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If you are contemplating plans to open a small group home, there are important considerations to address. Each state has specific requirements for operating a group home within the developmental services system of care.
During the planning process, it is essential to have a comprehensive understanding of both federal and state licensing and funding requirements. Once the group home is in operation, it is incumbent upon the operator to review and align with any group home compliance updates.
What is a Group Home?
Group homes are comprised of unrelated adults who reside together in a private home situated in a residential neighborhood. Group homes may also referred to as adult family homes or board and care homes.
Group homes provide structured and supervised housing for individuals with complex health needs. These needs might include mental health conditions, addiction recovery, physical or intellectual disabilities, or age-related issues. There are group homes that provide foster care for children and adolescents, which are referred to as residential childcare communities.
Small group homes, or homes that house no more than six residents, are overseen by a minimum of one trained caregiver 24/7. The homes are monitored by the state, which ensures that compliance measures are being adhered to.
Which Agencies Regulate Group Home Compliance?
Privately operated group homes are under the jurisdiction of their state and local zoning laws, codes, and licensure. These agencies work in tandem with federal agencies and are beholden to legal statutes that involve housing for disabled individuals. There are also municipal codes that can affect the location of a group home.
The federal agencies tied to group home oversight include:
- The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)
- Office of Inspector General (OIG)
- Government Accountability Office (GAO)
- Department of Justice (DOJ)
- Inspectors General
The various agencies provide guidelines and requirements that must be held in compliance in order to operate the group home.
Features to Look for in a Group Home
Group homes have various features depending on the type of services they offer and for which group. These groups include mental health housing, sober living housing, housing for those with disabilities, foster care, or assisted living for the elderly.
Here is a list of general features to include in a group home setting:
- Licensure. Are all state and local licenses up to date? Is the group home in compliance with federal mandates?
- Environment. The physical appearance of the home is of utmost importance. The home should be clean, well maintained, and comfortable, and not institutional.
- Staffing. Staffing needs should be appropriate for the type of care being provided.
- Setting. Select a location for the group home within a safe, secure neighborhood. The home should be secured as well, with outdoor fencing and other safety measures in place.
- Services. Define the services provided for the residents, such as caregiving, transportation, food services, housekeeping, and enrichment activities.
Group Home Compliance Mandates
Operating a group home comes with many compliance mandates. Governed by the state, in response to federal agencies, the group homes must remain in compliance to avoid costly penalties.
Group homes must meet the following requirements:
- Housing quality standards under Department of Housing and Development (HUD) require that the group home meet various thresholds. These include:
- Sanitary items such as functional plumbing and hot and cold water
- Food preparation and service areas, with functional refrigeration and cooking appliances.
- A structurally sound building that has been maintained and poses no safety threat to residents.
- A location that is not subject to hazards, excessive noise, or rodent infestation.
- HHS and state Departments of Social Services require compliance regarding fire safety, medication control and monitoring, and emergency medical procedures. These agencies also govern the licensing requirements of the clinicians, such as requiring that a psychologist be licensed by the state medical board.
- Group homes operate under the auspices of various state and federal mandates. These regulations apply to both the clients and the employees of the group home. For example, there are minimum wage requirements for the employees of the group home, under the Fair Labor Standards Act.
Opening a Group Home and Maintaining Compliance
The decision to operate a group home requires all the same considerations involved in any business start-up. The owner must consider financing, location, organizational chart, and marketing. In addition to these basics, opening a group home will also involve multiple levels of state licensure and certification.
Prior to opening a group home, compliance with the various agencies and licensing mandates are required steps. State licensing ensures a patient’s wellbeing is protected while enrolled in a group home setting. This involves a great deal of paperwork to be completed in a timely manner before the home can accept residents.
However, after the group home has begun operation, the facility will be required to maintain ongoing compliance. The operator is expected to keep up with any new laws and updates. This is a time consuming endeavor that often requires a dedicated staff member or a compliance consultant.
Consultants can focus on compliance for the group home, keeping the home aligned with all the current state requirements. These contractors can be utilized as much or as little as the owner/operator needs. This provides a viable addition to the staff without the need to hire a dedicated employee to oversee compliance.
Circa Behavioral Health Solutions Provides Group Home Compliance Support
Circa Behavioral Health Solutions provides professional consulting for individuals operating group homes. Our expert support assists the client in achieving complete state and federal compliance for group homes. If you are licensed to operate a group home, our consultants can assist you with compliance adherence and updates. Call us today at (888) 458-6619.