Frequently Asked Questions

Does Ronald McDonald House provide medical services?
No. The Ronald McDonald House in Birmingham is strictly a home-away-from-home for families of sick or injured children. The House allows family members to remain close to a child during his or her hospitalization in Birmingham. Increasingly, children who are receiving outpatient care, during all or some of their stay in Birmingham, also stay at the House with their families, if it is safe and appropriate for them to reside in a non-clinical, communal setting. (Arrange Your Stay)

Can families other than those of pediatric cancer patients stay at the House?
Yes! The Birmingham Ronald McDonald House is available to the family of any sick or injured child from outside of Jefferson County who is actively receiving medical care from any Birmingham-area medical provider. When the House is full, priority may be given to families with the most seriously ill children and to those from furthest away. (Guest Information/Policies and Eligibility Requirements)

My 17 year old daughter is coming to Birmingham alone for medical care. Can she stay at the Ronald McDonald House?
No. A guest must be at least 18 years old to stay at the House without adult supervision by a parent, legal guardian or legal spouse (age 18 or older). If a person under the age of 18 will be checking into the House with an adult other than a parent, legal guardian or spouse (for example, with a family friend, grandparent or other relative), RMHCA must have written permission from the parent or legal guardian. (Guest Information/Policies and Eligibility Requirements)

Can families of hospitalized adults stay at the House?
No. Ronald McDonald Houses only serve families of pediatric patients, age 18 or younger.

Can I make a reservation to stay at the House?
To stay at the House, you first must be formally referred by the hospital or other medical provider that will be caring for your child. Because we do not know how long other families will need to stay, we cannot take "reservations." Once your health care provider has referred you, we will put your family on the waiting list for the expected date of your arrival. Please call the day before you plan to check-in to confirm availability. Also, your room will be held for only 2 hours after your scheduled check-in time, unless you call to tell us that you are delayed.

Is there a charge to stay at the House?
Yes, we ask each family to pay $10 per night for the first 21 nights, and $5 per night beginning on night 22 of a stay. (Note: It costs RMHCA more than $65 a night to provide services to a family. The difference is made up from fundraising and other revenue.) No family will ever be turned away due to inability to pay.

Are there "smoking rooms?"
No! Smoking is not allowed anywhere in the House.

Does McDonald's pay for all the operations of the Ronald McDonald House in Birmingham?
On average, each year the Birmingham House gets about 5% of its revenue from Ronald McDonald House Charities headquarters in Oak Brook, Illinois. More than 88% of the funds required to operate the Ronald McDonald House comes from local revenue sources, including special events, grants, pop tab recycling and support from McDonald's Restaurants in Birmingham and north-central Alabama. "Local revenue" also includes guest fees, which represent approx. 6% of total revenue. Finally, RMHCA is not state or federally funded. (How we are funded )

How can I help?
Lots of ways! Sign up for our e-newsletter.  Each month we send you the latest news regarding the families staying at the House and events to help support RMHCA. You can also check out our "How Can I Help?" Section for more info. 

I hear that "pop tab" collection programs are a myth. Do you really get money for pop tabs?
RMHCA's recycling program is REAL. This year, we expect to make $20,000 by recycling pop tabs. Note, we are available to accept pop tab donations 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

How many families stay at the House each year?
On average, over 1,000 guest families stay at the House each year. ( What We Do and Why)

What is the average length of stay?
In 2013, the average stay was 16 nights. UAB and Children's Hospitals are both offering more specialized services that allow residents of Alabama to utilize their services instead of travelling thousands of miles for transplants, heart surgery and more. These services require longer hospital stays for patients, so family stays are getting longer.

Do you have a maximum length of time families are allowed to stay?
Generally, RMHCA will review Guest stays once per month. After 90 consecutive days, a guest will be asked to check-out for a period of 7 days.