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Family-Friendly Initiatives

Being able to balance work and family life is important for everyone, including biomedical and behavioral researchers. Here are some of the ways in which NIH helps our recipient institutions foster family-friendly environments for the NIH-supported workforce.

Funding for Family Needs


NIH supports researchers taking time off to care for a family member or in the event of a personal disability. NIH grant awards (with the exception of Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Awards - see below) allow for reimbursement of actual, allowable costs incurred for child care, parental leave, or additional technical support provided such costs are incurred under formally-established institutional policies that are consistently applied regardless of the source of support. For more information on using grant funds, see the frequently asked questions below.

National Research Service Awards (NRSA)

Trainees and fellows may receive stipends for up to 60 calendar days (equivalent to 8 work weeks) of parental leave per year for the adoption or the birth of a child. Either parent is eligible for parental leave. The NRSA trainee or fellow is required to provide advance notice to their recipient institution and their supervisor according to their institution’s policy, and the use of parental leave must be approved by the training program director. For more information, see policy notice NOT-OD-18-154 and NOT-OD-16-105.

Childcare Costs

NIH recognizes that the high cost of childcare impacts graduate students and post-doctorates funded through NRSA fellowships, and their ability to successfully complete their training and fully participate in the extramural research workforce. Full-time, active NIH-funded NRSA fellowship positions and predoctoral or postdoctoral NIH-supported institutional research training award appointments are eligible to receive $3,000 per budget period for costs for childcare provided by a licensed childcare provider (NOT-OD-24-116). Childcare costs are permitted for dependent children living in the eligible fellow’s home from birth under the age of 13, or children who are disabled and under age 18. Childcare costs do not apply to elder or non-child dependent care costs.

See  and Childcare Costs FAQs for more details.

Career Development Awards

Awardees may request adjustments to their appointment status or percent effort for personal or family situations such as parental leave, child care, elder care, medical conditions, or a disability. For example, awardees may request to reduce their appointment to less than full-time (but not less than three-quarter time) for a period not to exceed 12 continuous months during the award project period. For more information, see policy notice NOT-OD-18-156 and the applicable leave policies in the Grants Policy Statement.

Supporting Re-entry through Supplements

Postdocs or faculty members who have taken time off to care for children or attend to other responsibilities and who want to bring their research skills and knowledge up-to-date are eligible to apply for these supplements. The commitment can be full or part-time, and at completion, it is anticipated that the individual would be competitive for a career development award, a research award, or some other form of independent research support. For more information, see the funding opportunity PA-18-592.

Administrative Supplements to Promote Research Continuity and Retention

NIH is piloting two programs to promote research continuity and retention of eligible investigators facing qualifying life events (e.g., pregnancy, childbirth, adoption) at vulnerable career stages. The programs provide administrative supplements up to $50,000 in direct costs, plus applicable F&A. Flexible use of supplemental funds is highly encouraged to support successful research within the scope of the parent project, including supported effort of additional personnel, computational services, supplies and equipment to sustain the investigator’s research during a critical life event.

  • Notice of Special Interest: Administrative Supplements to Promote Research Continuity and Retention of NIH Mentored Career Development (K) Award Recipients and Scholars (NOT-OD-20-054)
  • Notice of Special Interest (NOSI): Administrative Supplement for Continuity of Biomedical and Behavioral Research Among First-Time Recipients of NIH Research Project Grant Awards (NOT-OD-20-055)

Other Flexibilities

Providing Opportunities to Describe Delays in Scientific Productivity

In 2011, NIH modified the biosketch guidelines for NIH grant applications to allow explanations of how personal circumstances may have delayed an individual’s transition to an independent career or reduced their scientific productivity. See policy notices NOT-OD-11-045 and NOT-OD-11-050 for more details.

Extending Early Stage Investigator Eligibility

Early stage investigators (ESI) who have experienced a lapse in their research or research training during the 10-year ESI period can request an extension of their ESI eligibility. Generally, the period of extension is equivalent to the time away. See policy notice NOT-OD-19-125 for more details.

Description of Child Care Offerings Required in Applications for NIH Conference Grant Support

For applicants writing a conference grant, they must include in their application plans to identify resources for child care and other types of family care at the conference site to allow individuals with family care responsibilities to attend (see section IV of the funding opportunity PA-20-207). 

FAQ Icon Frequently Asked Questions