The Ohio Administrative Code defines “group home” as “a public or private facility which provides placement services for children.” The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) is responsible for providing guidelines for group homes, which must be licensed by ODJFS or an approved local entity.
Ohio considers placement in a group home to be a form of “residential substitute care.” Substitute care is intended to be temporary, with the overall goal of family reunification, when reunification is possible. Placement workers try to place children in a culturally sensitive environment within the child’s community. The worker develops a case plan for each child that is “designed to meet the child’s emotional and physical needs in the least restrictive, most family-like setting.” Group home operators should take these priorities into account in program planning. In particular, you should consider how to achieve a home-like setting that will promote family reunification.
Familiarize yourself with the detailed training standards established by Ohio law. (See Resources below.) Childcare workers must complete 20 hours of orientation training within 30 days of their employment. In addition to administrative practices and safety procedures, you must train workers in areas like childcare, behavior management and crisis management. Employees must complete the orientation training and a criminal records check before they may be left alone with residents. You are required to provide an additional 32 hours of training during the first year of employment and 24 hours of training annually in subsequent years. Activities related to an individual’s regular duties, sometimes called “on-the-job” training, are not counted toward the required training hours. Childcare workers must also be trained and certified to provide first aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation within six months of being hired. Be sure to maintain complete documentation of training and certification.
Maintenance and Physical Requirements
The law requires you to maintain the group home facility “in good repair and in clean condition.” This requirement includes buildings, grounds, furniture and equipment. If your group home serves youth with children, you must monitor the facility carefully to insure a suitable environment. Child safety measures, like using protective covers on electric outlets and storing cleaning supplies out of the reach of children, must be followed. You must also follow explicit guidelines regarding cleanliness, including specified methods for handling diaper changing. (See Resources below.)
You must follow specified safety practices to maintain your license. Safety requirements are wide-ranging, including prohibition of explosives and firearms, limitations on smoking and the use of locks on interior and exterior doors. Develop emergency procedures that detail suitable responses for a variety of emergency situations, including natural disasters and fires. Train staff members and residents to familiarize them with emergency procedures, conduct regular drills and document your emergency preparedness activities. You are also required to develop a written plan for medical emergencies, maintain first aid supplies and train your staff to follow emergency procedures.
Kate Fogle, an attorney and former English teacher, is the communications director for a non-profit agency in Stockton, Calif. Prior to recent articles on eHow.com, her writing has been published in-house for professional purposes. Fogle is a graduate of UC Davis with a JD from UC Berkeley’s Boalt Hall.