The precise definition of a group home may depend on the jurisdiction in which it is found. Within the United States, a group home refers to a private home or structure where a group of unrelated people all live in a communal setting. As a rule, the residents of a group home share a similar issue or characteristic. Residents of a group home all share the common areas and help to maintain the residence with the aid of a "houseparent" or supervisor.
Recovering drug addicts or alcoholics often live in a group home setting. The residence provides stability and support until the recovering addict is able to live alone without supervision. Often, the home provides daily meetings and 24-hour support in case the addict is in jeopardy of relapsing. In addition, many recovering addicts are in danger of becoming homeless as a result of their addiction, which makes a group home a practical alternative until they are back on their feet.
Disabled individuals are another segment of the population that often reside in a group home setting. Often, an individual has a physical or mental disability that prevents him or her from safely living alone, yet the disability is not severe enough for the individual to be in a long-term secure medical facility. A group home is an excellent way for individuals such as these to maintain a certain amount of independence while still living in a supervised setting.
Children that have been removed from the primary caregiver's home are often sent to a group home if a foster family is not immediately available. Although the foster care system tries to find an appropriate home for all children in need of one, the demand often exceeds the supply. A communal residential setting allows the children to live with other children of a similar age while being properly supervised by adult staff. Foster children have frequently experienced abuse or neglect and can benefit from spending time around other children who have been in the same position.
The number of residents in a group home may vary, but will typically run between five and 20 residents. The home will be staffed at all times with at least one staff member, depending on the needs of the residents. Typically, the residents will share sleeping quarters with one or more other residents, and all residents will eat meals together. Each resident will usually be responsible for specific tasks associated with cleaning and maintaining the residence. Residents are free to come and go as they please, as a rule, as the home is not a secure facility.