Group Homes Vs. Foster Care

By Abby Slutsky

Updated April 18, 2017

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Foster care and group homes are supervised living arrangements for people unable to live in a traditional family environment. There are differences and similarities between group homes and foster care.

Age of Residents

Foster care provides a temporary family or group living arrangement for minors under 18 while group homes are for adults or children who are unable to live independently.

Reasons for Placement

Children placed in foster care are often unable to live with their families because of abuse, neglect, parental imprisonment, or behavioral issues. Group living arrangements are usually for adults or children with disabilities or behavior problems.


Group homes can be financed by organizations, either profit or nonprofit, or they can be funded by the government. Foster care families are given funds by a state or county social service agency, which monitors decisions related to care.

Goals of Care

The primary goals of group homes are to either provide long-term care or to help occupants become independent so they eventually can live independently.The goal of foster care is to provide children with a safe temporary environment until they can rejoin family, become adopted, or become emancipated at the age of 18.

Meeting Needs

Both foster care and group homes often are unable to accommodate the many people in need of their services. There often are waiting lists to receive foster care or be admitted to group homes.