The requirements for opening a group home in the United States will vary especially since individual states — not the federal government — regulate these facilities. In addition, there are different types of group homes and they all have varying requirements, and these requirements will also differ from one state to another.
Some common state requirements include the unit and staffing requirements, square feet requirements, or even how many residents are allowed per room. A group home or daycare facility can mean various things, however, it is more or less a facility that makes available twenty-four-hour non-medical care in a structured environment.
Note that anyone looking to start up a group home will need to stay current on local and federal regulatory requirements to ensure their facility remains compliant. If you intend to start a group home, it is imperative you extensively consider the needs of your community and how a group home would improve the quality of life of those who live or stay there.
Depending on the state where you intend to start your group home, you may only need a business permit or license. Other licenses and certifications required may include a home care license, CPR certification, food handler’s license, or nursing certification.
Anyone looking to start a group home is advised to carry out extensive research into the needs of the community they want to serve. It is also necessary they create a working relationship with the supervisory agencies in their state and local environment.
Common Requirements for Group Homes in the United States
Aside from the fact that requirements and regulations vary by state, there are numerous types of group homes in the United States. Have it in mind that the audience you intend to cater to will most likely influence the regulations and requirements you are expected to comply with. Here are some common requirements to consider when looking to start a group home in the United States.
Table of Content
- Staffing and Administrators
- Square Feet Requirements
- Sanitary Requirements
- Site and Neighborhood
- Structure and Material
- Activities and Amenities
- High School Diploma or GED
- General Business License
- First Aid and CPR Certifications
- Home Care License
- Food Handler Certification
- Health and Safety Permits
- Zoning Permits
Staffing and Administrators
An administrator is tasked with the general management, operation, and service offered in the group home. The administrator of a group home is expected to know the nature, needs, development, and management of programs for individuals in their facility.
The administrator must specify training requirements for direct contact personnel. They will also have to participate in an orientation in areas like signs and symptoms of disease and illness, communicable disease control, resident basic health and behavioral needs, residence routines, and emergency procedures.
In most places in the United States, group homes cannot do business without first obtaining a license from the Division of Health Services. To get a license, these homes may have to submit a certificate of need that notes the number of beds they will provide.
If at some point it needs more beds, they can also seek approval from the Division. Some states also mandate group homes to obtain construction approval by submitting two sets of construction plans and passing a construction inspection.
Once the facility is constructed, the home may have to submit an application and an application fee to the Division. The Division will then carry out a background check on the facility administrator before issuing a license.
Square Feet Requirements
While this requirement will vary based on the sort of audience you intend to cater to, most often, each resident in a group home is expected to have at least 80 square feet of useable living space in multiple resident rooms and at least 100 square feet of useable living space for single rooms.
Howbeit, variances may be permitted in most states in the United States as long as the facility provides written evidence that the variations are in accordance with residents’ special needs and will not adversely affect residents’ health or safety.
Group homes are generally expected to have a bathroom in the unit. The unit will need to have a flush toilet that can be used in privacy, a fixed basin with hot and cold running water; and a shower or bathtub with hot and cold running water.
Have in mind that these facilities will also need to be in proper operating condition, and must be adequate for personal cleanliness and the disposal of human waste. Group homes will also have to leverage an approvable public or private disposal system.
Depending on the audience it caters to, the home may contain private or common sanitary facilities. However, the facilities will need to be sufficient in number so that they need not be shared by more than four residents of the group home. These facilities in the group home will also have to be readily accessible to and usable by residents, including persons with disabilities.
Site and Neighborhood
While zoning laws will vary from one state to another, note that the site and neighborhood you choose for your group home will be expected to be reasonably free from disturbing noises and reverberations and other hazards to the health, safety, and general welfare of the residents.
Your location of choice should not be prone to serious adverse environmental conditions, natural or manmade, such as dangerous walks or steps, instability, flooding, poor drainage, septic tank back-ups, sewage hazards or mudslides, abnormal air pollution, smoke or dust, excessive noise, vibrations or vehicular traffic, excessive accumulations of trash, vermin or rodent infestation, or fire hazards. Your group home must be located in a residential setting.
Structure and Material
Regardless of your location, group homes are expected to be structurally sound to avert any threat to the health and safety of the residents and to safeguard the residents from the environment.
