How To Start a Group Home

A group home can refer to many things, but it generally is a site that provides 24 hour non-medical care in a structured environment.The elderly, people with mental or physical disabilities, and those dealing with substance abuse are often the focus.A rewarding career is possible when you start a group home.

Step 1: You should assess your goals.

There is a growing demand for group homes in the U.S., due in large part to the growing elderly population, along with increasing numbers of other adults and youths who can benefit from this setting.Demand means an opportunity to make money, but don’t expect starting a group home to be your path to fast and easy wealth.If you want to help vulnerable people, running a group home is probably not for you.You need to be able to find your reward in the good you are doing for others because the job requires hard work, long hours, significant expense, and ample frustration.Do you want to serve at the group home?Seniors?The disabled?Is there at-risk children?Each option has its own challenges and rewards.You may want to check out some of the different types of group homes.

Step 2: Take a look at the local market.

If you wanted to open a pizza shop in a town that already has a half-dozen of them, you would need a unique angle to differentiate yours from the rest.Group homes need to be aware of what the market needs.If you want to start a group home in the local area, you need to conduct a needs assessment.How many similar homes exist in the area?What is the average level?Is there a need for more?Can a group home setting distinguish you from the pack?The government agencies that oversee group homes in your area should be contacted here.If there is a need for another group home, ask what type is most in demand.You can inquire about group home needs in the area by contacting local social service organizations.

Step 3: Prepare for a fight.

You may think that everyone supports the idea of group homes, but that is not the case.Politics, concerns about effectiveness, and fears of upsetting the local neighborhood dynamic are some of the reasons for opposition.The U.S. is considering cutting federal funding for group homes for children, based on examples of abuse and exploitation and questions about their effectiveness.When it comes to locating your group home, there may be opposition from local homeowners.Some people oppose the idea of having any sort of group home in their midst because of the risk to property values.When the time comes, make sure you have all your ducks in a row, and also work on soothing neighborhood nerves by explaining the purpose and need for the group home and the provisions you will make to be a beneficial neighbor.

Step 4: A business plan can be created.

Whether you are starting a group home, a grocery store, or a gardening service, it is always a good idea to draw up a detailed business plan that outlines the goals, needs, opportunities, and obstacles for your new enterprise.A well-constructed business plan will serve as your group home’s guide as it gets off the ground, or may even convince you to change your plans.Even if you aren’t seeking financial support, a business plan can still serve a useful purpose.Title Page and Table of Contents are included in the detailed article How to Write a Business Plan for information on creating one.You summarize your vision for the company in the Executive Summary.An overview of your company and the service it provides to its market is provided in the general company description.You describe your product or service in detail.You describe how you’ll bring your product to consumers in your marketing plan.You describe how the business will operate on a day-to-day basis in the operational plan.The structure and philosophy of your organization are described in Management and Organization.You show your model for finances and need from investors in a financial plan.The U.S. Small Business Administration can offer guidance on developing a business plan.

Step 5: Look at your finances.

It takes a significant investment to get a new group home off the ground, and you probably don’t have enough money just lying around to fund the enterprise yourself.Determine your financing needs by using your business plan and realistic assessment of your personal finances.Along with guidance for your business plan, the U.S. Small Business Administration offers a wealth of information on the process and expectations for securing small business loans from financial institutions.If there are grants or low-interest loans available, inquire with the local and state agencies that oversee group homes.It is possible to get start-up funding for your group home.Renting out part of your residence is one of the options.You have to balance the benefits of borrowing from friends and family with the awkwardness of imposing a business relationship on a personal one.

Step 6: There is a relationship with the relevant government agencies.

If you want your group home to succeed, you need the government to be on your side.To be eligible for essential reimbursement funding via the AFDC-FC program, a group home for children must have the written support of the host county.Connecticut has regulations for group homes that cover everything from telephone service to clean bathroom.If you want to start a group home, you will need all the help you can get.

Step 7: You can research the licensing process in your location.

Every U.S. state has its own licensing procedures for starting and operating a group home.In order for you to complete all the necessary steps, you will need to be proactive.Group homes for children in California are licensed by the state Department of Social Services.In Florida, the Department of Health provides information but not licensing for group homes; that responsibility lies with either the Agency for Health Care Administration or the department of Children and Families.The Department of Mental Retardation in Connecticut handles licensing for group homes for the mentally disabled.State licensing is just the beginning of the process.It is possible that you need to be personally licensed as a Certified Administrator of Group homes.

