How to Open a Group Home in North Carolina

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A group home provides services to its residents.
A group home provides services to its residents. (Image: maison image by arabesque from <a href='http://www.fotolia.com'>Fotolia.com</a>)

A group home is a multiple-occupant residence that offers specialized care for its residents. North Carolina considers adult care or domiciliary homes and multi-unit, assisted housing under the single category of assisted living residences. Assisted living residences in North Carolina must be licensed, according to North Carolina General Statute 131 D-10.3, to provide a safe, secure and helpful atmosphere. Licensure is through the North Carolina Division of Social Services and typically takes nine to twelve months.

Setting up the facility

Seek the help of professionals. Talk to a real estate broker with commercial experience about finding the best location, representing you in the acquisition of the property and helping with contractors. Consult an attorney about compliance with regulations. Contact an accountant to assist with tax issues and setting up the organization’s books.

Purchase, rent or build the home in compliance with all appropriate zoning, health and fire safety regulations. Choose a safe and convenient location. Remodel or renovate existing buildings in accordance with federal, state and local laws. According to N.C. Admin Code Title 10, Ch. 42, and N.C. Gen. Stat. 131D-2, adult homes may have up to four residents sharing a bedroom, with a minimum 80 square feet per bed. Include sleeping rooms for residents and overnight staff, meeting, dining and activity rooms, offices and a kitchen.

Arrange for building inspectors, fire safety and health departments to inspect your group home. Obtain documentary proof of compliance with building and zoning codes, fire safety and health regulations.

Hire maintenance personnel or contract maintenance staff. At this stage, you won't a complete crew, but hire enough household and landscape personnel to maintain the physical facility.

Licensure through the North Carolina Division of Social Services

Write a business plan. Attend one of the many free on-campus or online college courses for help in creating business plans. Download critical information on business plans and structures from the North Carolina Department of Commerce.

Download and read information on the administrative rules for the type of group home you will be operating. These rules are available on the North Carolina Division of Social Services website.

Download the relevant "Inquiry to Operate a Residential Facility" form. For example, if you're opening a group home for pregnant women, download and fill out the “Initial Inquiry: Residential Maternity Home.” Fill out the form and mail or fax it to the North Carolina Division of Social Services. The form requires detailed information on your business plan, background information on the directors, building diagrams of the planned facility and information on proposed funding sources. Include all the required attachments. The agency will review the materials and if the application is accepted, will assign a consultant to help you.

Contact the Division of Social Services office to set up an appointment to discuss the rest of the application process with the consultant. The consultant will provide you with the Application to Operate your group home.

Write detailed policies and procedures according to the outline in the application. Fill out the application and mail it with all the required documentation within six months. The consultant will review the application. If the application is accepted, the consultant will visit the home and will determine whether to issue the license. If the license is issued, you can begin operating the group home.

Tips & Warnings

  • Create a checklist of steps and materials required to complete the process. Refer to it frequently and check off items as they are accomplished.
  • Carefully follow the instructions of your consultant or your license may be delayed or rejected.

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