This simply entails that ceilings, walls, and floors should not have any serious defects like a severe bulging or leaning, loose surface materials, severe buckling or noticeable movement under walking stress, missing parts, or other significant damage. In addition, the roof structure of your group home will have to be strong, and the roof must be weather tight.
Aside from that, the exterior or wall structure and exterior wall surface should not have any serious defects like adverse leaning, buckling, sagging, cracks or large holes, loose siding, or other serious damage. The condition and equipment of interior and exterior stairways, halls, porches, walkways, etc., are expected not to present a danger of tripping or falling.
Activities and Amenities
Group homes are expected to always offer activities that are designed to suit the individual needs and interests of residents. In most places, group homes are mandated to carry out medical examinations for all admittees before allowing them to live in the group home.
The facilities also must provide three nutritional meals per day, and snacks must be available to residents who require greater daily caloric intake.
In the state of Florida, for instance, group homes are expected to disclose to potential residents their admission and continued residency criteria, residency charges, personal care services, and charges, nursing services provided and their charges, social and leisure activities, and accommodation of special diets, among other things.
What Certifications are Needed to Open a Group Home
Truth be told, there are no mandatory certifications required to start a group home in the United States. While this requirement can vary from one state to another, here are basic certifications to consider;
High School Diploma or GED
To start a group home in the United States, you will be expected to at least have your high school diploma or your GED. While this may not even matter if you are starting a group home for teens or an assisted living home, have it in mind that you will need to have your basic education completed.
Therefore, if you did not complete high school, then consider obtaining a GED before trying to acquire any other licenses or certifications needed to open a group home.
General Business License
Just as was noted above, you can’t start a group home in the United States without adequate licensing. However, have it in mind that the licenses you need to run this business will vary from one state to another.
For instance, group homes for children in California are licensed by the state Department of Social Services (CDSS), while the Agency for Health Care Administration or the Department of Children and Families carries out this duty in Florida.
Nonetheless, it is recommended you contact your local (such as county) department of health, human services, social services, or whatever other unit seems most likely to cater to the operation of group homes in your area.
First Aid and CPR Certifications
Anyone looking to start or work in a group home is expected to obtain CPR and First Aid certifications. In the United States, there are classes you can take via the American Red Cross that will ensure you and your staff get ready to start and manage your group home.
In addition, you can leverage online entities that offer this sort of training too. You just have to make sure that the certification agency you choose will be recognized by your state’s government.
Home Care License
You may need to obtain a home care license to start and manage a group home in the United States. A home Care License helps to regulate certain issues surrounding the care-taking of other people, especially those with special needs.
In the United States, the provision of this type of license may involve factors like building safety, the number of residents that can be cared for, health-related topics such as immunization and cleanliness, nutritional guidelines, supervisory expectations, and training requirements.
Food Handler Certification
Since group homes offer food and care to residents, you may need to obtain this certification when looking to start your group home. This certificate is awarded to qualified food handlers who must have undergone training under an accredited body.
The certification will include a course for you and your employees. Note that the requirement is primarily determined based on what other licenses are held by the group home professionals, and whether or not food is prepared on-site.
Health and Safety Permits
In the United States, your group home facility, whether for teens or houses special needs residents, will need to meet certain standards that have been put in place to ensure residents have a good and safe place to receive care. In some states, you will have to contend with routine inspections and once there is anything that doesn’t meet up the standards that have been set, you’ll have to fix it before you will be granted your health and safety permit.
You will also be expected to find a suitable location that meets licensing and inspection requirements. Ensure to contact the zoning department in your city to find out if you can open a group home in that area.
Also familiarize yourself with local zoning regulations, to ensure you know where you are legally permitted to build a group home. In addition, look into local and state requirements for group home facilities; in Connecticut, for example, there are stipulated square footage requirements for resident bedroom sizes.
Starting a group home is, without doubt, a rewarding career especially since you will be helping people in need. However, complying with the requirements in your state and city remains the first step toward establishing a group home. You are also expected to consider the space, infrastructure, and staff you need to efficiently run the home activities.
You will also need to stay current on local and federal regulatory changes to guarantee that your home remains compliant. Aside from that, your homes must strive to ensure that all facilities are adequately maintained, and the facility and its processes are always improving.