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What kinds of childcare expenses can be reimbursed under a Dependent Care Assistance Program (DCAP)?

Several conditions are required for an expense to be reimbursable under a dependent care assistance program (DCAP), also known as a dependent care FSA:

  1. The employer's plan document must permit the reimbursement.
  2. The employee must incur the expense to enable the employee and the employee's spouse to be gainfully employed.
  3. The expense must be for the care of one or more qualifying individuals, defined as:
    1. A dependent child who was under age 13 when the care was provided.
    2. A spouse or other dependent who isn't physically or mentally able to care for himself or herself and lived with the employee for more than half the year.

Examples of dependent care expenses that may be reimbursable under a DCAP are:

  • Babysitters, if the sitter is not a dependent of the employee or a spouse.
  • Au pairs or nannies who are paid household employees providing care in the employee's home.
  • Before- and after-school care.
  • Child care centers, which are usually separate facilities and not in a residence.
  • Nursery schools and preschools, which focus on  care and well-being, not on education.
  • Day camp, if the purpose of sending the child is for the care and well-being of the child. For example, the child goes to day camp instead of the usual day care center.
  • Elder care costs relating to the care of a dependent adult who is unable to care for himself or herself if such expenses are not for medical services, if the elderly person is a qualifying individual, and in the case of services provided outside the employee's household, if the person regularly spends at least eight hours each day in the employee's home. 

Examples of expenses that are not eligible include:

  • Child care while the employee is not at work or attending school.
  • Cost for a child to attend kindergarten or a higher grade.
  • Camp when the child stays overnight.
  • Payments to a person the employee claims as a tax dependent on a federal income tax return.
  • Enrichment classes and summer school.
  • Nursing home and long-term care facilities.


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