A group home refers to a facility that provides 24-hour non medical care and supervision to children in a structured environment. In these facilities services are provided, at least in part, by staff employed by the licensee. Note that the group home licensees are tasked with the care and supervision of children placed in their group home.

There are several agencies involved in the oversight of group homes in California. Group homes in the State of California are licensed by the California Department of Social Services (CDSS) and the Community Care Licensing Division (CCLD). The Community Care Licensing Division (CCLD) also monitors group homes by making unscheduled visits at least once per year.

A good number of developmentally delayed persons live independently or with family, but some live in group homes. The California Regional Centers provide placement and funding for group home living. When the center’s specific placement needs are unmet, they can be provided with grants to assist in the development of specialized programs.

Group homes in California may offer tailored services targeted to a specific population of children. Most often, these services include substance abuse, minor-parent (mothers and babies), infant programs, mental health treatment, vocational training, mental health day treatment, sex offenders, wards only, emancipation, and reunification.

To open a group home in California, you will be expected to obtain a license for your specific type of home and then get residents via a placement agency. The requirements for the level of services you intend to provide, coupled with the rate of pay, will vary depending on the population you decide to serve.

Common Requirements for Group Homes in California

Group homes in California are known to provide the most restrictive out-of-home placement option for children in foster care. They tend to provide placement options for children with significant emotional or behavioral problems who require more restrictive environments. However, to open a group home in California, there are regulations and requirements you are expected to comply with. These requirements and regulations include;

  1. Licensure

To start a group home in California, you are expected to be well trained and licensed. You will have to reach your local Regional Center. There are at least 21 Regional Centers, operating 40 offices throughout California. Contact the one nearest to you and request to speak with the person in charge of “Vendorization,” and ask them what their current needs are for Residential Care.

You will also be expected to attend a “Residential Services Training” through your Regional Center. The cost of this training will vary depending on the Regional Center and the time of the year. You also have to attend an orientation at Community Care Licensing (CCL) for Adult Care, Child Care, or Elderly Care.

Have in mind that the requirements for obtaining a license to operate your group home will vary depending on the population you intend to serve. The license will only be valid for a specific operating location. The license will also need to be posted in a prominent, publicly accessible location in the facility.

  1. Staffing and Administrators

To start a group home in California, you must get an administrator’s certificate. In the state of California, the process involves attending a 40-hour course, passing a test, passing a background check, and paying an application fee.

Every group home in California must have an administrator, and there is no way to get around the certification process. Reach out to your local Department of Social Services and request to know when the next Group Home administrator test will be offered. Note that test times and dates vary from location to location.

You will be expected to bring your completion certificate to the Department of Social Services on the test day. Ensure to take the group home administrator test within 60 days of receiving your completion certificate. You will need to get no lower than 70 percent to pass.

  1. Bedroom Requirements

In the state of California, no more than two children are allowed to share a bedroom in a group home, and these rooms are expected to be large enough to give space for easy passage and the use of any required assistive devices, including but not limited to wheelchairs and other items of furniture.

Also, note that children of different sexes are not allowed to share a bedroom unless a minor’s parent intends to share a bedroom with the children. In addition, no room commonly used for other purposes should be used as a bedroom. This includes halls, stairways, unfinished attics or basements, garages, storage areas, sheds, or similar detached buildings.

Also note that no bedroom should be used as a public or general passageway to another room, bath, or toilet. Except for infants, children shall not share a bedroom with an adult, but in bedrooms shared by adults and infants, no more than one infant and no more than two adults shall share the room.

4. Fixtures, Furniture, Equipment, and Supplies

Every group home in California is expected to have at least one toilet and wash basin maintained for every six persons residing in the facility, including children and personnel. The home will also need to have at least one shower or bathtub maintained for every ten persons residing in the facility, including children and personnel.

Toilets and bathrooms will have to be properly situated so that children do not have to go outdoors to use such facilities, and individual privacy must be accorded in all toilet, bath, and shower areas. Group homes are also expected to provide each child with equipment and supplies necessary for personal care and maintenance of personal hygiene.

Although no group home should have more beds than required for the maximum capacity approved by the licensing agency, have it in mind that this requirement does not apply to the bed(s) made available for illness or separation of others in an isolation room or area.

Also, note that the use of common towels and washcloths is not allowed and a minimum of two drawers or eight cubic feet (.2264 cubic meters) of drawer space must be provided for each child.

  1. Signal System

Group homes in the State are expected to have a signal system that meets certain requirements. This system will need to be accessible to children to summon staff during an emergency.

A signal system is a must for group homes with a licensed capacity of 31 or more children, and all those with separate floors and not providing full-time staff on each floor whenever children are present. You will also need a signal system if you have separate buildings and do not provide full-time staff in each building whenever children are present.

The signal system is expected to have the ability to operate from each child’s living unit. Note that transmission of a visual and/or auditory signal to a central location, or production of an auditory signal at the specific children’s living unit will need to be loud enough to summon staff.

It should also be able to show Identification of the specific children’s living unit from which the signal originates. Facilities with more than one wing, floor, or building shall be allowed to have a separate signal system in each component provided that each such system meets the requirements noted above.

  1. Activities and Amenities

Group homes are expected to always offer activities that are designed to suit the individual needs and interests of children. In the State of California, assessments must be completed before residents can move in.

Although the state does not require a standardized form, the assessment is expected to include a report by a guardian or a physician. The assessment must include an evaluation of their mental status, social functioning, and ability to care for themselves.


Group homes in California provide 24-hour non-medical care and supervision to children and non-minor dependents up to age 19, in a structured environment, with services offered by persons employed by the licensee. There are numerous hurdles to jump when looking to start a group home in the State.

Owing to that, it is recommended that you first determine the Regional Center that serves the area you intend to open a group home and request more information and directions. Every county in California is served by one of the 21 Regional Centers.