiver changes in household under Major Life Events and Dependents clearly distinguish individuals who are effected economically by a range of caregiving realities. For financial support from an institution, beginning with these legal definitions creates objective boundaries of care that remove subjectivity for who qualifies for financial caregiver support.

  • Major Life Event Changes to Household: "Had a baby, adopted a child, or placed a child for foster care." [source]

  • "Children who qualify as dependents: If your son or daughter is your biological child, stepchild, foster child, sibling, step-sibling, or a descendant of any of these individuals, you can claim him/her as your dependent, but the child can’t turn 19 at any time during the tax year (age 24 if a full-time student). Under no circumstances can you claim a child that is older than you. The child also has to live with you for more than half of the tax year and you have to provide at least half of the child’s financial support." [source]

  • "Relatives who qualify as dependents: If you don’t have a child that qualifies as a dependent, you may still have someone in your life who is eligible, assuming you provide more than half of their financial support. A qualifying relative could include your parents, stepparents, grandparents, nieces and nephews, in-laws and any other blood ancestor who does not reside with you. Other more-distant relatives may still qualify if they live with you for the entire tax year." [source]


These numbers come from individuals from the field of the performing arts, specifically.

"I hire a babysitter (herself a proud member of AEA) for $22 an hour to care for my two children when I am at work. My husband, a Local 1 Stagehand, will only be able to be present for 34 of those January hours, leaving me (the primary caregiver of our children) with 100 childcare hours ($2,200) to pay for my two children"

"My child will be enrolled in full time pre-k during the time of my workshop in January 2020-Feburary 2020. The rate for pre-k is $1100/month. She is enrolled from 845am-3pm every day, but we will be require to do "1 1/2 hours extended time" -- which comes out to an extra $15/day (or $75/week, or $300/month), so that my husband has time to come home from his job to pick her up. Grand total, $1400/month for childcare."

"My son will be in daycare so that I can participate in a children's show with StoryBook Theater from January 7 to March 21, 2020. It is 2.5 months of childcare. We have qualified for a reduced rate of $823.80 per month at the childcare center ($2,060 total over 2.5 months), but at those rates, it would consume half of my pay from the show. (We are paid on a per-show basis, the total of which is currently estimated to be $5,200 before taxes.)

"The theatre I am contracted to work is unable to provide safe housing for myself and an infant. I will have to rent an airbnb for a cost of $800. Caregiver expense during my residency at theatre is $1000.00."


Here is testimony from applicants itemizing the direct impact of $500-$750 in childcare provision. (A note on the coverage: most applicants are applying for jobs that are already feasible, meaning the large part of employment in the field that demands almost all or more of the total income is covered in the next section):

  • "A $500 grant would cover one writing day per week for two months. This would be a tremendous help in completing the project."

  • "Caregiver Rate: $18/hr (based on 2018 rate in Seattle) Approximate Coverage: 40 Hours TOTAL expected cost: $720 Grant used towards that amount."

  • "Caregiver rate - $15/hr Approx 4 hours/day @ 7 days = 28 hours Total Caregiver Expense = $420 Misc Expenses (Transportation/Snacks/Activities/Potential Sick Day Care) = $80 TOTAL = $500 *note: children will be in school until mid-afternoon which will not require extra childcare expense, except in the case of illness."

  • "Approximately 33 hours of babysitting at $15/hr"

  • "Babysitter at $15/hr Approximately 50 Hours of Child Care: Would cover Focus, 2 days of Tech and Dress rehearsal and Previews, the rest of the time I would need to spend additional funds or have baby with me at the theatre. I recently tracked how much I spent on childcare for my son while I worked on a local project and it came out to $770 for 10 days."

  • "25 hours of $20/hour childcare to cover some of the hours my husband and mother cannot watch my son."

  • "After-School Program: $77/wk indefinitely"



By providing as little as a $500 one-time stipend, an institution with a $30,000 production budget can provide a return of 12.5% of projected childcare cost to the artist in need with only a 1.7% increase of the overall budget cost.

Note on cost potential in the graph: The numbers on these potential costs for individuals rarely become a reality considered in the data because for most parents, spending 82% on childcare means that they turn down employment completely, removing them from grant applications and other statistics based on employment cost. In other words, the work that costs 82% of income is prevalent enough, and, in the end, costs the parent their job all together.

Note on increase potential: By doubling the childcare stipend provision to $1000, the institution raises the production cost by only 1/30 but effectively supports 1/4 of the artist's potential childcare costs.


While other family-friendly initiatives require deeper structural and tangible overhaul of time and space, such as implementing a Five Day Rehearsal Week or building out an inclusive Family Room, the advantage of creating caregiver stipends is that the parents already tackling the logistical obstacles feel support financially while the institution provides a near negligible amount financially while only needing to make logistical adjustments to the likely already existing reimbursement system.