Step 8: Understand federal, state, and local regulations.

Do you know the requirements for food and health inspections in Florida?Do you mean fire marshal’s certification in Connecticut?Is it necessary for your employees to have first aid training regardless of where they are located?What kind of permits do you need?It can seem like a lot of work.Contact your local department of health, human services, or social services to see if they can help you with the operation of group homes in your area.Go to the state and federal levels as necessary.Be very patient and ask lots of questions.Remember why you want to help your community.Asking for guidance from existing group home operators is always a good idea.

Step 9: Get insurance if you apply for non-profit status.

Depending on your location, one or both of these may not be necessary, but they are essential steps nonetheless.Protect the time, effort, and money you are investing in your group home by taking every opportunity.Establishing non-profit status in the U.S. is not easy.If you want to be exempt from state taxation, you need to create a corporate entity by filing Articles of Incorporation with your state, then begin work on the lengthy Form 1023 provided by the IRS.It’s a good idea to hire an attorney who knows this process.Check to see if your state requires insurance coverage for your group home, but make sure you have adequate insurance for liability, fire, and theft, among other areas.

Step 10: Prepare to work.

No matter the size of the home, you will need some help.It is advisable to put your ducks in a row before engaging in the hiring process.The paperwork and recordkeeping required to hire an employee in the U.S. can be found in this SBA article and the IRS publication.Form I-9 is required to verify an employee’s eligibility to work in the U.S.Determining the requirements for new hire reporting, tax reporting and worker’s compensation insurance in your state.You can keep track of your many responsibilities as an employer if you establish a functional record-keeping operation.

Step 11: You can find the right home site.

It may be time to establish your actual group home once you have jumped through a number of bureaucratic hoops.If you haven’t already identified a good location, do so now.You can legally establish a group home if you know where to look.In Connecticut, for instance, there are specific square footage requirements for resident bedroom sizes.Local residents don’t want a group home in their area.They will often cite safety concerns, decreased property values, or even traffic and parking problems as reasons for opposition.You should be prepared to explain and defend the benefits of your group home to the community even if you have verified your legal right to establish your home.

Step 12: Determine the budget.

It’s important to have a clear breakdown of your income and expenses in place before you start your business.This process will make it clear how dependent your group home will be on government reimbursement.There is a sample budget for a group home for children in Georgia that can be found at www.cga.ct.gov/2003/rpt/2003-R-0169.htm.The 60% per diem reimbursement rate provided by the state of Georgia after the first year of operation is important to note.Operators of a group home shouldn’t expect to make a lot of money.Good work for those in need is what you should be focused on.

Step 13: Good people should be hired.

Now that you have prepared yourself for the process of hiring employees, you can focus on finding the right people to fill the positions.There are steps you can take to improve your chances of making strong hires for your group home, even though hiring good employees is at least as much of an art as it is a science.Finding people with positive experience working in a group home setting is great, of course, but don’t exclude everyone without experience.Consideration should be given to educational background, training, and temperament.It takes a lot of patience, perseverance, and compassion to work in a group home.Can you provide an example of a problem that you successfully solved?Insights into a potential employee’s ambition, ingenuity, and work ethic may be offered.Keep in mind that stock answers may have already been prepared by the interviewee.An inability to answer effectively is a bad sign.In addition, try to think up a few problem-solving hypotheticals that are specific to the group home setting.”).

Step 14: Get a letter from the host.

Once you have done all the paperwork and planning, and are ready to open your home, you will need to get the “stamp of approval” from your local government authority responsible for group homes.The local social / human services department will direct prospective residents to the right place.If you operate a group home for abused children, you will need to locate the children in the system with you in order to survive.A legitimate host letter may be required in order to receive reimbursements.Inquire with the local government authority that is responsible for group homes about the requirements and process for obtaining this document.

Step 15: Prepare to open your business.

Even though opening a group home isn’t the same as opening an ice cream parlor or repair shop, any new small business that wants to survive needs to make a strong start.You have laid the groundwork for a successful opening, but you need to spread the word and make sure the experience is positive.A lot of the advice on how to open a small business is relevant to the group home experience.Even if logo balloons and prize giveaways aren’t right for your group home’s grand opening, advertising is important.It’s still important to spread the word about your business through traditional, digital, and social media methods.Making connections with the proper government agencies and community organizations may be your most vital form of advertising for group homes.