Standards for Canadian organizations

2020 Edition

Group Living Services Definition


Group Living Services allow individuals who need additional support to regain, maintain, and improve life skills and functioning in a safe, stable, community-based living arrangement.


Group Living Services (CA-GLS) provide trauma-informed, community-based care, treatment, rehabilitation and/or support and supervision on a short- or long-term basis to individuals living in a group setting.


Viewing: CA-GLS - Group Living Services


Examples: Individuals in a group living program can include:
  1. children or youth from the child protection, juvenile justice, mental health, or education systems;
  2. children or adolescents who have been victims of human trafficking;
  3. individuals who are pregnant or parenting;
  4. adults or children transitioning from a more intensive setting;
  5. adults or children with developmental and/or physical disabilities;
  6. adults with serious and persistent mental health conditions;
  7. adults with substance use conditions; or
  8. older adults who require a structured group living situation.

Examples: A trauma-informed program may be described as one that:
  1. routinely screens for trauma exposure and related symptoms;
  2. uses culturally and linguistically appropriate evidence-based assessment and treatment for traumatic stress and associated mental health symptoms;
  3. makes resources available to children, families, and providers on trauma exposure, its impact, and treatment;
  4. engages in efforts to strengthen the resilience and protective factors of children and families impacted by and vulnerable to trauma;
  5. addresses parent and caregiver trauma and its impact on the family system;
  6. emphasizes continuity of care and collaboration across child-serving systems; and
  7. maintains an environment of care and provides access to needed services for staff to address, minimize, and treat secondary traumatic stress, and increase staff resilience.
Note: Group Living Services are distinct from Residential Treatment Services (CA-RTX), which provide an interdisciplinary, 24-hour-a-day structured program and therapeutic service array. The service needs of individuals in group living are not as intensive as those in residential treatment. As such, group living programs are less restrictive in nature.

Transitional housing programs are separately reviewed under Shelter Services (CA-SH).
Organizations that provide adventure-based programming will also complete the Experiential Education Supplement (CA-EES).

Note: Though the term trafficking is used throughout this section, there are additional terms that may be utilized, including sex trafficking, commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC), domestic minor sex trafficking, and minor prostitution. The term victim is commonly used when referring to individuals who have been trafficked to emphasize that they have been coerced and exploited, though the term survivor may also be used.

Note: Please see CA-GLS Reference List for the research that informed the development of these standards.

Note: For information about changes made in the 2020 Edition, please see the GLS Crosswalk.