The licensed group home in California is defined as a facility of any capacity which provides 24-hour nonmedical care and supervision to children in a structured environment, with such services provided at least in part by staff employed by the licensed group home.

There are about 750 group homes in California that accommodate around 3,500 children. Most of the group homes in California are run by non-profit organizations. It is important to note that in California, group homes are regulated by the California Department of Social Services (CDSS).

California state law requires that group homes of six or fewer residents be regulated in the same manner as single-family residences for zoning purposes. Consequently, the City’s Zoning Code permits Group Homes and Residential Care Facilities that serve six or fewer persons in all residential zones.

Please note that to open a group home in California, you have to obtain a license for your specific type of home and then obtain residents through a placement agency. The requirements for the level of services you must provide, as well as the rate of pay, vary depending on the population you decide to serve. Having said that, here are some of the different types of group homes in California.

Different Types of Group Homes in California

  1. Level 14 Group Home

A Level 14 group home is a group home that provides psychiatric services to seriously emotionally disturbed children. Level 14 group homes are the most restrictive out-of-home placement in the current California foster home system.

Please note that under Welfare and Institutions 5600.3, seriously emotionally disturbed children are defined as: Minors under the age of 18 years who have a mental disorder, other than a primary substance use disorder or developmental disorder, which results in behavior inappropriate to the child’s age according to expected developmental norms.

  1. Residents and Services Group Homes

Residents and services group homes are group homes that accommodate people with disability, such as autism, intellectual disability, chronic or long-term mental/psychiatric disorder, or physical or multiple disabilities because those are the non-profit and state-regional organizations that began and operated the homes.

Some residents and services group homes were funded as transitional homes to prepare for independent living (in an apartment or return to family or marriage and employment), and others were viewed as permanent community homes.

The residents sometimes need continual or supported assistance to complete daily tasks, such as taking medication or bathing, making dinners, having conversations, making appointments, and getting to work or day service.

  1. Residential Treatment Facilities

People who live in a residential treatment group home are offered support services. These people are usually developmentally disabled, recovering from alcohol or drug addiction (e.g., who may have attended a youth drug court hosted by the judicial system), abused or neglected youths, youths with behavioral or emotional problems, and/or youths with criminal records (e.g., a person in need of supervision).

Please note that it is common for group homes or group facilities to also provide residential treatment for youth for a time-limited period, and then return of the youth to the family environment. Similarly, drug, addiction, and alcohol programs may be time-limited, and involve residential treatment (e.g., Afrocentric model for 24 women and children, as part of Boston Consortium of Services).

  1. Residential Treatment for Children with Mental Health Needs

Residential treatment centers and other organized mental health care for children with emotional needs are yet another type of group home. Residential treatment centers were considered largely inappropriate for many of the children who needed better community support services hence the creation of residential treatment for children with mental health needs.

Restructuring of these systems was proposed to promote better prevention and family support for children in mental health systems similar to international initiatives in “individualized family support programs”. Residential treatment is one part of an array of community services that include therapeutic foster care, family support, case management, crisis-emergency services, outpatient and day services, and home-based services.

During this period, residential treatment was also compared to supported housing, also called supportive housing for its role in comprehensive service system developments, though often for adults who may need or desire services.

  1. Community Resources and Neighborhoods

Community Resources and Neighborhoods is another type of group home. Group homes have a good community image, and were developed in the intellectual disability and mental health fields as a desirable middle-class option located in good neighborhoods after a faulty start in poorer neighborhoods in the United States.

Group homes were often built following the principle of normalization (people with disabilities), to blend into neighborhoods, to have access to shopping, banks, and transportation, and sometimes, universal access and design.

Please note that group homes may be part of residential services “models” offered by a service provider together with apartment programs, and other types of “follow along” services.

  1. Halfway Houses and Intermediate Care Facilities

Another type of group home is the halfway houses and intermediate care facilities. Although a group home differs from a halfway house, the latter is one of the most common terms describing community living opportunities in mental health in the 1970s’ medical and psychiatric literature.

Specialized halfway houses, as halfway between the institution and a regular home, may serve individuals with addictions or who may now be convicted of crimes, though very uncommon in the 1970s. Residents are usually encouraged or required to take an active role in the maintenance of the household, such as performing chores or helping to manage a budget.

Interestingly, some of these homes were certified as intermediate care facilities (ICF-MRs) and must respond to stricter facility-based standards. Residents may have their own rooms or share rooms, and facilities such as laundry, bathroom, kitchen, and common living areas.

  1. Foster Care and Family Support for Children

Foster care and family support for children is yet another type of group home. The truth is that a group home can also refer to family homes in which children and youth of the foster care system are placed, sometimes until foster families are found for them, sometimes for long-term care. Homes that are termed group foster care operate under other standards than those termed group homes, including different management systems and departments.

Unrelated children or sibling groups live in a home-like setting with either a set of house parents or a rotating staff of trained caregivers. Specialized therapeutic or treatment group homes are available to meet the needs of children with emotional, intellectual, physical, medical, and/or behavioral difficulties.

  1. Group Home for Adults with Disabilities

Another type of group home is the supportive community option for adults with disabilities. Newer options of group living were often termed supported living, supported housing, individual and family supports, or early on, “individualized supportive living arrangements” (e.g., apartment programs).

These developments often followed analyses of homes as homes, ordinary housing, and support services, versus group treatment or facilities, an important critique during the 1980s and 1990s reform period.

Independent living continued to be a primary framework representing another emblem of community living more often associated with personal assistance and live-in attendants, home health services, and the now termed allied health services of physical and occupational therapy, speech, cognitive therapy, and psychological counseling.

  1. Group Options for Seniors with Disabilities

Possibly, the largest group of group homes (now termed community residential services or residential care by other managements) fall under the heading of residential care homes for seniors, or both seniors and individuals with disabilities. Residential care categories include over 43 separate regulated categories by state governments and now have the new assisted living growing in the United States.

Group facilities (e.g., funded as large as 100 individuals in a nursing facility or on an old-style campus of over 12 wards on the outskirts of cities) or homes for seniors (e.g., room and board) are designed for seniors who cannot live on their own due to physical or mental disabilities.

Group facilities, which may involve over half of the allotted beds or more (80 percent) funded by Medicaid, might also be found under Residential Care Home, Residential Care Facility for the Elderly, or Assisted Living Facility. Alternative community options for these seniors are home health care, hospice care, specialized care (e.g., Alzheimer’s), day care at senior centers, meals on wheels, transportation drivers, and other aging and disability options.

In Conclusion,

It is important to note that California group homes and residential treatment programs are currently going through big changes. In 2015, AB 403 was passed by the California Legislature. It is known as the California Continuum of Care Reform Act (CCR). Under CCR, most residential treatment facilities and group homes will be converted into STRTPs. STRTP stands for Short-Term Residential Treatment Programs.