Grants and Funding

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Frequently Asked Questions
Policies Related to Parental Leave and Child Care
Last Revised: June 1, 2011


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  1. Can Institutions use grant funds for dependent care expenses?

    Yes, NIH grant awards provide for reimbursement of actual, allowable costs incurred and are subject to OMB Cost Principles. Generally, institutions treat child care expenses as an employee or fringe benefit. Fringe benefits are allowable as part of overall compensation to employees in proportion to the amount of time or effort employees devote to the grant-supported project, provided such costs are incurred under formally established institutional policies that are consistently applied regardless of the source of support. Alternatively, child care expenses may be incorporated into facilities and administrative (F&A) costs (also known as indirect costs).

  2. Can grant funds be used for child care when employees of grantee institutions attend project-related conferences and meetings?

    Yes. As noted in the answer to the previous question, NIH grant awards provide for reimbursement of actual, allowable costs incurred and are subject to OMB Cost Principles. Generally, travel costs associated with project-relevant conferences are allowable if reasonable and consistent with the institution's established travel policy.

  3. Can institutions use grant funds to provide interim administrative support to researchers to accommodate family care needs?

    Yes, but with rare exception such charges will be recovered as indirect costs rather than a direct charge to a NIH-supported project. Costs associated with administrative support generally must be charged to indirect (F&A) costs. For exceptions, see the applicable OMB Cost Circular at http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/circulars/index.html.

  4. Can institutions use grant funds to provide interim technical support to researchers to accommodate family care needs?

    Technical, project-related support usually can be charged to direct costs. In general, unless the changes indicate a potential change in project scope, NIH grantees are allowed to rebudget within and between budget categories to meet unanticipated needs and to make other types of post-award changes.

    Administrative supplements also can be provided if funds are available. Some NIH Institutes and Centers have developed supplement programs for care givers. See, for example, the NIAID Primary Caregiver Technical Assistance Supplements.

  5. How do NIH-supported institutions cover costs for child care or interim administrative support in their fringe benefit or indirect cost rates?

    The HHS Division of Cost Allocation found that many grantees offer subsidized child care centers and have negotiated costs associated with such centers into their employee benefit rates. No grantee was identified that covers such costs through indirect costs. To clarify, child care support is generally covered as a fringe benefit cost and administrative support is recovered as an indirect cost. Administrative support normally cannot be covered by direct costs for this purpose. Direct charges for administrative costs are allowable only for ‘major projects' as defined in OMB Circular A-21 and the provision of temporary support for this purpose is not included.

  6. Can the final budget period of a federal grant be extended for researchers who take a leave of absence due to care-giving responsibilities?

    Yes. Provisions associated with the extension of the budget period to accommodate the absence of the PD/PI are described in the NIH Grants Policy Statement. Administrative supplements also can be provided if funds are available. NIH also permits career development awardees to reduce the level of effort and if necessary extend their career development awards in the case of pressing family responsibilities.

  7. If a PD/PI is going to be absent for an extended period, can the institution request appointment of an interim PD/PI?

    Yes. Provisions associated with the extended absence of the PD/PI or other senior/key personnel are described in the NIH Grants Policy Statement.

  8. Can NIH extend parental leave available for the birth or adoption of a child?

    Yes, such costs may be charged to NIH research grants, but only if parental leave is available to all employees with comparable appointments at an institution and the charges are appropriately allocated to the project. A separate policy applies to Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA) recipients because they are not considered employees of the grantee or sponsoring institution. Parental leave policies under Kirschstein-NRSA Individual Fellowships and Institutional Research Training Grants permit 60 calendar days of parental leave per year and 15 calendar days of sick leave per year, provided such leave benefits are available to all comparable students and/or postdocs.

  9. Should NIH include a statement on the Notice of Grant Award about discrimination on the basis of sex or ethnicity as a means of providing information related to bias?
    Each NIH grant already includes a statement about discrimination as a term and condition of award. Domestic Institutions must file an Assurance of Compliance Form 690 that details requirements for compliance with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, and the Age Discrimination Act of 1975.

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