Every good and reliable group home provides a living environment that’s physically and emotionally safe for its residents. Note that all residents are valued, nurtured, and treated with dignity and respect. A group home is also expected to be well managed by professionals who are eager to work hard to establish a home-like environment for their residents.

However, no matter how experienced and well organized, emergencies and accidents can happen in any home. Therefore, group homes must have rules and procedures to address every possible emergency, including medical situations, criminal activity, and natural disasters. It is also important that residents receive support that minimizes the risk of harm due to cognitive or behavioral challenges they or other residents exhibit.

Although the rules and regulations can vary across group homes, especially depending on the services and target audience they serve, here are some rules and regulations you can implement in your group home to ensure safety, serenity, and efficiency.

Rules and Regulations to Implement in your Group Home to Ensure Safety and Efficiency

1. Dress Code

Residents are always expected to be clean and modestly attired at all times. All residents are encouraged to wear comfortable and loose-fitting clothing daily. Underwear is necessary with all daily attire and will have to be completely covered at all times.

No halter or mid-drift tops, no tight jeans or tight shorts or see-through clothing. Shorts and skirts must be modest and should not reveal the buttocks when bending over. In addition, all makeup and jewelry are expected to be in good taste. Cleavage will also have to be covered at all times.

Tank tops will also need to be 2-3 finger-widths or wear a shirt over or under it. Only one-piece bathing suits are acceptable attire for swimming. Pajamas and all sleeping attire are to be worn only in the bedrooms. Pajamas, nightgowns, tee shirts, and underwear may be worn as nightwear to bed.

  1. Communication

In every group home, swearing and vulgar language are not tolerated especially in the presence of staff or other residents. Residents are advised to stay positive at all times. When a question or problem arises, residents are encouraged to go one on one to resolve the issue and then ask for assistance if that does not resolve the conflict.

If these 2 steps do not resolve the conflict, a house meeting will be called to handle the problem and the executive director will be present. In addition, speech and communication are expected to be honoring and uplifting. Although every household will have conflict, but it should be resolved as soon as possible. Conflict resolution is a skill that should be learned.

  1. Smoking

In most group homes, smoking is not prohibited but is generally discouraged. All smoking should be done outside in the designated smoking area. The lighting of cigarettes on the walk to the smoking area is also not allowed. No smoking is permitted in the house or van at any time. Residents under the age of 18 are not permitted to smoke. Smoking cessation classes will be provided and encouraged for all residents.

  1. Drugs and Alcohol

Drug and alcohol use is always frowned upon in a group home or on its premises. Possession of such or returning under the influence would warrant a referral to an appropriate rehabilitation facility and could result in dismissal from the program. Drug testing is random and may be done at any time without notice.

  1. Meals & Snacks Restrictions

All residents are expected to be at the main meal around 6:00 pm whether they are hungry or not. This is regarded as family time when the activities of the day and plans for tomorrow are discussed. No snacks should be eaten after 4 pm on weekdays, until after the dinner meal is completed. In addition, food may only be eaten in the kitchen.

Note that no food, candy or drinks, are allowed anywhere else in the house. Only water is allowed in the bedrooms unless special arrangements have been made with group home staff. Food and drinks are also not allowed in the TV room, except for water.

  1. Group Home Activities

Residents of the home are all expected to participate in activities unless given special permission by staff. Note that the only exception to this will be when the resident’s work or school schedule conflicts with the activity, or the resident is sick, or when excused by a doctor’s note. During activities, residents are expected to stay together as a group, under the supervision of staff.

  1. Chores and Household Duties

Depending on the services and target audience of the group home, residents are most often assigned and responsible for household duties that are supervised by the staff or volunteers.  Note that these duties will be assigned weekly and included in each resident’s schedule.

  1. Bathroom Courtesy

Depending on the home setup and available amenities, the resident, if necessary will be assigned a shower schedule. If required, residents with school/work have priority. The staff of the group home should be present to help residents stay on task and adhere to schedules.

