Shared Living Arrangement (SLA)

A Shared Living Arrangement (SLA) supports a person with a developmental disability to live with an individual or family in a home-like setting where people can help with daily activities such as meals, transportation and personal care while providing a positive social environment.

The Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities & Hospitals has supported more than 370 Rhode Islanders to move into Shared Living Arrangements. The Department works with nonprofit agencies to match clients and home providers based on shared values, hobbies and interests, and those involved in SLA’s attest to the success of the program.

Matching clients with SLA home providers is an extensive and thoughtful process, one that requires extensive personal interviews, character references, background checks and home inspections. Other factors considered during the matching process include cultural and religious values, compatibility with animals and children, and smoking preferences.

SLA home providers must meet numerous standards for behavior management and fire safety, which are reviewed during home inspections and regular on-site visits. Home providers must also participate in training on the roles and responsibilities of shared living arrangement contractors and the rights of adults with developmental disabilities.

In addition, home providers receive mandatory training on community integration, the importance of Individual Service Plans, managing access to medical and psychiatric supports, self-determination, CPR, first aid, confidentiality, and how to recognize the neglect and mistreatment of adults with developmental disabilities, including reporting requirements to BHDDH and appropriate law enforcement agencies.

Some facts about SLAs

  • Many of the same providers who run Rhode Island’s group homes also oversee SLA’s.
  • Day services continue for clients who reside in SLAs, if desired.
  • SLAs are NOT foster homes, nor do they replace a family —they provide a supportive home environment.

A person-centered focus

Rhode Island closed its state institution, the Ladd School, in 1994, and replaced it almost exclusively with group homes. While group homes were the state-of-the-art practice 35 years ago, the residential continuum has grown to include alternative models to meet the needs of people who live with developmental disabilities. These changes reflect our commitment to provide services that promote a person-centered philosophy that enables people to live in the least restrictive and most appropriate settings.

In this way, SLAs offer an alternative integrated setting to group homes for people who require 24-hour services.