For children and young adults with rare diseases, The Children's Inn on the National Institutes of Health (NIH) campus in Bethesda, Maryland, is a place like home. It's a place where they can feel accepted and safe. Staff and other patients understand their long, difficult health struggles.
The Inn provides free housing for the families of young people who are participating in NIH clinical trials and groundbreaking research on rare and little-understood diseases. For these families, coming to NIH is often the only hope for treating their child's condition.
While NIH takes care of patients' medical needs, it's the Inn that tends to their social and emotional needs. "NIH and The Children's Inn have given me reasons to be happy, to feel alive. It brings so much hope and happiness to us kids," one young patient said in a video celebrating the Inn's 30th anniversary.
The Inn offers residents therapeutic, recreational, and educational programs and services. It also has an emergency fund for families experiencing tough times. Another fund helps families pay for therapeutic or academic activities once they return home.
Since 1990, the Inn has served more than 14,500 children, teens, and young adults and their families, from all 50 states and 105 countries. These seriously ill young people have participated in more than 500 clinical studies. The studies involve cancer, bone and growth disorders, mental illness, genetic conditions, and other serious health issues.
When the Inn opened, it had 37 rooms for families. In 2004, a new wing added rooms for 22 more families. It also included another kitchen and more spaces for residents to mingle and enjoy activities. In June 2021, NIH announced a multiyear plan to renovate and expand the Inn.