Starting a Group Home



Contact the State Department of Social/Human Services.  Ask them for the licensing regulations and application forms for residential care.  These may be available through individual state licensing departments.  Also obtain guidelines for rate request documents and or payment process and procedures.


Needs Assessment:


Do a needs assessment, in the area you wish to operate, regarding existing programs for children and youth as well as the specific areas of need.


Contact resources including: County social services, probation, mental health departments, county juvenile justice commission, law enforcement, education departments, hospitals, and other existing providers.


Note: When contacting existing providers inquire about state association(s).


Define population:


After completing the needs assessment, determine which population you primarily want to serve, i.e..


  • Delinquent and abused children (infant to age 12 boys and/or girls)
  • Delinquent and abused youth (ages 12-18)
  • Pregnant teenage girls
  • Developmentally delayed children (physically and/or mentally handicapped, non ambulatory)
  • Juvenile sex offenders
  • Emotionally disturbed children and youth
  • Children with HIV
  • Children with Substance abuse issues,
  • Transitional housing
  • Drop in center
  • Short-term over night emergency shelter for runaway children
  • Any other specified needs for youth in the community.


Type of facility:


After determining which population to serve, then decide what type of facility you are going to operate.  For example, will you operate as a 24 hr. residential care or a therapeutic foster family agency?


Collaboration with other agencies: Work collaboratively with agencies that provide services such as, individuals and family therapy, recreational activities, religious education and youth group activities, aftercare, vocational training, employment opportunities, substance abuse treatment.


Non Profit Corporation status: It is recommended that you contact your state in order to apply for non-profit corporation status.  This includes the process to develop a Board of Directors, Agency By-Laws and Articles of Incorporation. A good resource is Fresno Area Nonprofit Council.


Budget: Create an initial estimated budget that includes all operating expenses as well as projected income.  Budget should include a chart of accounts in accordance with rate setting requirements.  In addition, throughout this process, ask everyone for existing list of names of potential donors.


Site Location: Begin to look for housing.  Whether you plan to build a house or lease property, be sure to pay attention to zoning ordinance and a conditional use permit.


Program statement: A statement of your program needs to be developed according to the guidelines set by licensing in your state.  There many be consultants in your area that can write it for you.  This may be well worth the cost in order to avoid mistakes and save time.


Host letter: Contact local probation or social services department from your county and obtain a host letter (letter of support in your county indicating there is a need for your program and management).  They will place children in your facility once you are open.


Insurance: Contact Brokers in your area that specialize in this type of risk.  The insurance program should include:  Directors and Officers coverage, Liability, including sexual abuse allegations, property, vehicle and workers compensation.


Wage and earning: Contact State Department of Fair Employment and Housing, for your state’s current wage and hourly earnings laws.  Also obtain overtime laws from both State and Federal government, sexual harassment laws, and discrimination laws, etc.. Obtain copies of all required notices that must be posted at the work place.


Fingerprinting and Child Abuse protection requirements: Contact local department of justice for these requirements.


Health and Fire Inspection: Contact local fire and health department for inspections.  Refer to your state licensing requirements.


Food Program: Contact USDA United States Department of Agriculture regarding the school breakfast and lunch and snack reimbursement programs.


Staff Hiring and training: Recruit from local colleges and universities.  Develop job descriptions and pay schedule including benefits.


Develop training schedule appropriate to the needs of your staff, including orientation, all initial and ongoing trainings.


Education for clients: Research all possibilities for education children, including special education, vocational, charter, opportunity, court, continuation, non public schools, etc.


Things to consider when determining educational choices: Transportation, scheduling, size of classroom, special ed. services, geographical location, student body population, and relationship with educational staff.


“I can do all things THROUGH Christ, Who gives me strength… Like steel!!!”

–Phil 3:14


“Have a support group of friends to lean on and cheer you on in your dream process.  The beginning is hard and once you open its harder, but with God…All things are possible!!


If you choose to do this take your time to do it right.  Ask questions from everyone you meet.”


–Connie Clendenan, CEO Valley Teen Ranch

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *