In Alabama, an adult group home is a residence or facility that provides accommodations to a group of unrelated elderly or disabled adults. These facilities must provide supervision and personal care services to these adults. A youth group home is a facility that provides non-medical care services and 24-hour supervision to children in a structured environment. Alabama has several laws that regulate and apply to both youth and adult group homes.
Alabama Code 420-5-4 requires that adult and youth group homes contain no more than 16 persons at a time. The residents of the home must not require acute or extensive medical or nursing care, nor hospitalization. Alabama requires one staff member for every six residents at all times; the staff do not have to be licensed personnel. The minimum room size for youth and adult homes is 80 square feet for single rooms, and 130 square feet for double occupancy rooms.
Group homes must screen potential residents before accepting them into a group facility. The home cannot accept potential residents, nor can current residents continue to live in the home, if any of the following circumstances exist: the resident poses a serious threat to herself or others; the resident is unable to communicate his needs; the resident needs help to complete an activity of daily living, such as bathing himself; the resident needs more than minimal assistance to move to a safe area during an emergency; the resident has a severe mental illness that prevents her from proper social functioning; the resident needs constant medical treatment.
Before a youth or adult group home can admit a resident, a doctor must conduct a comprehensive assessment of that resident's condition. This assessment should include an evaluation of the resident's physical, cognitive and psychosocial condition, along with a tuberculosis test.
Federal Fair Housing Act
Besides Alabama law, a federal law regulates adult and youth group homes. The Federal Fair Housing Act prohibits the use of local policies or actions that treat group homes for disabled persons differently from other homes. A city cannot deny a permit for a home because of the disability of individuals who live there. For example, a city cannot deny a building permit for a group home intended to provide housing for people with mental retardation unless the city has another justification for permit denial. The Fair Housing Act also protects youth homes for children with physical disabilities.