A work permit is a new issue for most parents. And while they can be a slight hassle, they are important and in place to protect your child. Here are the basics:

All states regulate employment for children, whether they are actors or not.

The State of California requires any child under the age of 18 (with a few exceptions) to have a valid and current work permit before they are allowed to work in the entertainment industry.

The first thing to notice about this is that if your child lands a job where they begin shooting the next day or so (not unusual) you will have a serious problem unless their work permit is already secured. So take care of this before they begin auditioning! This applies not only to acting jobs, but also to commercials, modeling, and vocal recording. The permits are valid for six months and renewable every six months while the child is under the age of 18.

There are services that take care of this process for you for a fee, but this is really unnecessary. The six-month permits are free of charge, and the first time you apply, you will need to be able to supply a birth certificate or other legally acceptable proof of birth date. Both first time, and all renewal applications for the work permit, must include approval from the child’s school—specifically, an authorized school administrator must verify that your child’s attendance and grades are “satisfactory.” Note that this is an excellent incentive for your child to keep up their grades and attendance! The school’s approval is a necessary part of getting the work permit.

If you are applying for the first time (or renewing) when school is not is session, you can supply your child’s most recent report card and a letter from the school principal stating that your minor is satisfactory in all academic subjects, attendance, and health.

If your child is homeschooled, as so many young performers are, you need to complete the application and attach it to an affidavit from whichever current private school or local school your child’s studies fall under. Again, the requirements of satisfactory attendance, academic progress and health are the same.

NEW:

As of January 1st, 2012, there is now a 10-day temporary entertainment work permit available for online application. It has a different list of requirements, as well as a fee. To apply for the temporary permit, your minor child must be between the ages of 15 days and 16 years; have never applied for a 6 Month Entertainment Permit; and have not previously applied for a 10 Day Temporary Entertainment Work Permit. This appears to be designed for first time, emergency use, as it has a fee and is only good for 10 days, vs. the standard permit, which is free and good for six months.

Contact information for California Entertainment Work Permit for a Minor can be found here, on the California Film Commission’s website. They can be applied for online, by mail, or in person at the Van Nuys, CA office.

Full disclosure: I learned about work permits and Coogan Accounts the hard way. In August of 2011, my daughter Dove Cameron had been auditioning for a full eight months—without being cast in a single role—when suddenly she booked her first gig: a recurring guest star role on a popular cable show. She needed both a Coogan Account and a work permit in about 36 hours. I panicked and spent about $100 to have a service take care of the work permit for me as I needed to know without question that we would have it in time, and then dropped everything else, did some fast research and set her up with a Coogan Account.

Please save yourself the stress and do this up front! Done without rush, this is all free. And your child is one step closer to getting their dream.

My book, The Hollywood Parents Guide, available on Amazon contains everything I wish I’d known when Dove and I started this journey, and will save you untold amounts of time, money, and stress. Full of information you MUST know, it also features stories from parents of other kids who’ve made it!

Or book an hour consulting with me to come up with an individualized plan that takes your own unique needs into account. For about the cost of an hour with a professional acting coach, you can get your questions answered and a road map to help you move forward toward your dream.

Invest a little in your kid’s future today.

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