Virginia and many other states are moving away from institutionalized settings and transitioning to community –based residential services. Group homes remain the primary option for community residential placement. However, options such as sponsored residential services are also becoming popular alternatives to group home placement. Sponsored residential services are very similar to adult foster care in that an individual or family take a person with a disability into their home and provides care. I’m often asked by people who want to become sponsors about the process. So I will provide a general breakdown of the application and certification process.
1. Apply for a position with a Sponsor Agency- The sponsor agency is responsible for ensuring that all sponsors and homes meet the necessary state requirements. The application process is just like any other job application requiring a copy of your resume and application. The state reimburses the agency, which then pays the sponsor for providing services. Requirements may vary slightly from agency to agency but here are the general requirements that most agencies are looking for in a sponsor:
*Be at least 18 years old (some agencies might require a higher minimum age). Also an 18 year old is less likely to have adequate experience unless they have cared for a relative.
* Have at least a high school diploma or GED
*Have some experience working with people who have an intellectual, developmental, or other kind of disability.
*Have the ability to provide direct care which might require lifting, grooming, and/or assisting with toileting. This will of course depend on the individual’s level of disability.
*Have the writing skills to complete daily documentation such as progress notes and other reports.
*Be able to pass a criminal background check and have no founded cases of abuse/neglect with child or adult protective services. You might also be subject to a DMV check as well as a drug test depending on the agency.
*Have the ability to maintain financial stability and cover their expenses for 90 days. This is often determined through home equity and credit. The purpose of this is to ensure that the home can withstand a significant delay in payment since the process can be quite lengthy from application to certification. In some cases, a couple will have one person assigned as the primary staff while the other spouse continues to maintain employment elsewhere and serves as relief staff as needed. This can offset any delay in payment and show financial stability.
2. Complete the necessary trainings- The required trainings usually consist of CPR/First Aid, Medication Administration, Managing Aggressive Behaviors, Documentation and DMAS compliance. This is often the most time-consuming stage of the process because of scheduling and availability of specific trainings. Completing the necessary training can take anywhere from 3-6 months.
3. Complete inspection from licensure- Sponsor homes are subject to the same regulations and oversight as group homes. Case managers also make regular visits to the home just as they would a group home to monitor services. State licensing specialists inspect the home to ensure the home is up to code and have the individuals human rights prominently displayed as they would in a group home.
4. Other Requirements- Additional requirements may be requested by the sponsor agency. Here is a brief list but they can vary from agency to agency.
*Proof of home owners insurance
*Adequate water and other emergency supplies
5. Get matched with a client- The final stage is to finally get matched with a client. This can also be time consuming because the availably of clients depends a number of factors including gender, level of disability, behavioral history, and medical needs. All of these factors need to be considered before placement. This is another reason why the proposed sponsor home must have the ability to cover expenses for that 90 day period. Even after a client is matched and approved, the services still need to be authorized at the state level which can take additional time.
Residential sponsors can earn well over $50,000 per year and can have up to two residents in their home. This income is also exempt from taxes, which can be an extra incentive.