The Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC) is premised on the belief that children requiring out-of-state placement will receive the same protections and services that would be provided if they remained in their home states. The ICPC outlines the many steps necessary to place a child out-of-state.
The need for a compact to regulate the interstate movement of children was recognized in the 1950s. At that time, a group of east coast social service administrators joined informally to study the problems of children moved out-of-state for foster care or adoption. Among the problems they identified was the failure of importation and exportation statutes enacted by individual states to provide protection for children. They recognized that a state's jurisdiction ends at its borders and that a state can only compel an out-of-state agency or individual to discharge its obligations toward a child through a compact. The administrators were also concerned that a state to which a child was sent did not have to provide supportive services even though it might agree to do so on a courtesy basis. In response to these and other problems, the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children was drafted, and New York was the first state to enact it in 1960.
The Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC) is an agreement among all 50 states, the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands, that coordinates the transfer of children across state lines for the purposes of adoption, foster care, and medical treatment. The ICPC establishes uniform legal and administrative procedures governing the interstate placement of children.
Working with an ICPC case can be a frustrating experience. There are a number of problems with the way the Compact is operating in most states. There can be delays of over six months for completing the process. Such delays are usually a result of inadequate resources allocated to these cases and a lack of priority assigned to them. Some state social service systems do not even accept requests for out-of-state placements because of a lack of staff to oversee the placements. Other problems can occur because of confusion on the part of judges and social workers as to which cases fall under the requirements of the Compact. Unfortunately, courts in various states have ruled differently so there is no clear consensus.
Judges have created a variety of ways to bypass the Interstate Compact process due to the lasting damage that long delays can cause to children in placement. One method has been for judges to ask CASA programs to do "informal home studies." Programs that step around the Compact assume a tremendous liability if anything bad should happen. A CASA program as well as the individual volunteer can be found negligent if important information is not discovered and the child is injured in the placement. For this reason the National CASA Association and the CASA of Arizona program do not permit their volunteers to do home studies.
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