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Children's Inn at NIH

A Place Like Home

The Children's Inn is a free, supportive "home" to sick children and their families as they receive groundbreaking medical treatment from the NIH in hopes of finding a cure.


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What specifically do you do?

The Children’s Inn, located in Bethesda, MD, meets the needs of children and families participating in groundbreaking research at the National Institutes of Health. It is a caring “place like home” where children can experience a sense of normalcy during a difficult time.  Our services include:


We provide housing for families and their children who are participating in pediatric research at the National Institutes of Health’s Clinical Center. The Inn’s buildings are open and operational 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

Resident Services

Our resident services are designed to support families in their natural care-giving roles, while promoting family living and community support. To facilitate mutual support among families, we provide community kitchens, reflection spaces, outdoor play equipment and much more.

Family Support Services

With more than 1,600 therapeutic, educational, and diversionary programs each year, The Inn strives to ease the stressors of families. Opportunities for fun include Tuesday night Bingo, excursions to local restaurants, and tours around the Washington, D.C. area.

How will this make a difference?

Supporting The Children’s Inn will make a difference for a child’s entire family. Our philosophy is that families play a pivotal role in the lives of their sick children and we work hard to treat the child and family as one.  When a child is suffering, their entire support system feels it too.

At the Inn, siblings get special attention with programs just for them. Some of these programs help them understand what’s going on with their brother or sister and some are just for fun.  We recognize that parents and caregivers are the glue holding families together and they need rest too. So in addition to weekly shopping, a help yourself pantry and easy connections to community life, we offer time and space for reflection, self-care and relaxation.

How is your work different from that of other, similar charities?

For so many children participating in clinical trials, the National Institute of Health is their last, best hope. That is why when families come to The Inn we focus on the little problems, so families can focus on the treatment plans for their child.


The NIH makes discoveries that change the world, but none of these breakthroughs would be possible without the people who drive them, our brave children.  By providing “a place like home” at no cost, families at The Inn can easily participate in clinical trials at the NIH and be a part of the cure.


These trials have discovered the bone marrow transplants that cure sickle cell disease, treatments that make AIDS a chronic condition instead of a death sentence, and the advent of chemotherapy and immunotherapy that physicians use today.  The children who courageously participate, the families who support and advocate for them, and the clinicians and staff who are their champions and allies all make up the community that The Children’s Inn supports.

For so many children participating in clinical trials, the National Institute of Health is their last, best hope. That is why when families come to The Inn we focus on the little problems, so families can focus on the treatment plans for their child.

What have you accomplished?

Since The Children’s Inn opened, nearly 13,000 seriously ill children and their families have made 60,000 visits to this “place like home.”

Between 1999 and 2003, the NIH experienced an increase in funding for pediatric research, which led to more children enrolled in these groundbreaking studies. The result was a higher demand for rooms at The Inn. The number of nights when families had to be turned away from The Inn tripled during this time period. NIH clinicians, Inn staff and the Board of Directors soon realized they needed more room. In May of 2004, The Inn opened a new wing that doubled the overall square footage and added more amenities and common spaces to create an even more comfortable “place like home” for 22 additional families. The Merck Foundation provided the lead capital gift with other generous donors supporting the expansion.

In 2010, The Inn renewed the promise of its mission by opening The Woodmont House, a home adjacent to the NIH campus designed to help up to five families at a time transition into the community. These families have children who are no longer in the acute phase of their illnesses, yet still require regular treatment at the NIH. Families stay for free at The Woodmont House and may participate in all of The Inn’s activities.

How can I be sure you’ll use my money wisely?

During our 25 years of service, The Children’s Inn has taken seriously the responsibility to operate in a fiscally responsible manner, which we believe is vital to providing quality services to our residents.

We proudly display the Better Business Bureau Charity Seal, having met all 20 rigorous “Standards for Charity Accountability”, and have been recognized by Charity Navigator since 2009, which indicates we fulfill our mission in a fiscally responsible way.  Additionally, we were honored in 2010 as a finalist for the Washington Post Award for Excellence in nonprofit management, that includes outstanding achievement in financial management, risk management, and organizational planning.

The Inn also has over 200 volunteers from the community that help in every operational aspect. In 2015, volunteers provided 22,000 hours of dedicated service to The Inn, equating to 11 full time employees. This helps us keep our general and administrative costs low. Our audited financial statements are available upon request. In addition, we maintain a donor privacy policy to protect the privacy of our donors and their special relationship with The Children’s Inn.