  • In terms of time and space resources especially, the childcare stipend is a high impact low cost provision for the institution.

  • The provision can also apply to both visiting artists and salaried employees in a single system, creating equitable benefits across disciplines.


New York City based ensemble and one of PAAL's Childcare Match Grant and PAAL Award of Recognition Recipients, The TEAM, has been providing childcare stipends for their ensemble members for years. What started as a restricted fund is not a separate fund that the TEAM fundraises for, even adding a button for donating to the childcare fund directly on the company's website.

On relatability: "So many people we've reached out to [for the childcare donations] have had these [caregiver] experiences." - Allie LaLonde on Donor Support for Caregivers

The Playwrights Realm has sustained the childcare stipend and other caregiver support pieces in their budgets after RPI. They continue to fundraise to sustain their reserves and report actively on the impact of the funds' use.


The model we recommend treats the childcare provision as a reimbursement cost. While the documentation of reimbursements take time, most organizations already have that system in place. For the RPI, the General Manager and Producer Roberta Pereira confirmed the most stable process was to develop "caretaker reimbursements" as a line item. From Roberta:

"We classify it as a 'caretaking reimbursement' so as not to be counted as income and be taxable, but that means we need backup documentation for all expenses, which we collect in the form of copies of checks, screenshots of Vemo/Paypall payments, receipts from a sitter or a service (like Broadway Babysitters), etc. I also send caretakers a form to itemize the expenses and then crosscheck it against their receipts before processing the reimbursement. I spoke to two other NY companies that simply provide the reimbursement and don't ask for any backups. If it raises any flags during their audits, they will not have backup documents and it could be a problem, but they figure it is such a small amount that the chances of it being flagged are small. The way we do it is more time consuming, but we prefer to do things completely by the books so we don't ever have any problems."


In order to prevent discrimination, the fund must have clear boundaries and be available to everyone who qualifies. It can be supported by donors and designated for the purpose of caregiving expenses, but by making it available to all employees, then every individual is able to apply. In order to create the fund specifically for caregiver purposes, you can create the boundaries of the fund by adopting the federal or state relationship qualifiers of "caretaking reimbursements" for "legal dependents" while completing work responsibilities.


Create internal boundaries on the fund for qualifying caregiver types, amounts, and events. Consider using the legal definition of major life events and dependents.


Child Dependents Relationship Test "To meet this test, a child must be...Your son, daughter, stepchild, foster child, or a descendant (for example, your grandchild) of any of them; or Your brother, sister, half brother, half sister, stepbrother, stepsister, or a descendant (for example, your niece or nephew) of any of them." (source)

Member of Household or Relationship Test "To meet this test, a person must...Live with you all year as a member of your household, or...A person related to you in any of the following ways doesn't have to live with you all year as a member of your household to meet this test. Your child, stepchild, foster child, or a descendant of any of them (for example, your grandchild). (A legally adopted child is considered your child.) Your brother, sister, half brother, half sister, stepbrother, or stepsister.Your father, mother, grandparent, or other direct ancestor, but not foster parent. Your stepfather or stepmother. A son or daughter of your brother or sister. A son or daughter of your half brother or half sister. A brother or sister of your father or mother. Your son-in-law, daughter-in-law, father-in-law, mother-in-law, brother-in-law, or sister-in-law..." (source)


In order to manage distribution of the funds, the RPI project created a cap at $1,000 per individual.


For larger organizations, in order to manage what qualifies as "caretaking responsibilities" while engaging in tasks for work, listing qualifying events will help further specify the boundaries and many were used during RPI. We recommend starting with financial "stressor points" for caregivers, moments incredibly common in the arts calendar but incredibly uncommon in terms of finding and financing care and engaging with your organization's caregiver affinity group to understand where the highest need may fall for the caregivers directly supported by the fund. Some examples include:

  • Gala Events

  • Meetings/Calls/Required Attendance Outside 9:00 AM-5:00 PM Weekday Work Hours when daycares and schools are not available

  • Opening Night Show and After-Show Event

  • Rehearsal Calls

  • Production Meetings

  • Tech Rehearsal, Production Notes, Meetings (all work-related activity during extensive hours should be considered)

  • Costume Fittings

  • Press and Promotion Opportunities


If this resource has been helpful for your organization, consider becoming an Institutional Member and support PAAL's work in updating this resource. If this resource has helped you as an individual, consider becoming an Individual Member and support your local PAAL Chapter City.

To use this source in research or print, please use proper citation as the following: PAAL National Handbook on Caregiver Support |

Have something to add? Contribute to this resource! We appreciate all our named and anonymous contributors for growing this resource to support caregivers in our field!

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