This dimension covers the physical and social structure of the housing being supplied, the amount of supervision provided, house rules, restrictions and obligations. Maternity group homes range along this dimension from highly structured, nurturing, family-like environments to virtually independent living situations. Structure and supervision may be correlated with homes' target populations (for example, younger teens may require more structured living arrangements than older teens) or with costs (for example, 24-hour supervision is likely to cost more due to the need to pay salaries to additional staff).
At one extreme of this dimension are maternity group homes that provide a highly structured living situation. These are most likely congregate houses, in which teens share kitchens, living areas, and possibly even bathrooms and bedrooms with other families. They are supervised 24 hours a day, often by staff who live in the house. Curfews and restrictions on visitors are strictly enforced. Teens take turns doing chores, such as cleaning shared spaces and preparing meals for the entire household. This type of home may be more likely to serve younger teens. Some homes of this type may be the first step in a continuum, leading to a more independent housing situation still within a maternity group home program. Highly structured homes may require higher staff-to-teen ratios and thus may have higher costs per resident family. Level 1 homes in Rhode Island's network are an example on the highly structured side of this dimension; these are congregate homes in which kitchen and living areas are shared by several teen families, there is an awake staff person on duty at all times, and finances are managed by program staff (SPAN 1999).
At the other extreme are maternity group homes that provide a more independent living situation. Typically, these are clustered apartments in which each teen family has their own unit. Each teen is generally responsible for preparing her own meals, for herself and her children, and for keeping her apartment clean. Staff may reside in a separate apartment nearby or offsite and may be available less than 24 hours a day. This type of home may be more likely to serve older teens. Some homes of this type serve only teens who lived in congregate-type maternity group homes within the same network before and are moving toward entirely independent living. Level 3 homes in Rhode Island's network are an example of the independent side of this spectrum; teens live in transitional apartments, are supervised by staff only eight hours per day, and budget and manage their own finances.