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Can a Parent Voluntarily Place a Child in Group Home Without Other Parent’s Consent?

The answer to the above question will surely depend on the situation of things. It is a well – established principle that before treating a patient, a physician or other healthcare provider must obtain the consent of that patient. What is a relatively simple proposition becomes more complex when it involves a child or a minor.

In most states, age 18 is the age of maturity and thus, before placing a child under the age of 18, consent must be obtained from the child’s parent or legal guardian. Although this seems relatively straightforward; however, with today’s reality of blended families and children being chauffeured around by extended families and other caregivers, it is not always easy to determine who has legal authority to grant consent or place a child in a group home.

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If the child’s parents are separated or divorced, reasonable steps are expected to be taken to determine which parent(s) has the legal authority to consent to the placement, to what extent each parent must be involved in the decision – making process, and who may access information regarding the child.

However, it should not be presumed that just because one parent is accompanying or taking care of the child that he or she has the sole authority to give consent. Note that when a couple divorces (or when a divorce is pending), the court will typically grant primary residential custody to one parent with rights of visitation given to the other.

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But note that both parents, however, will usually be granted legal custody, which allows them each to make decisions regarding their child’s health and to receive information regarding the same. That is why health professionals are advised to always ask for a copy of the divorce decree or custody agreement when treating children of divorced or divorcing parents.

Although either parent may legally be allowed to give consent to placement, if a child is going to be gone for a period of time—and particularly if medication is going to be given—it is helpful to meet with both parents to get consensus as to the care plan. Note that this will help ensure that the care plan is followed regardless of whom the child was staying with.

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In addition, in the event that someone other than a parent, such as a grandparent or stepparent, is looking to place the child in a group home, it is recommended that there be a discussion with both parents acknowledging and agreeing to this arrangement and that this agreement be committed to writing carefully documenting the limits of that individual’s authority.

Important Things Parents Should Consider Before Moving Their Child into a Group Home

No parent ever wants to imagine having to place their child in a group home. But sometimes, a residential setting is the best place for a troubled teen that needs intensive help. Group homes offer therapy, 24 – hour supervision and support to troubled teens in a home – like setting.

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Note that unlike large residential treatment facilities or psychiatric hospitals, group homes serve a small number of teens. They reside in a family – like setting with trained staff. Here are very important factors parents should consider before moving their child into a group home.

  1. Is the Home Proactive in Developing The Residents?

Have it in mind that any group home you hope to put your loved one in needs to be innovative, active in the community, invested in their social life balance and devoted to enhancing life skills. As a parent, you want your child to be somewhere that will improve their quality of life.

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It is very imperative for your child to enjoy and live the best life possible while being a resident of a facility. If the organization does not exhibit any initiative to improve their services, programming, or curriculum, then you may want to look elsewhere.

  1. The Census

Also remember to ask questions about the demographics of people living in group homes. Have it in mind that the activity level of the home as a whole may be based on the majority of the residents. Seniors living in a residential facility may want to relax more while younger adults may want to be active outdoors, listen to loud music, or play video games.

  1. Find Out How the Employees Feel About the Organization

As a parent, it is your job to extensively research the group home that is going to be responsible for taking care of your child, and there is no better way to do this than by visiting websites with employee reviews. Glassdoor, Indeed, and Great Place to Work are a few sites you can use to analyze employees’ feelings about the agency.

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Note that visiting the sites can give you a feel for the organization’s culture, the pros and cons of working there, and the wages. The information is valuable to you because it gives an insider’s view of the business. For instance, if the workers are unhappy with the leadership, pay, and there are more cons than pros, then this is not the place for your child.

Note that a lot of negatives usually indicate high turnovers which can be counterproductive in your loved one’s livelihood. Reports have it that most jobs with high satisfaction rates usually have employees who are dedicated, committed, and involved in doing their job to the best of their ability. Therefore, happy workers usually equate to better quality and service.

  1. Is the Organization Involved in the Community?

In the United States, community involvement is crucial to the overall financial health of any group home. A lot of social service agencies are nonprofits and receive funding from various sources but mainly through fundraising tactics. Have it in mind that bringing valuable attention to a cause requires outreach, interactions and partnerships with stakeholders, consumers, and companies.

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If the group home is not active in the community, it usually means that outings outside of the facility are probably scarce, there aren’t many partnerships, the volunteer base isn’t up to par, and contributions are probably weak. What does this mean for your child?

It means that their social life may not be as active as it would be in a residential facility that receives local support from businesses, sponsors, volunteers, and the workforce. In addition, the availability to get innovative equipment, help from outside sources and extracurricular activities is probably limited.

  1. Ask For a Tour

Once you figure out group homes of your choice, it is imperative to schedule a tour. The tour will give you a feel of the everyday life of the residents, and it will let you know if others living there are happy with the services they receive.

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During this tour, you should hear testimonies of the services being offered, and you should also ask the staff how they feel about working there and why they enjoy their job. You will be surprised by the answers, and you will be able to see if they are sincere or just buying time until a better job comes along.


Whether a teen is struggling with mental health issues like an eating disorder, substance abuse problems, or self – harm issues, a group home can provide a structured, therapeutic environment in which teens receive assistance in making emotional and behavioural changes.

Although either parent may legally be allowed to give consent to placement, if a child is going to be gone for a period of time—and particularly if medication is going to be given—it is helpful to for both parents to give consents as to the care plan.