Group homes are residential facilities housing a small number of individuals with some sort of chronic problem. They’re usually located in a community to soften the feeling of being institutionalized. The home should be indistinguishable from other dwellings in the area. While the more pressing needs of girls in a group home must be addressed, a feeling of safety and security is essential. Ideally, the home is a transition for the residents from the issues that created their unstable circumstances to a stable future.
Check your locality to see if group homes are allowed and what licensing you’ll need. There may be requirements for the size of the home and the lot it sits on, the staffing ratio and what types of services you must provide.
Hire professional staff. You will need a mental health specialist, a liaison to your local Department of Social Services, a health professional with experience in substance abuse and an administrative staff that can handle Medicare claims.
Set up an assessment team that will go over each girl’s case before she is accepted into the home. Some people will have needs that cannot be met by your facilities. Others with mental health problems may take longer to adjust to the home.
Create a home-like atmosphere. Serve meals in a common eating room at regular times. Make sure there are adults on hand at all times to handle minor issues as they arise. Assign chores and provide outdoor facilities for play and exercise. Set routines like visiting hours for parents and siblings.
Allow potential residents to visit the home before they’re accepted. It’s as important that they will feel comfortable there as it is that your assessment team believes they will be successful in the home.
Have systems in place for when residents are ready to transition. Children may be returned to their parents or foster care. The disabled may move on to independent living. Girls in the justice system may need assistance in job training and placement.
Employ nursing assistants if the residents are physically or mentally disabled and need constant care. Hire overnight staff to prevent chronic runaways from leaving the home and to supervise residents that may be a danger to others.
Check with your local jurisdiction to see if individuals can be licensed to operate group homes, or if only charitable organizations or nonprofits are allowed.