Actually, if you read the config file during the execution of a "PerlRequire" or "PerlModule" (or <Perl> ?) directive, then it will be stored in the parent process and hence *will* be shared amongst the child processes.
That's also your chance to do any setting up that you need to do as root, e.g. creating new directories and "chown"ing them.
So you could have a read_config.pl in /etc/apache (or wherever) that simply reads the config data and drops it into your handler's package. Then just PerlRequire read_config.pl and there you go!
The disadvantage with doing this, of course, is that the configuration file is not reread simply by doing apachectl graceful
. Which may not be what you want.