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Has anyone put their child in a group home?

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
We are starting to seriously consider putting dd in a group home. She is severely disabled, and we just don't feel that she is getting the care that she needs at home and we realize that as she gets bigger, it will only get worse. The honest fact of the matter is that she needs full time attention and we cannot give her enough of that when we have 4 other children as well (she is like a baby developmentally). This is something that I have been struggling with the idea of for a while and I know that the time is coming soon. So, have any of you put a child in a group home? Do you have any advice for what to look for, how to do it, how to deal with feeling like a bad parent for doing it, etc? Any advice or anything would be great.
post #2 of 20
no advice. just and many supportive thoughts for you and your family.
post #3 of 20
Not much to say, but it's obviously a hard descision and whats best for your DD is the right one.

I personally would suggest looking for a home that you would be willing to stay in if you were in your DD's place. Look it like "If I was living here, would I like it?"
post #4 of 20
A wonderful friend growing up, her sister was placed in a group home when she (her sister) was 18. It was so hard for her parents, and I was 15 at the time, so not ENTIRELY aware of their issues, but I know that it was a hard decision, but one that worked for their family. The home (which I visited often with my friend P.) had the following things that really resonated with me:

1. outside help - everyone that worked at the home was vetted, but some of them were specialists who worked with the residents playing music with them, helping them to learn specific skills, speach therapy, OT, etc. These people were through hospitals and private consultanting groups who hire specialists and they get hours working at these kinds of homes. The house she lived in had a full time team of regular nurses, but no specialists in residence.

2. It was close enough to Home to make visiting easy and fun.

3. The rooms were doubles, but they were big, so each resident got to have their own bed, space, closet, window, wall for putting up photos etc., and a work table. P's sister wasn't infant-level developmentally, more like a toddler. She could sit at a table and eat (messily), but not dress herself very well, and not toilet trained. All her toilet needs were met by the residental nurses or her family. Everyone there was at about that level - so you might want to look for a place that has a good match between # of staff, level of staff training, and the spread of developmental needs of residents. You may have to ask specifically (they will surely give you a rundown, but asking specifically who comes, where they come from, and the # of visits your child will receive daily/weekly is probably playing it safe). Aesthetics is obviously secondary, but you do want there to be some space for your family to comfortably visit with her, and the on-duty nurse to be able to work with her on new and stimulating things. And finding a place that offers specialists as well as medical/maintenance staff is important.

Good luck, mama! You have been working really hard for her and that won't stop just because she lives in a different house. She is and always always will be your little girl. If she isn't of legal age, you may have a harder time finding a place for her, but I haven't tried looking! Keep well, andy
post #5 of 20
I've never been in a situation where I had to make such a difficult choice for my own child, but I've worked in group homes, and in other settings with clients who lived in group homes.

There are huge variations in the quality of group homes out there and so you need to be careful when looking, but there are also some very good programs. In the first place I worked, the residents were very well cared for. We had lots of outings -- to the movies, concerts etc . . . and even took some of them on vacation. I think that as a parent I would have felt very comfortable with my child in those homes.

Good luck!
post #6 of 20
There are huge variations in group homes. A close friend of our family had a foster daughter who was severely developmentally delayed and also deaf and blind. The mom died and the girl was put into a group home. Later it was found out that she was being neglected and even abused so my grandmother took her out and took custody of her. She had a heck of a time finding another suitable home but did find a day care home for her and takes her home at night. She's doing very well now, I believe she is in her early 20's. But don't feel bad like you are not giving her all of the attention she needs because in a group home she is likely going to get just as much or less attention because most places have one person caring for a few different high needs people. Of course this is a decision only you can make. Good luck with your decision mama
post #7 of 20
Look for a group home that is perfectly fine with you dropping in at any time. If they are not OK with that move on and find another one. If/when you decide to place her try to drop in unexpectedly as often as you can. One thing to look at is staff to resident ratio, the training the staff has, and the size of the facility (big enough that it has the resources to deal with her needs (especially if she is medically fragile) but small enough that she won't be treated like a number).

