In order for a child to be legally placed from one state to another, an Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children, or ICPC, MUST be completed. Trying to bypass this requirement will lead to whatever punishment the jurisdiction has in place. This could mean removal of the child from your home, loss of your foster care license, or the ability to adopt in the future.
The compact was drafted, and first enacted in New York in 1960. Prior to the uniform compact, each state’s jurisdiction ended at its own borders, and the state to which the child was moving did not have to offer the same services or abide by the same laws.
When the ICPC was put into law in 1960, it set up a uniform law that must be followed by all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
There are four situations in which the ICPC must be used (this wording is taken directly from the ICPC guide):
1. Placement preliminary to an adoption.
2. Placements into foster care, including foster homes, group homes, residential treatment facilities, and institutions.
3. Placements with parents and relatives when a parent or relative is not making the placement.
4. Placements of adjudicated delinquents in institutions in other states.
The compact allows the sending state (the state in which the child currently resides) to receive home studies and all documents that the receiving state (the state the child may be moved to) has, such as background checks, employment checks, etc.
The receiving state is also allowed access to the child’s file, to ensure that this placement complies with the regulations of the receiving state, and is in the best interest of the child and the family.
Each state has a Compact Administrator. The Administrator is located in a central office, usually in a department of family services office, or that state’s equivalent. This is the person in charge of handling all paperwork for the ICPC.
So how does it all work?
If you have found a child in a photolisting from another state, contact your adoption worker. They will then contact the worker for the child you are inquiring about. If the child is still available for adoption, and preliminary discussion indicates that you will be considered for the child, the sending state must notify the receiving state that they are exploring an interstate placement.
The receiving state (the state you live in) will require several documents: a completed ICPC-100A, a copy of the court order showing that the sending agency has the authority to place the child, a “social history” or case history of the child, a copy of your foster home license (if your state requires you to be a licensed foster home), an explanation of the child’s Title IV-E status, and a case plan or permanency plan. The Compact Administrator in the receiving state will also ask for a copy of your home study.
Once all the paperwork has been received, a recommendation is made as to whether or not the placement would be appropriate for everyone involved. The Compact Administrator then checks to make sure all the laws have been followed. If the recommendation is positive, and the laws are followed, then the placement will be approved.
If the recommendation is that the placement would not be favorable, or the Compact Administrator finds a problem, the placement will be denied. However, there is still a chance of changing that decision. If it is a legal issue, and the issue is corrected, the placement could still be approved. If the placement is denied, be sure to get detailed information as to the reason why.
Whether the placement is approved or denied, the Compact Administrator must send copies to the sending agency.
How long does all this take?
The recommended time from the date the receiving state receives notice of placement until the date it is accepted or denied is six weeks. There are cases where this can be processed more quickly. It can take longer if the paperwork, or your home study, is not complete.
Regulation number 7, called Priority Placement, was put into place in 1996, to accommodate special cases where a child needs to be moved more quickly. This regulation reduces the timeline from thirty business days, down to no more than twenty business days.
If the placement is not made within six months, the sending agency may reapply. The receiving state may request that the documentation be updated, but cannot require a new home study, unless the prior home study has expired. The receiving state will then determine if anything has changed that would cause the placement to be denied.
Once everything is approved, the planning for the actual placement begins. Plans must be in place with regards to which agency will monitor the family after the child is placed, and how often. Which state will pay for the child’s care? Which state will provide medical assistance? Which state will provide the adoption subsidy once the adoption is finalized?
Until the ICPC is terminated, the sending state remains legally and financially responsible for the child. It may be terminated in one of three ways.
1. Return of the child to the sending state.
2. Adoption of the child.
3. The child becomes “self-supporting or reaches the age of maturity.”
There may be other reasons that the ICPC is terminated, but those circumstances must be agreed upon before the placement of the child.
If, for any reason, the child’s status changes before the ICPC is terminated, the sending state must be notified immediately, and an ICPC-100B must be filed. Guardianship of the child is determined by the court.
The Interstate Compact on Adoption and Medical Assistance gives adoptive parents and children access to adoption assistance and medical assistance. It has been enacted by all states.