When Sylvia Worden sought a group home for her developmentally disabled adult daughter, she became frustrated. It wasn't the quality of the homes that frustrated her. Actually, the quality often impressed her. It was the lack of vacancy. Getting into one of the homes required long waits, and even then the chances of entry were slim.
What makes a good group home?
Sylvia had certain requirements. She wanted an adequately staffed home where her daughter would be safe and loved. She wanted her daughter to belong to a community of people like herself, a place where her daughter could interact socially and develop friendships. She also wanted a home where her daughter would have opportunities to develop new life skills. Was this too tall an order? As Sylvia toured several homes, she did find some wonderful places. The problem wasn't in the existence of good homes.
Excellent group homes do exist!
One group home for the developmentally disabled in San Diego County consisted of 10 houses, a community vegetable garden, an orchard, and family-style meals. The organization was unique in that it made a lifetime commitment to its residents. Sylvia and her daughter both thought it would be wonderful to live there and be able to make long-term friendships. The catch? Getting in. There wasn't a waiting list, but there was an interest list. When a rare vacancy came up, a person from the list who was judged to be a good fit in the community would be chosen.
Another group home in Santa Cruz County featured beautiful, homey houses, an art studio, and long-term resident staff members. Sylvia loved this place, too. Once again, she learned that her chances of getting in were slim. New government guidelines basically restricted the expansion of current homes because they believed the homes operated better with less people. The group homes would not be eliminated, but they couldn't be replicated.
Should admittance into a group home be so difficult?
Others like Sylvia and her daughter struggle to get into a community for the developmentally disabled. This is unfortunate. Who is right? The government doesn't want to create a problem of too many people to care for. Sylvia doesn't want her daughter to be left out because of government guidelines. Where does the solution lie?
If interested in learning more about this and related topics, visit the Behavioral Health section of our blog.
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