Standards for public agencies

2020 Edition

Group Living Services (PA-GLS) 14: Residential Facilities

Residential facilities contribute to a physically and psychologically safe, healthy, non-institutional, homelike environment.


“Homelike” settings are assessed within the context of an agency's location and environment.
2020 Edition




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.
Note: Please see the Facility Observation Checklist for additional guidance on this standard.
Full Implementation, Outstanding Performance
A rating of (1) indicates that the agency's practices fully meet the standard and reflect a high level of capacity.  
  • All elements or requirements outlined in the standard are evident in practice, with rare or no exceptions: exceptions do not impact service quality or agency performance. 
Substantial Implementation, Good Performance
A rating of (2) indicates that an agency's infrastructure and practices are basically sound but there is room for improvement.
  • The majority of the standards requirements have been met and the basic framework required by the standard has been implemented. 
  • Minor inconsistencies and not yet fully developed practices are noted; however, these do not significantly impact service quality or agency performance.

Partial Implementation, Concerning Performance
A rating of (3) indicates that the agency's observed infrastructure and/or practices require significant improvement.  

  • The agency has not implemented the basic framework of the standard but instead has in place only part of this framework.  
  • Omissions or exceptions to the practices outlined in the standard occur regularly, or practices are implemented in a cursory or haphazard manner.  
  • Service quality or agency functioning may be compromised.  
  • Capacity is at a basic level.
Unsatisfactory Implementation or Performance
A rating of (4) indicates that implementation of the standard is minimal or there is no evidence of implementation at all.  
  • The agency’s observed service delivery infrastructure and practices are weak or non-existent; or show signs of neglect, stagnation, or deterioration.
Self-Study EvidenceOn-Site EvidenceOn-Site Activities
  • Procedures for maintaining a clean and safe environment
No On-Site Evidence
  • Interviews may include:
    1. Program director
    2. Relevant personnel
    3. Residents
  • Observe facilities and outdoor area/grounds


PA-GLS 14.01

Living quarters consist of separate cottages or units in a residential building that include:
  1. a common room, dining and/or kitchen area, and space for indoor recreation;
  2. private areas where residents can meet with family and friends; and
  3. private facilities for bathing, toileting, and personal hygiene, that are developmentally appropriate.


PA-GLS 14.02

Personal accommodations for residents are age, developmentally, gender, and culturally appropriate and include:
  1. single rooms, rooms for groups of two to four residents, and/or accommodations for larger groups, if appropriate for therapeutic reasons;
  2. adequately and attractively furnished rooms with a separate bed for each resident, including a clean, comfortable, covered mattress, pillow, sufficient linens, and blankets; 
  3. a non-stacking crib for each infant and toddler that is 24 months or younger that meets safety guidelines, as applicable; and
  4. a safe place such as a locker to keep personal belongings and valuables.
Examples: National advocacy standards suggest that single rooms have at least 100 square feet of floor space and rooms housing more than one individual have at least 80 square feet per person. Group assignments and room accommodations may be adjusted as appropriate to the service provided, therapeutic considerations, level of risk, or developmental appropriateness.

Examples: The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) provides standards to ensure safety for full-size and non-full size cribs. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that cribs are used by children under 90 centimeters (35 inches) tall.


PA-GLS 14.03

Agencies that serve families house families as a unit and keep sibling or family groups together, when possible.
NA The program does not serve family units, or housing families as a unit is not possible or prohibited by law.


PA-GLS 14.04

Residents participate actively in:
  1. decorating and personalizing their sleeping area;
  2. choosing clothing based on their personal preferences;
  3. food preparation and meal planning; and
  4. contributing to decisions about how to make living areas inviting, comfortable, and reflective of the their interests and diversity.


Recognizing that there are communities where access to affordable, quality food is limited, it is important for personnel to take into consideration where residents will reside after they are discharged so healthy eating habits can continue long after they leave care.


PA-GLS 14.05

Facilities support quality therapeutic programs and settings accommodate:
  1. individual, small, and large group activities;
  2. activities that invite use of community resources;
  3. a variety of after school, evening, weekend, holiday, and school break programs for use by residents, guests, family, and community members;
  4. a variety of activities that are focused around the resident's home, community, and extended family and friends;
  5. quiet reading, study hours, and help with school assignments;
  6. individual hobbies and group projects that may be large and constructed over time; and
  7. alternatives to watching television, such as art, photography, or other creative activities.


PA-GLS 14.06

Residential facilities provide:
  1. sufficient supplies and equipment to meet residents’ needs;
  2. access to a telephone, computer, and the internet as permitted, for use by residents and personnel;
  3. adequate space for administrative support functions, food preparation, housekeeping, laundry, maintenance, and storage;
  4. rooms for providing on-site services, as applicable;
  5. accommodations for informal gathering of residents including during inclement weather;
  6. at least one room suitably furnished for the use of on-duty personnel; and
  7. private sleeping accommodations for personnel who sleep at the facility, if applicable.

Fundamental Practice

PA-GLS 14.07

Indoor and outdoor settings are clean, maintained in good condition, and promote the health and safety of personnel and residents.


The facility’s outdoor area should contain sufficient space for recreational activities. Outdoor equipment should meet playground equipment safety standards and be appropriate for the number, age, and developmental level of residents. Programs serving children should have outdoor and indoor play spaces with adequate toys, books, and other recreational supplies.