The Implementation of Maternity Group Home Programs: Serving Pregnant and Parenting Teens in a Residential Setting. How Are Maternity Group Homes Staffed?


Although maternity group homes tend to offer many of the same types of services to pregnant and parenting teens, they use a variety of different staffing strategies to serve their residents. Each maternity group home program must decide how many and what types of staff to use to supervise its residents and to provide each service the home offers. This section describes the staffing patterns these homes use to deliver the array of services discussed in Chapter III.

Number of Staff Members. Operating a residential program for pregnant and parenting teens and their children can require a large staff. On average, the homes we visited had 11 staff members (including both full-time and part-time staff), and about 8 full-time equivalent (FTE) staff (Table IV.1). The number of staff members varies considerably across the homes we visited, however, ranging from 4 to 28 FTE staff (4 to 39 total staff).

Table IV.1. Numbers of Full-Time and Part-Time Staff in Maternity Group Home Programs
Program (State) Number of Staff Members per Home Number of Full-Time
Equivalent Staff
(Estimate) a
Full-Time Part-Time Total
GCAPP Second Chance Homes (Georgia) 4 to 6 3 to 7 7 to 13 5.5 to 9.5
St. Andre Group Homes (Maine) 6 1 7 6.5
Teen Living Program (Massachusetts) 2 to 7 3 to 11 5 to 17 3.5 to 11.5
Teen Parent Supportive Housing Services Collaborative (Michigan) 4 to 8 1 to 13 6 to 21 5.0 to 14.5
Teen Parent Program
(New Mexico)
2 to 5 1 to 8 4 to 10 3.5 to 6.0
Inwood House Maternity Residence (New York) 17 22 39 28
Friends of Youth Transitional Living Program (Washington) 1 to 2 5 to 7 7 to 8 4.5
Overall Range 1 to 17 1 to 22 4 to 39 3.5 to 28.0
Overall Mean 5.3 5.8 11.0 8.2
a In computing full-time equivalent (FTE) staffing levels, we assumed that all part-time staff are half-time.

GCAPP = Georgia Campaign for Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention.

The number of staff members needed at a home depends on the number of its residents; however, resident-to-staff ratios vary considerably across the homes we visited. Some had fewer than one FTE staff member for every three resident families, while others had more than two FTE staff members for each resident family. About half of the homes we visited had more FTE staff than residents, while the other half had more residents than staff. Several program features seem to be correlated with staffing levels:

  • Number of Residents. Smaller homes tend to have more staff per resident — perhaps because larger homes benefit from economies of scale. The average capacity of homes with more than one FTE staff member per resident family is about 8, while the average capacity among homes with fewer staff members than residents is about 10. The existence of economies of scale in staffing is not surprising, since some program services can be provided to several residents at once. For example, providing overnight supervision typically requires only one staff person, regardless of whether there are 3 resident families or 16. Similarly, life skills classes can be held with a larger number of young mothers without increasing staffing needs.
  • Type of Home. Apartment-model group homes tend to need fewer staff members than congregate-model homes. More than two-thirds of all congregate-model homes in our study had a staff-to-resident family ratio greater than 1:1. In contrast, only one of the apartment-model homes we visited had such a high staff ratio. This may be due, at least in part, to the fact that apartment-model homes tend to provide less supervision to their residents. All but one of the homes visited with 24-hour-awake staff are congregate-model homes.
  • Specific Population Served. Certain populations — such as younger teens or those placed in the homes by child welfare agencies — may require more supervision than others. For example, because the maternity group home network in Georgia serves primarily teen mothers in state custody, the network had to negotiate with the state to develop a specific set of rules for regulating these homes. State licensing requirements determine the staffing ratios during waking and sleeping hours and require homes in the Georgia programto have 24-hour-awake staff. Massachusetts, as mentioned above, has a continuum of homes with different levels of supervision, so that they can place younger or less mature teens in more heavily supervised settings. Staff at some homes that do not serve young teens or those in state custody noted that they cannot do so because the staffing and other licensing requirements would result in prohibitively high program costs.

Group Home Staff and Their Roles. Most homes employ a mix of full-time and part-time staff members, as well as a mix of degreed professionals and relatively unskilled staff. On average, the homes in our study employ about five full-time and six part-time staff members (Table IV.1).1

The number of staff members varies considerably across homes, however. Among the homes we visited, the number of full-time staff ranges from 1 to 17, and the number of part-time staff ranges from 1 to 22.

The staff members employed by maternity group homes tend to fall into four categories:

  • Director. A typical home has a director who is responsible for the overall management of the home. Some homes also have an assistant director to support the director in these duties. The director usually has final authority to make decisions about service delivery, staffing, and often admissions — within any guidelines set by the home’s network or managing organization. Some directors spend part of their time working directly with residents, while others perform purely management functions. In some homes, the director is responsible for the home’s budget and funding, while in other cases financial tasks are handled by staff at the managing organization. Directors tend to work regular business hours. They are most often full-time, although some split their time among multiple homes or between a maternity home and another program operated by the same organization. For example, the two maternity group homes run by Friends of Youth in Washington share both a program director and an assistant program director with three other residential programs.


