The Children’s Institute / Image courtesy of The Children’s Institute
The Children’s Institute / Image courtesy of The Children’s Institute

Promoting the well-being of children, meeting special needs

When we opened our doors, our founders made a promise — to provide the highest quality of compassionate and innovative care. Over the years, we have remained steadfast in our commitment to be responsive to the changing and increasingly complex needs of those we serve.

It all began in 1902, when Mary Irwin Laughlin established the Memorial Home for Crippled Children to care for a six-year-old boy whose legs had been severed in a train accident. What started with the care of a single child quickly grew into one of the nation’s leading pediatric care facilities.

By 1919, 75 percent of our patients had been affected by polio. And for nearly 40 years, we provided a haven for children and young adults struggling to overcome the effects of the disease.

In the 1960s, we were serving children with a wide range of disabilities. And in 1968, we became the nation’s first comprehensive rehabilitation center for children to be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities.

During the 1970s, we responded to the emerging needs of an aging population by creating adult inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation services. As we evolved to meet the changing needs of the families we served, we changed our name from the Home for Crippled Children to The Rehabilitation Institute of Pittsburgh.

February 1998 marked another milestone in our evolution. That’s when we transferred our adult services to the UPMC Health System (UPMC), allowing us to reaffirm our original mission — promoting the well-being of children, young people and their families and providing services that meet their special needs. We sold our Squirrel Hill building to UPMC and began renting space for our programs. To better reflect our renewed focus on children, we changed our name to The Children’s Institute.
Today, The Children’s Institute is an independent, non-profit organization providing individualized pediatric services along a broad continuum.

The Children’s Institute is dedicated to promoting the well-being of children, young people and their families and to providing services that meet their special needs.


The vision of The Children’s Institute is to become a center of excellence in the region and in the nation. The hallmark of The Children’s Institute’s legacy will continue to be an unwavering commitment to children with special needs and their families.


Our trustees, employees and volunteers will embody our values in every interaction with patients, students, clients and their families, each other and all other stakeholders. Our values are:

  • Compassion: We provide a loving, caring family-centered environment for children with special needs, their families, and each other. We advocate for children and their families.
  • Integrity: We are committed to organizational and financial accountability, transparency, respect for all, and ethical practices.
  • Excellence: We will be the best at our work and provide the highest quality family-centered care and services to our children, constantly striving to improve.
  • Innovation: We go above and beyond the norm and will be creative in providing services and solving problems.
  • Teamwork and Collaboration: We seek to collaborate and partner in all that we do. We are a team where every person is needed to provide the quality care and services for which we are known. We work together and communicate effectively.
  • Fun: We will provide a positive and friendly environment.
The Children’s Institute was last modified: August 3rd, 2016 by Ryan Coon