Quality Standards for Residential Group Care

The Group Care Quality Standards Initiative, led by the Florida Department of Children and Families, the Florida Institute for Child Welfare Affiliates, and the Florida Coalition for Children’s Residential Committee leadership, is a collaboration between researchers, service providers, and consumers aimed at improving the quality and effectiveness of residential care for children and youth. The Group Care Quality Standards (Group Care Quality Standards Workgroup, 2015) were established by a statewide workgroup drawing upon research and best-practice guidelines (Huefner, 2018) and expertise of the workgroup members. Following the Department’s approval of the Standards, the Florida Institute for Child Welfare contracted with academic researchers from two Florida Universities to develop the Florida Group Care Quality Standards Assessment (FGCQSA) to measures group home’s performance on the standards as a mechanism for promoting quality accountability and improvement.

The FGCQSA is a multi-dimensional, multi-informant assessment of quality practice standards in the following 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

Drawing upon frameworks of implementation science and practice, the implementation framework of the FGCQSA consists of eight phases: 1) Advocacy and engagement, 2) Developing the Group Care Quality Standards, 3) Developing the FGCQSA, 4) Feasibility study, 5) Implementation pilot, 6) Statewide pilot, 7) Validation studies, and 8) Full implementation. To date, the project team has successfully completed phases 1-5. Phase six, the statewide pilot, kicked off in April 2018. The pilot began with a series of trainings including the regional licensing teams, lead contract agencies, and group care providers in all six regions. The aim of the statewide pilot is to scale up the FGCQSA throughout the state while collecting data on the measurement performance and implementation processes. The study will include over 300 Department licensed group care and shelter facilities throughout Florida. Data collection for the statewide pilot will be finalized in spring 2019. The results of the statewide pilot will guide further development of the FGCQSA and implementation process in preparation for a population-based validation study set for January 2020.

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).

The quality standards developed by the workgroup and the FGCQSA serve as the foundations of the mandated statewide accountability system for residential group care.

  Quality care in therapeutic residential programs: definition, evidence for effectiveness, and quality standards


Published Materials

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

  View Presentation

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


Residential Group Care Accountability System

  2017 Annual Report



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

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