I was in a residential placement when I was a teen for about 18 months- and it really was not a bad place. It clearly was a different place than you are dealing with (this place dealt with abused kids, high functioning autism, and mental illness) however it was a relatively good place. My old Spanish teacher volunteered with a residential facility which dealt with medically fragile teenagers- she loved working with them and wanted to get a full time job there.
post #8 of 20
One more thing, see if you can actually see how the staff intereacts with the patients. That can be a huge tell for a place. If they don't really interact with the people they are caring for, then find another one.

I know from my time as an extended guest in a hospital that nurses are caregivers who don't talk to you and don't look you in the eye are the ones who don't really pay attention to your needs, even if your capable of saying "Hey this is what I need!" Which your DD isn't.
post #9 of 20
Originally Posted by MusicianDad View Post
One more thing, see if you can actually see how the staff intereacts with the patients. That can be a huge tell for a place. If they don't really interact with the people they are caring for, then find another one.

I know from my time as an extended guest in a hospital that nurses are caregivers who don't talk to you and don't look you in the eye are the ones who don't really pay attention to your needs, even if your capable of saying "Hey this is what I need!" Which your DD isn't.
Such a good point. I worked in a neurology ICU when I was a nursing student- most of our patients were in comas. I was astonished by how many nurses and nursing assistants would come in a room and simply start a procedure/bath/IV without even *talking* to the patient! (One of the patients, after being in a coma for weeks, recognized my voice when I came into his room and said, 'I remember you, you actually talk to me!' ) So yes, pay attention to whether they actually interact with residents. It's quite telling.
post #10 of 20
I have not had to personally do this, but my uncle is developmentally disabled. He isn't very verbal, and when communicating it's much like speaking to my two year old.

My grandparents placed him in a group home where he has thrived.

Look for a home with excellent recomendations from PARENTS, not just doctors and specialists.

Schedule a visit and do a suprise follow up. So you can see their BEST behavior, and their everyday behavior.

Good luck.
post #11 of 20
Such a tough decision.
We refuse to think about it yet, we have no idea if our sweetie will need help as a grownup and can't live alone, but we push it ahead of us for now.
post #12 of 20
DH and I both worked in group homes (both good and not so good) during and after college; my sister manages one and my mother is in admin for a group home company. PPs have addressed that there are good ones and bad ones, and some of how to tell which ones are which, and I agree with everything they said. If you have any specific questions about how group homes run, though, I'd be happy to answer them, either here or in PM.
post #13 of 20
Had to give a .

Don't forget to check licensing boards, police reports, and the Better Business Bureau.

Ask if the employees have a background search or are fingerprinted.

Also possibly is a medical "daycare" or a respite worker a possible solution???

post #14 of 20
Another thing to consider is amount of staffing provided as well as languages spoken. At one home I externed at, most of the staff were not fluent in English, which was the primary language of the residents. If you are interested in a language building environment, this is a major facctor to keep in mind.

Also, look at the staffing levels. A different home I worked at didn't have enough staff regularly scheduled to go to outside events, so the clients didn't get as much community time as the other homes I went to (where there were regularly 1:1 aids). The home that went out regularly also had very active parents, so that might have been a factor.
post #15 of 20
just a thought here, but you might be able to make the transition a bit slower to make you and your dd more comfortable? There have been children in my dd's classroom in the past that have lived in group homes part time and at their family home part time (like MTW group home TFSS family home). I also know some places do respite/weekend care, and perhaps that will be a good place to start. This way you can get a better picture of the care your dd will be recieving becuase you can monitor her behavior when she comes home and watch for things that are out of the ordinary, kwim?

In the meantime are you able to get any in home assistance to make things easier for you and your family while you find the right placement for your daughter?
post #16 of 20
((())) I have no advise, but we worry about this everyday.
post #17 of 20
We have DSS on a waiting list. In our state, DSS will stay in public school until 21 then he will be eligible for placement in a group home or day program but there is a long waiting list so that is why we have him on the list now at age 16. If we want to place him in a group home before then, it will cost us around $1500/month. When he starts getting SSI, it will be more affordable but its still a huge expense so the plan is to wait until he's 21 and no longer in school. We have toured one residential place that we hope he'll get into and it is awesome. They live in real houses that have been donated and moved there. They have 1-2 caregivers in each home. They take their residents on vacation to the beach once a year. There are opportunities for them to be as independent as possible. DSS is somewhere between 3 and 5 yrs old with his skills and abilities.

