Quality Standards for Residential Group Care

Effective July 1, 2017, Section 409.996 (22) of the Florida Statute was amended, requiring the Department of Children and Families (DCF or Department) to develop a statewide accountability system for residential group care providers based on measurable quality standards. The accountability system must be implemented by July 1, 2022. In collaboration with the Florida Coalition for Children (FCC) and the Florida Institute for Child Welfare (FICW), the Department established a core set of quality standards for licensed group homes (Group Care Quality Standards Workgroup, 2015). The Department engaged the FICW to develop and validate a comprehensive assessment tool, the Group Care Quality Standards Assessment(GCQSA). The GCQSA will serve as the core measure for the statewide accountability system. The quality accountability system initiative draws upon research and empirically-driven frameworks to transform residential services through the integration of research-informed practice standards, on-going assessment, and continuous quality improvement. 

Group Care Quality Standards Assessment

The Group Care Quality Standards (2015) outline a set of research-informed practice standards across eight domains:

  1. Assessment and Service Planning
  2. Safe, Positive Environment
  3. Monitoring and Reporting Processes
  4. Family, Culture, and Spirituality
  5. Staff Training and Supervision
  6. Program Elements
  7. Education and Life Skills
  8. Transition and Discharge Planning

The Group Care Quality Standards Assessment (GCQSA) is a multi-dimensional, multi-informant assessment of research-informed quality practice standards. Building upon a quality enhancement orientation, the GCQSA is designed to provide a reliable and valid assessment of quality care targeted to practices within residential care settings. Based on frameworks of implementation science and practice, the implementation framework for the GCQSA consists of eight phases: 1) Advocacy and engagement, 2) Establishing the Group Care Quality Standards, 3) Developing the GCQSA, 4) Feasibility study, 5) Implementation pilot, 6) Statewide pilot, 7) Validation studies, and 8) Full implementation (for details see Boel-Studt, Huefner,& Huang, 2019).

Nearly two years into the project, continued advocacy efforts by the Florida Department of Children and Families and workgroup leaders lead to the passing of H.B. 1121 during the 2017 legislative session. The work of the project team including the Group Care Quality Standards (Group Care Quality Standard Work Group 2015), the FGCQSA along with a successful feasibility study and on-going implementation pilot provided strong impetus for passing the bill including the following language:

The Department shall develop, in collaboration with the Florida Institute for Child Welfare, lead agencies, service providers, current and former foster children placed in residential group care and other community stakeholders, a statewide accountability system based on measurable quality standards (FL HB 1121, 2017, p. 82).

Most recently, the GCQSA was successfully piloted statewide providing data for 238 licensed residential facilities. A total of 1,516 GCQSA forms were completed by a combination of youth, residential care providers, lead agencies, and licensing specialists. To date, the GCQSA has demonstrated evidence of internal consistency reliability and content, ecological, and factorial validity. The final phases of validation will focus on construct validity and inter-rater reliability. Additionally, an outcomes development pilot study will focus on exploring potential outcomes measures to be used in conjunction with the GCQSA for Florida’s residential programs. Together, these measures can be used to document and facilitate high quality and effective residential services.


Annual Reports

  2015-2016 Report     2016-2017 Report     2017-2018 Report

  2018-2019 Report     2019-2020 Report   2020-2021 Report



Published Materials

executive summary of the fy 2019-2020 annual report: an assessment of quality standards for Florida's department of children and families licensed residential group homes

  View Executive Summary


An Assessment of Quality Standards for Florida’s Department of Children and Families Licensed Residential Group Homes: Results from the Statewide Pilot

  View Research Report

The purpose of the statewide pilot was to begin implementing the GCQSA in all six regions, giving stakeholders in each region an opportunity to become familiar with the assessment while providing ongoing monitoring and technical support. Assessment data were collected for one year from the full population of licensed residential care programs throughout Florida. Analyses of these data included: 1) program and sample descriptives; 2) GCQSA psychometrics; 3) GCQSA domain/item correlations with program indicators; and 4) GCQSA baseline results and supporting themes from open-ended responses.


Re-visioning Residential Care Services for Children and Youth: The Family First Prevention Services Act & the Group Care Quality Standards Assessment

  View Research Brief



The Development and Validation of an Assessment of Quality Standards for Family Residential Group Homes

  View Presentation



 Boel-Studt, S., Huefner, J. C., & Huang, H. (2019). The Group Care Quality Standards Assessment: A framework for assessment, quality improvement, and effectiveness. Children and Youth Services Review, 28. doi.org/10.1016/j.childyouth.2019.104425

 Boel-Studt, S., Huefner, J. C., Bender, K., Huang, H., & Abell, N. (2018). Developing quality standards and performance measures for residential group care: Translating theory to practice. Residential Treatment for Children and Youth, 1-22. doi.org/10.1080/0886571X.2018.15

 Huefner, J. C. (2018). Crosswalk of published quality standards for residential care for children and adolescents. Children and Youth Services Review88, 267-273.

 Group Care Quality Standards Workgroup. (2015). Quality Standards for group care. Boys Town, NE: Boys Town Press. 



 Boel-Studt, S. (presented 2019, August). The Group Care Quality Standards Assessment: Transforming residential services through the integration of evidence-supported practice standards. Paper presented at 2019 National Child Welfare Evaluation Summit, Children's Bureau, Washington, DC. 

 Boel-Studt, S., & Odum, Z. (presented 2019, July). The Group Care Quality Standards Assessment: Preliminary Findings from the Statewide Pilot and Next Steps. Paper presented at the meeting of the Florida Coalition for Children, Orlando, FL. 

 Boel-Studt, S., & Huefner, J. C. (presented 2019, April). The Florida Group Care Quality Standards Assessment: Updates from a statewide initiative to promote quality residential care. Paper presented at the meeting of Association of Children's Residential Centers, New Orleans, LA.

 Huang, H., & Boel-Studt, S. (presented 2018, November). Analyzing stakeholder participation and response patterns to develop a targeted, multi-informant assessment. Paper presented at the meeting of Council on Social Work Education.

Other Materials from the Institute that relate to Residential Group Care

The Sanctuary Model: Enhancing the Quality of Group Care in Florida

  View Research Report


Improving the Quality of Residential Group Care: A Review of Current Trends, Empirical Evidence, and Recommendations

  View Technical Report

Legacy Sort
Legacy Priority
title-inside title-centered