The shower schedule is designed to work with daily commitments and will be posted, if necessary. In addition, residents are expected to replace the toilet paper when necessary and also rinse out the tub/shower and sink after each use.

Personal items are to be stored immediately after taking shower. Sanitary napkins and tampons will have to be wrapped in toilet paper and put in a personal wastebasket; not flushed down the toilet or left in the bathroom wastebasket.

Residents are also expected to report any plumbing issues or problems to group home staff. This information should be logged so that repairs can be scheduled by the group home Director.  Residents are also advised to regularly wash their hands, especially each time they use the bathroom.

  1. Job Policy

Residents are allowed to have a job that is between the hours of 9 am and 9 pm if transportation is to be provided by the group home, and 7 am and 10 pm if a resident has their own transportation.

  1. Permission To The Leave The Property

In most group homes, any arrangement to take a resident off the property will have to be made 24 hours in advance. Permission will also have to be given by the staff in charge before the resident leaves the property. Residents are not permitted to leave the property with anyone unless arrangements have been made and approved by the home. Residents are permitted to leave the group home for a day with approved guests only; one day a week. They will have to log the time and destination in their logbook for all outings.

  1. Guests Visiting at the Home

In most group homes, friends and family are allowed to visit. However, residents are advised to check with the group home staff before inviting guests over. Families are always welcome, but all guests, including family, will be expected to make arrangements 24 hours before the visit. This arrangement should be made directly by the visitor with the group home staff. Visitors may visit in the formal living room, dining room, or on the porches; not in the bedrooms.

  1. Bedrooms

In most group homes, there are daily room checks to ensure the bedrooms are kept tidy. Staff reserves the right to call residents back to their rooms if they do not pass inspection. Room checks or searches may be done at anytime a staff deems fit.

Residents are also expected to launder the bedsheets once a week. Note that nothing should be left on top of the beds during the day except for pillows, stuffed animals, or dolls if the resident chooses. Nothing is to be stored under the bed. Beds are to stay in the designated place to avoid fire hazards. Bulletin boards are for pictures and posters. Nothing is to be put directly on the walls.

  1. Linens/Bedding

Bedding will be laundered by residents for occupied rooms and by staff for unoccupied rooms each week. Residents are tasked with making their beds each day. Bath towels will have to be laundered as needed and stored in the linen closet.

Residents have to hang wet towels on the towel rack. Make-up is to be removed with toilet or tissue paper, not linens. Each resident is tasked with laundering (washing, drying, and storing) house laundry before he/she leaves unless they are physically unable.

  1. Meal Planning

In most group homes, mealtime is a time when residents learn vital living skills such as basic nutrition, menu planning, and budgeting. In a bid to ensure the kitchen area stays free of chaos, only the staff, volunteers, and/or residents who are preparing the meal should be in the kitchen during meal preparation. In some homes, meal planning, shopping, prepping, and cooking is every resident’s responsibility.

  1. Meal Preparation

It is important not to allow any dinner meals to be cooked using boxed or packaged ingredients; only recipes from scratch are allowed giving residents the opportunity to learn new skills and plan nutritious meals at a reduced budget. Note that meals will have to be put away immediately and not left out for safety and sanitation purposes.

Each resident is tasked with scrapping, rinsing, and placing their dishes in the dishwasher following the meal. If the dishwasher is full of clean dishes, please unload it. If your dish finishes a load to wash, please turn the dishwasher on.

  1. Grocery Shopping

Depending on the group home, residents are often tasked with meal planning and grocery shopping. Each resident is tasked with purchasing a minimum of $130 in groceries ($200 if with child) each month with their food stamp card allotment, not to exceed 70 percent of their monthly allotment. Receipts for all purchases are needed for bookkeeping purposes.

Note that every food or item kept in community storage becomes community property. To avoid community usage, residents are advised to write their names on their items and place them in the resident fridge. Each resident is assigned a dry goods shelf; personal food and beverage items should be placed on an individual shelf. If this process is not followed, community usage can happen and items will not be replaced.

