• Reference Material
  • December 17, 2015

Speak Now for Kids Family Advocacy Day Travel Tips

Discuss Travel Plans With the Family Ahead of Time

If the family accompanying your hospital is traveling with a child with special health care needs, it’s important to remember that this might be the first time they’ve traveled with their child. Before departing on the trip, discuss the details of the travel plans to determine any challenges that might arise.

Challenges such as use of a wheelchair or specialized medical equipment may be obvious. However other situations to consider include special dietary needs or the child’s reaction during the security screening process at the airport. You will need to work with the family to communicate any special dietary needs and develop a plan to calm the child in the event that the screening process or any other aspects of travel are upsetting to her. If a child is sensitive to stimulation or loud noises, remind the family to bring earmuffs or plugs.

Be sure to brief the family on travel regulations, regardless of whether you’re flying or traveling by train. This briefing should include what can and cannot be carried and what documentation is recommended in order to bring medications and other equipment on board. 

We recommend you review TSA regulations for children with disabilities or Amtrak recommendations prior to traveling with children who have special needs.

Getting to Washington

  • Whether you are traveling by plane or train, be sure to allow ample time for check-in to prevent complications. This may mean arriving in advance of the recommended arrival time. 
  • If flying, contact your airline in advance if you think you’ll need extra assistance during the security or check-in process. 
  • Make sure all medical equipment is properly labeled with name, address and phone number.
  • Recommend that families pack an activity or comfort item to occupy their child’s time, especially for long travel periods.

Getting Around Washington

In an effort to simplify travel to Capitol Hill in light of current security restrictions, Children’s Hospital Association will not be providing bus transportation to the Hill. Taxi cabs are readily available at the hotel and there is a Metro station one block from the hotel. Keep in mind that the District of Columbia requires all children 8 years of age and under to be properly seated in an infant, toddler or child booster seat. We recommend that hospitals keep this in mind when selecting families to travel to DC, since the Children’s Hospital Association does not provide booster seats for families traveling to Washington.

If you choose to bring a family with children under the age of 8, you have three choices for transportation to and from Capitol Hill:

  1. Travel with a booster seat or car seat to install in taxi cabs, remembering that you will have to carry the booster seat around Capitol Hill during your meetings.
  2. Plan to take the District's public transportation system, the Metro (which is handicap accessible and has stops near both the House and Senate office buildings). 
  3. Hire a private driver, allowing you to keep the booster seat installed in the car for the entire day.

Children’s Hospital Association will coordinate transportation to and from Capitol Hill for those families with a child who requires wheelchair accessible transport. CHA staff will reach out to you to hold a conference call prior to the event, and please use this time to let us know of these needs well in advance of your visit. 

It is important to note that the arranged wheelchair accessible vans have limited occupancy for additional travelers – typically they can accommodate up to three occupants plus the wheelchair. Participants using this service that are part of a group larger than three occupants will need to split their group for travel to and from Capitol Hill.  A contact name and number of your handicap accessible van driver will be provided to you and your family the morning you go to the Hill.

To make proper handicap accessible arrangements to and from the airport, please consider contacting Super Shuttle at 202-296-6662 or 800-258-3826. This transportation is not arranged by Children’s Hospital Association. 

Checking Out a Wheelchair on Capitol Hill

For children that do not require a wheelchair full time, but that may experience fatigue and would like to check out a wheelchair on Capitol Hill, you may do so by contacting your legislative offices ahead of time to reserve one.

Visiting the U.S. Capitol and Congressional Offices

Outside food and beverages may not be brought into the Capitol. Cafeterias or food courts can be found in the basements of the Rayburn and Longworth House Office Buildings, the Dirksen Senate Office Building and the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center.

A list of wheelchair accessible entrances to the Capitol and House and Senate office buildings is below. A map of the Capitol grounds is available online
  • Capitol – the South (House side), North (Senate side), and East (Visitor Center) entrances of the building. Information on wheelchair access is available online
  • Cannon House Office Building – on New Jersey Ave SE, south of the terrace at intersection with Independence Avenue
  • Longworth House Office Building – main entrance, Independence and New Jersey Avenues
  • Rayburn House Office Building – main entrance, horseshoe drive off South Capitol Street
  • Ford House Office Building – entrance on 3rd Street SE near the intersection with D Street SW
  • Russell Senate Office Building – Delaware entrance on ground level closest to Constitution Avenue
  • Dirksen Senate Office Building – 1st Street and C Street entrances
  • Hart Senate Office Building – 2nd Street entrance

Medical Units on Capitol Hill

If you need minor medical attention while on Capitol Hill, you can visit one of the Congressional Health Units. They are located in the following buildings:

  • Cannon House Office Building - Room 110 - (202) 225-3470
  • Longworth House Office Building - Room - 1204 (202) 225-2500
  • Rayburn House Office Building - Room B-344 (202) 225-7131
  • Hart Senate Office Building - Room 153 (202) 226-4830
  • Capitol Visitor Center - Room HVC-100 (202) 225-5442
  • U.S. Capitol Building - Room H-166 (202) 225-5421
Our goal is to ensure that your trip to Washington provides a positive experience for both your hospital and the family you bring. Please contact Vikki Sara at (202) 753-5357, if you have any questions or if we can further assist you in your travel plans.
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