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Info for Parents of Young Performers Re NY State Child Education Performers Trust Act

The "Child Performer Education and Trust Act of 2003" establishes minimal guidelines for the protection of child performers working throughout the entertainment industry in New York State. The law, which serves to codify protection of wages and education for the thousands of children working in the entertainment industry, and became effective on March 28, 2004.

The genesis of the "Child Performer Education and Trust Act" is California's Coogan Law, which arose out of the experiences of the famous child actor, Jackie Coogan. Coogan was forced to sue his mother and stepfather, after he reached his majority, to recover funds that he had earned as a child actor, but essentially he was left penniless despite earning millions of dollars. While the end result of Mr. Coogan's legal battle against his parents might have been futile, it did result in the landmark California legislation enacted in 1939. The New York "Child Performer Education and Trust Act of 2003" finally establishes many of the same protections offered to children working in California.

This new law will be administered and enforced by the New York State Department of Labor. Please visit to find their official communication regarding compliance with and details of this new law. Although parents of child performers in New York are familiar with the current requirement to obtain a work permit, there are some significant changes and additional responsibilities and procedures that we think should be noted. Below, please find a brief summary of the main components of the law:

  1. Permits: New York State law requires that all employers of child performers have a valid Certificate of Eligibility to Employ Child Performers and that all child performers they employ have a valid Employment Permit for a Child Performer. In an effort to make this process more user friendly, the Department of Labor has made these applications available on-line at the above listed website. Parents may simply print out a 15-day permit from their computer. And as long as the required paperwork (birth certificate, etc) is sent back to Albany within 15 days, a six-month blanket child work permit will be sent directly to the child’s home.
  2. Trust Accounts: UTMA, UGMA compliant accounts (a.k.a. Custodian accounts) or Blocked Trust accounts will all meet the trust account requirements. Coogan Trust Accounts established in California will also be acceptable. While a host of banks are familiar with UTMA and UGMA accounts, we do know that that Actors Federal Credit Union is fully prepared to open Blocked Trust Accounts.
  3. Satisfactory Academic Performance: The "Child Performer Education and Trust Act" mandates, in part, that the child maintain satisfactory academic performance and that the parent work with the child performer, any certified teacher provided, and with the child’s school of enrollment to ensure that the child receives required instruction. However, AEA, SAG and AFTRA have requested further clarification to determine the exact information that will help guide parents and employers regarding proper compliance.

AEA, AFTRA and SAG will update you immediately upon receiving the requested clarification. Please feel free to call Pearl Brady at 212-869-8530 should you have any additional questions.

Click here for answers to general questions about the new law.


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