The Families First Second Chance Home in College Park, Georgia has five full-time and four part-time staff members serving eight resident families. The home’s director spends half her time administering the home and the rest of her time on other Families First programs. The full-time group home supervisor, a masters-level social worker and licensed counselor, oversees the daily functioning of the home and also provides weekly individual therapy and case management services to each resident. The other full-time staff members are an activities coordinator — who teaches the parenting classes and handles referrals, assessments, and follow-up services — and three full-time house parents (two of whom are a married couple) who live in private apartments within the group home facility. The home also has three part-time staff members to provide supervision during weekend hours when the house parents have time off.

  • Case Manager. Case management staff typically work with residents individually, to help them set and pursue personal goals and to discuss their progress and challenges. Case managers also make referrals to ensure that residents get necessary services the homes cannot provide directly. In homes with multiple case managers, each resident is typically assigned to a specific case manager. Some homes have additional, specialized case managers who focus on a particular task, such as outreach, referrals, or serving a special population, for example, former residents or fathers.(2) In some homes, licensed social workers perform case management duties, while in others staff members with less training fill this role.
  • Youth Supervisor. The bulk of maternity group home staff members are youth supervisors, who provide general supervision and have the most day-to-day contact with residents. These staff members tend to have lower levels of education than program directors and case managers. They provide a wide variety of services, ranging from enforcing house rules to helping with cooking and shopping to simply spending time with residents. Youth supervisors often teach informal or ad hoc lessons about child rearing and life skills. In some homes, they also lead formal parenting and life-skills classes. In homes that offer transportation or child care assistance to their residents, youth supervisors provide these services. These staff members are responsible for the around-the-clock supervision the homes offer. Therefore, they often work flexible schedules to cover all shifts. Some youth supervisors are full-time, while others are part-time. Many homes have a mixture of both. Some homes have a few regularly scheduled youth supervisors, plus a pool of part-time “on-call” or “relief” staff who fill in as needed — on weekends, for example, or when other staff are on vacation — and who may work only a few hours a week. At the other extreme, some youth supervisors are “house parents,” who live in apartments within the group home and are on-call 24 hours a day when they are on duty.
  • Other Support Staff. Some larger homes have additional staff members who fill necessary roles in the home but who may not work directly with the residents — for instance, maintenance staff to perform repairs or a cook to prepare meals. Similarly, some homes have administrative support staff to perform clerical, accounting, and research tasks. However, most of the homes we visited rely on their directors to fill these functions.

External Staff Who Provide Support Services. In addition to their own staff members, maternity group homes often rely on external providers to perform certain services, such as teaching classes or providing therapy to residents. These staff members typically come to the home only on a regularly scheduled day (often weekly or monthly) to provide a specific service. The homes we visited relied on three types of external staff:

  • Unpaid Partners. These external staff members are either employed by other organizations (and therefore not paid by the maternity group home program) or are unpaid volunteers from the community. For example, the Washington program has staff members from the Program for Early Parent Support come to the homes monthly to teach the program’s parenting classes. A group called Horizons for Homeless Children furnished on-site play areas at two maternity homes in Massachusetts, in addition to providing staff to play with residents’ children at the home for two hours each week. A teacher employed by the New York City school system comes to the Inwood House maternity home in New York and provides daily GED instruction to some of the residents. Using staff from partner organizations to fill these roles can save programs money, as well as build connections between the homes and other service provider organizations in their communities. New Mexico’s maternity group homes are expected to rely heavily on other providers in the community for services. State officials point to the ability of their homes to access community resources as one of the strengths of its network.
  • Paid Contractors/Consultants. Contractors and consultants play a similar role but are paid by the maternity group homes. Homes may contract with organizations or with individual professionals. For example, the St. Andre program in Maine contracts with psychiatrists to provide mental health services to residents of their homes and with the YWCA for masters-level parent educators. The New York program relies on several outside consultants to provide residents with specialized training in parenting skills, substance abuse counseling, and other areas. Relying on paid consultants can result in more expensive programs. However, when services are not readily available for free through partner organizations or unpaid volunteers, using paid consultants or contractors may be the only means of providing certain supports for residents.
  • Parent Organization Staff. Most maternity group homes are managed by larger parent organizations that run multiple programs for at-risk populations. These organizations often have staff members who provide special services (such as mental health services) to all clients the organization serves. These staff members are paid by the parent organization and may not be paid out of the budget for the maternity group home. Like unpaid partners and paid contractors, these staff members typically visit the homes at regularly scheduled intervals. For example, residents of one home in Georgia are served by a team of mental health professionals who are employed by the parent organization. This team meets regularly to discuss the plan for addressing the mental health needs of each resident of the home.

View full report


"report.pdf" (pdf, 938.04Kb)

Note: Documents in PDF format require the Adobe Acrobat Reader®. If you experience problems with PDF documents, please download the latest version of the Reader®