  1. Personal Belongings

Each resident is expected to write their initials on the tags at the back of all their clothes. If anyone is caught stealing, it could be grounds for their immediate dismissal. Should this become a problem, unannounced room checks of everyone’s personal areas will be made.

Residents are not permitted to borrow or lend anything. If items are loaned, the group home won’t be responsible for any loss or damage to these items. If a resident has a need, he or she is expected to notify staff of their needs, so that arrangements can be made to provide them with this item.

Ideally, residents will be supplied with the following items: shampoo, soap, toothpaste, and deodorant. All these will be stored in a cabinet designated by the director. Staff can replace these items after being shown the empty container by a resident.

  1. Vehicle Policy

In most group homes, personal vehicles are allowed but only by residents who have a valid driver’s license, a current registration, and insurance. Proof of all these has to be presented to the home staff before any resident can drive and/or park a vehicle at the group home.

  1. Personal computers are not allowed

In most group homes, computers will be available for supervised use and learning opportunities. Personal internet usage will be determined on an individual basis. Also, note that text messaging is prohibited between staff and residents at all times.

  1. Telephone Usage

Residents are allowed to be in possession of their cell phones between the hours of 9:00 am and 9:00 pm Monday through Thursday of each week. However, on weekends they may keep their cell phones at all times beginning Friday at 2:00 pm through Sunday at 9:00 pm. In addition, residents are not to use their personal cell phones for anything other than the necessary calls.

Residents are not allowed to loan out their phones for a housemate to use. Also, note that residents have assigned phone times for personal calls when necessary. Any personal call made before their assigned hour will have to be cleared with the staff in charge.

Business calls can be made during the day, at any time. Any long-distance calls should be made collected or charged to a calling card; most group homes won’t assume the costs of long-distance calls. If these rules are not followed and residents disregard the telephone usage guideline, privileges could be revoked for one or all household residents.

  1. Entertainment

Depending on the group home, the TV may have to stay off until 5:00 pm and will also have to be turned off at 10:00 pm on weekdays and midnight on Friday and Saturday. Residents are also expected to use discretion while choosing TV programs.

The TV is a community entertainment center and programs need to be in good taste for the viewing pleasure of all residents, and in accordance with the goals and objectives of the home. Residents will have to request permission to turn on the TV before 5 pm.

All chores and personal cleanup are expected to be completed before this request could be granted. Only “G” or “PG” rated movies are allowed in the house. “PG-13” may be shown with staff approval. Exceptions to this can only be granted by the staff in charge or the Program Manager.

  1. Departure

All personal belongings will have to go with residents upon departure. Any belongings that are left behind without making special arrangements with group home staff, will be considered not wanted by the resident and will be discarded or given away.

On the day of departure, a staff person will assist the resident with packing, making sure all their personal items go with them. The resident will be asked to return the items on their inventory sheet, that were added while they were at the group home.

  1. Medical and Personal Information

Every medical arrangement and special concerns are to be made by staff if the resident is under the age of 18, and every medication will be kept in the medication closet. All bills incurred that are not covered by insurance, Medicaid, or other resources are the responsibility of the resident and/or her guardian.

  1. Behavior Management Policy

In most group homes, the following actions will result in a warning (write-up), corrective action, including referral to appropriate agencies, and/or dismissal.

  • Violating a no-contact order
  • Staff verbal abuse
  • Association with known drug users
  • Dirty urinalysis, possession of drugs, and/or being under the influence of any intoxicant
  • Not being where residents said they were going to be
  • Drug-a-log (talking about and/or glorifying drug or alcohol use)
  • Violating house rules/guidelines
  1. Physical Violence Of Any Type Will Not Be Tolerated

Violation of this rule could result in assault charges being filed. Also, note that this rule extends to staff members too. There is no tolerance for disrespectful treatment, threatening behavior, rudeness, verbal abuse, obscene language, deliberate harassment, causing division, or ganging up on any resident or staff. Any of these actions will result in a warning (write-up), corrective action, and/or dismissal.