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Parenting an Adult Child with Disabilities: Questions to Ask at a Group Home Visit

 


When our son, Ben, turned 14, I started researching group homes in North Carolina. I visited one large facility and one six-bed group home. I felt overwhelmed, sad and scared after those two visits. The experience made me aware of how difficult the process would be, both emotionally and mentally.

Although your child may have a case manager to help locate agencies with group homes and alternative family living placements, most of the process is up to the family.

Once you narrow down a placement, here are questions you might want to have answered:

Staff

  • How are staff vetted for employment?
  • What experience does the agency have running group homes?
  • How many staff are on duty throughout the day? 
  • How does the agency recruit and retain staff?
  • Is someone awake during the night in case my child needs assistance?

Home

  • Who are they looking for to fill the space within the group home? Co-ed or single gender?
  • What's the layout of the house? 
  • How many bathrooms? 
  • Does each person have a private room?
  • Are the bathrooms and entranceways accessible for wheelchairs?
  • Is there an outdoor space at the house?
  • Is the neighborhood walkable?
  • Who cooks the meals? 
  • Do residents have input into the menu?
Move-In
  • What does the move-in process look like?
  • Are we able to decorate our child's room? 
  • What size bed can we bring?
  • Are we able to bring a TV?
  • What furniture is provided? 
  • May we paint the room another color?
  • Is there wifi in the room for Amazon Prime, HBO Max and other providers?
  • Will you inventory our child's items?

Activities and Schedule

  • What does a weekly schedule look like? 
  • Do parents have access to the weekly schedule?
  • What kinds of community outings does the group home do?
  • Does the group home participate in the Special Olympics and other community activities?
  • Does the group home have an alliance with other group homes for shared activities?
  • Is the group home connected to a local church?
  • What kind of transportation do you use for outings? 
  • Do you have an accessible vehicle for outings?
  • Can my child attend school if they are not yet 22 years old?
  • Is there a day program associated with the group home?
  • What are other residents doing during the day?

Medical Information

  • Who will schedule and take my child to their medical appointments?
  • If I am available, may I schedule and take my child to their medical appointments?
  • Do you have a protocol for emergencies within the house? Outside of the house?
  • Will legal guardians be informed of changes in medical status and emergencies? How?

Oversight

  • Who visits the home for health and safety checks? How often?
  • Who else comes into the group home to see that things are running well?
  • How does the local management entity interact with the group home?

Visiting and Communication

  • How often can the family visit the group home?
  • How often can we take our child home?
  • How do staff communicate with parents?
  • Are families able to plan birthday parties or other events for the residents?
  • Are we able to FaceTime with our child if we provide an iPad?
If you have suggestions for other questions, please add them in the comments. 



"Parenting an Adult Child with Disabilities" is a series on eSpeciallyBen. As Ben approached 18, it was clear our role changed as parents. We needed to help Ben transition into adulthood. These stories are meant to assist other families who face, or will face, some of the same challenges.


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