My disabled brother on the other hand is more like what OP described and he requires almost constant care. My parents have gone into debt to pay for caregivers to help them because it is too much for them to do by themselves. My mom once sat in the floor with my brother for 2 hours because he had fallen out of his chair and she was unable to lift him back. He's 6 feet tall and she's barely 5 feet tall. It is costing them around $30k/yr to employ full time caregivers. Fortunately they did get a settlement from a malpractice lawsuit to help with his care but it will eventually run out. My parents will not even entertain the thought of placing my brother in a group home. I think if they did look into though they would probably find someplace super nice like we did for DSS. They just aren't emotionally ready for that yet though. Its a process I guess.
post #18 of 20

We are in a similar situation. We have an adopted daughter, we have tried to give her the care she needs for the last 4 years now and can not monitor her FT as she needs while caring for our other 5 kiddos. She has a lot of developmental delays and self injurious behaviors ( esp at night)  and RAD and we are beyond exhausted and brought to tears pretty consistently these days. I live in Maine and have no idea where to go for help. I can usually navigate the system pretty well, but have no idea who can actually help us with this. DHHS has not been any help thus far. I am a therapist and far too often I have seen good and caring families ask for help, and turn they are examined and blamed for the difficulties by less than qualified providers who do not comprehend the complexity of the situation. If anyone has any info that would help us in Maine we would greatly appreciate it. We would most likely be willing to move out of state if we can find help elsewhere.

post #19 of 20

I don't know much about your specific situation; but, I just wanted to point out one other option:


A good friend of mine has a daughter who is disabled.  Like you, they were considering placing her in a group home.  They visited all of the group homes within a reasonable distance, and just couldn't find one that they were comfortable with.  She had an acquaintance (from a special needs support group) who was in the same boat--and they ended up creating sort of their own group home.  Both of the girls were young adults (I suspect that is older than your child), and I don't think this would work with young children.  Anyway, it's worked for them and it may work for others that are posting here.  Here's some more details...


The girls now live together in a nice 3 bedroom apartment that is less than 10 minutes away from the parents' homes.


The parents contracted with a local home health company to provide "staffing" from the hours of 6 am to 10 pm.  The home health company deals with the staff training, hiring, education, etc. but the parents do have say in who cares for the girls.  The home health aides help with cooking the food, doing laundry, cleaning, etc.  The disabled girls are able to help some--but can not do any of those tasks independently.  The caregivers also take the girls outside, show them movies, do crafts, paint fingernails, put fun braids in their hair, etc.  They've had great caregivers.  They've been working with the home health company for about 5 years and have only had concerns about one employee.  Their concerns were due to medications not being administered on time, and the employee was fired.


A female college student lives in the 3rd bedroom.  She was hired by the parents, not through the home health company.  She gets free rent and $150 per month in exchange for being at home with the girls from 10 pm to 6 am, 6 days a week.  Both girls are usually okay during the night.  The home health company helps them get into bed, and then the college student has been trained by the parents for what to do if any issues come up in the night.  Since the parents live pretty close, she calls them if anything really crazy happens (less than once a year so far).  They have had 3 or 4 different college students over the last 5 years.  It's worked out pretty well.  The college student is free to come and go during the day as she wishes, uses the kitchen, have friends over, etc.  There is a contract about no alcohol in the home, no drugs, no overnight guests on nights that she's in charge of the girls, etc.


The girls stay with their families (at the family homes, not the apartment) one night a week and on holidays.  


There are a lot more details involved--but that's the gist of it.  The only problem at this point is that there is not a wheelchair-accessible van just for the girls.  They participate in activities at least 3x a week through a special needs organization, so right now one of the parents has to come pick them up and drive them back and forth.  They are working on saving money towards purchasing a van that the caregivers can use to transport the girls.  


The parents, and other family members, are welcome to stop in at anytime.  Both girls have a lot of family members, so someone stops by at least once a day.  


Both girls have thrived in this environment.  Really.  It's been such a great thing for the families and for the girls.  It was started as a "well--let's give it 3 months and see what happens" kind of thing, and it's been fabulous.

post #20 of 20

thank-you for your reply. This is a wonderful solution for those that can make it work ( logistically, financially, etc). We have a 7 year old who needs A LOT more care and monitoring and programming but I agree that your friends have found a great solution for higher functioning young adults, I have seen these types of arrangements work as well!!!

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