How to Start a Group Home for People with Mental Retardation or Developmental Disabilities
Previously it was though that individuals with a mental or developmental disability couldn’t learn and the best place for them would be in an institution. As more and more research and information has become available about mentally challenged people, it has made it possible for these individuals to no longer be placed in an institution. Group homes offer a positive atmosphere and lessens the burden placed on their family for their care. You can open a place for them in your community if you know how to start a group home for people with mental retardation or developmental disabilities.
Things You Will NeedHouseEstablish the group home as a nonprofit organization. Most group homes for the mentally challenged don’t make money on providing a home and care for them, so they become nonprofit organizations. You too can get 501(c)(3) status by filing the required papers with the IRS. You need to establish a board of directors and create the bylaws or articles governing your organization. In addition you want to apply for tax exempt status with the IRS.
Secure funding to start a group home. It takes a lot of money to start a group home for the mentally challenged. Not only must you come up with the finances to get a house, you also must furnish it, pay staff wages, and pay for living expenses such as utilities, food, and cleaning supplies. Once you’ve established your group home as a nonprofit organization, individuals can make donations to your organization that they can write off on their taxes.
Find a house to serve as the group home. Ideally you want to find a house that you can purchase or can be donated by a private individual since chances are you want to make changes to the house to accommodate residents. Some mentally challenged individuals are in wheelchairs, so you may need to find a house that is handicap accessible or make changes to it to accommodate the individuals living there. Before selecting a house to serve as the group home, you can survey neighbors and area residents about their thoughts and feelings towards having a group home in their community. A neighborhood that doesn’t support the idea may not be the right place for your group home.
Obtain insurance for home and organization. Commercial property insurance is needed to protect the group home while commercial general liability insurance can be used to protect your organization. More information about this as well as insurance companies that provide it can be found through the nonprofit resources website.
Purchase equipment and items for the group home. Individuals moving into the group home often have furniture and personal items they want to keep in their bedrooms, but you need to furnish the common living areas in the home. In addition you may need to make changes to accommodate any physical disabilities or difficulties a mentally challenged person has.
Hire staff to work or live in the home. The level of mental or developmental disabilities present in the house will determine how many staff need to be at the group home at a particular time and whether or not they can live in. For mentally challenged persons who are fairly independent and can perform most daily living tasks on their own, a staff member may only need to be present at specific times. However severely mentally challenged people often need care around the clock which would require you to hire more staff to work in rotating schedules.
Arrange transportation for residents. Mentally challenged individuals are unable to drive themselves, which is why it is important for your group home to arrange for transportation. Residents may be able to ride on city transit if available, or you may need to purchase a vehicle for the home in order to transport residents to doctor’s appointments, work, shopping and community events.
Find mentally challenged people to move into the house. Once you have everything in place and the house is ready to go, you can begin moving mentally challenged people in. When creating your bylaws or articles for governing your organization, you should have established the process and requirements for residents to be part of your group home. Use those now to determine who you serve and who can move in.
Help individuals learn new tasks. It’s important that individuals in group homes have goals to obtain and work towards. They should be involved in helping to set these goals since they are often based on their own personal preferences. Many mentally challenged people want to live independently, thus you and your staff can focus on helping them learn and master the daily living tasks they would need to be able to perform if living by themselves.
Build community and get residents active. To have a successful and happy group home it’s important that the mentally challenged people living there have the opportunity to interact with each other as well as the general public. Take the time to encourage residents to get to know each other and become comfortable around who they live with. Take them to community events and area attractions just as you would anyone else.
Maintain accurate records and keep them confidential. Since you are caring for other individuals it’s important that you keep records on each mentally challenged person living in the group home. If there is ever a problem social services will review the records as well as investigate the home and having them up to date and accurate can prevent a lot of problems. In addition you should take the steps necessary to ensure that the records remain confidential since they often contain both personal and medical information.
ArrayTips WarningsIf you have residents in your group home taking any type of medication, you need to keep it stored in a locked drawer or cabinet that only staff can access.
You can check with your state department of social services to determine if your nonprofit organization qualifies for receiving state funding per individual living in your group home since they are disabled.