A Pilot Test and Initial Validation of a Quality Rating Scale for Florida's Residential Group Homes

      Shamra Boel-Studt (Principal Investigator), PhD, Florida State University


The Group Care Quality Standards Statewide Workgroup was established by the Florida Department of Children and Families and the Florida Coalition for Children to develop a set of core quality standards for Department licensed residential group homes. The creation of the Standards is part of an on-going initiative to ensure children receive high quality, needed services that surpass the minimum thresholds currently assessed through licensing. The workgroup engaged key stakeholders, research experts, child advocates, youth formerly in foster care as well as the Florida Institute for Child Welfare to collaborate on the development and finalizing of a core set of quality standards specific to residential group homes.  In September 2015, DCF leadership reviewed and approved the quality standards for operationalizing through the licensing process. Following approval of the Standards, the Institute took the lead in developing an instrument to assess the Standards.  


Group Care Quality Rating Assessment

The Group Care Quality Rating Scale is being designed to assess the extent to which conditions and services provided in Florida’s residential group homes meet the thresholds of quality as defined by the Core Quality Standards for Residential Group Homes (2015). The rating scale is being piloted as a multi-dimensional, multi-informant assessment. The assessment is designed to be implemented as part of the Department’s annual re-licensing inspection.



On October 31, 2016, the pilot was kicked off with a two-day orientation and training. A test pilot is being conducted with the Department’s Central service region. The purpose of the pilot is to evaluate the draft implementation protocol and the rating scale starting with a small sample of group homes (n = 11). By partnering with the regional licensing team and group home providers, the team will evaluate the protocol under ‘real-world’ conditions. Evaluation data and stakeholder feedback will be used to adapt and refine the protocol. Additionally, pilot survey data will be used to identify potentially reliable data sources and to initially assess item performance, scaling, and scoring procedures. The pilot study and a debriefing with regional stakeholders will be followed by revisions to the assessment and further reviews in preparation for the field test scheduled to begin in 2017.