The Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children Implemented Beyond State Borders
The ICPC, Or Interstate Compact on The Placement Of Children, Is A Mutual Agreement Between the Child’s State Of Origin and the Receiving State Which Encompasses a Variety Of Cases, Including Adoption, Foster Care, and Placement With Family Members.
In a perfect world, children would be born into a safe family environment in which they grow and thrive physically and emotionally and remain in that family unit until adulthood. Sometimes, however, a child enters the world without that safe family environment to come home to, or their home environment later becomes unsafe due to abuse, neglect, or abandonment.
In these situations, it may be necessary for the state to remove the child from the home and place the child either in a relative’s home or into the foster care system. Ideally, the child will be placed in a home environment with or near family, together with the child’s other siblings, and within the same school district if the child is of school age.
Furthermore, it is a priority in the State of New Jersey and in many other states to place the child in a home within the state. However, while in-state placement may be ideal, it is not always possible, nor is it always the best option in every situation. Sometimes, it may be in the child’s best interest for the child to be placed in a home located in another state.
Ensuring the Child’s Wellbeing Through the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC)
Out-of-state placement of a child, if not well organized and monitored, could come with a host of challenges and concerns, like ensuring the safety of a new home through home studies, monitoring the child, and making sure the child has access to the services they require. In furtherance of these goals, every state in the U.S., along with Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C., have signed on to the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC).
This interstate agreement aims to ensure that both the sending state (the child’s home before the out-of-state placement) and the receiving state (where the child is placed) are charged with fulfilling certain delineated responsibilities.
Guidelines for Placing Children Beyond NJ State Borders
The ICPC makes the roles and responsibilities of each state’s respective agencies clear and agreed upon. The requirements set forth under the ICPC are not mere guidelines. Rather, New Jersey (and all other 49 signatory states) are legally obligated to comply with the ICPC. This ensures that no child falls through the cracks and there is oversight of the entire placement process and the child’s well-being after placement.
Under the ICPC, the sending state maintains legal jurisdiction over the child’s case and any related custody hearings. The receiving state is responsible for conducting a home study of the prospective placement home, and the sending state has the right to obtain the report from that study. The sending state is also entitled to receive updates and reports regarding the child’s progress after placement in the receiving state.
The sending state has significant influence in determining whether the out-of-state placement is in the best interests of the child, whereas the receiving state will determine if the placement would be contrary to the interests of the child based on the home study they conduct.
Common Types of Cases Where ICPC Implementation Might Be Necessary
The ICPC applies to various cases in which a child is placed by a state agency into a home outside of that state. Some of the types of cases where the ICPC applies include cases in which a child is adopted out-of-state, a child is reunified with a birth parent who is out-of-state, a child is being placed in the care of a relative who lives out-of-state, in a residential treatment center, or with a foster family or at a foster group home.
It is possible that an out-of-state placement into the foster care system of a neighboring state may be deemed to be the best possible option for the child if there is a lack of better options in the sending state. However, the majority of out-of-state placements falling under the ICPC involve a child being placed with that child’s relatives who reside in the receiving state.
The ICPC does not apply to any cases where a court does not have jurisdiction of a child, including custody arrangements following a divorce, nor does it apply to placements within tribal nations. These placements are instead governed under the Indian Child Welfare Act. The Compact also does not apply to “visits” in which a child may stay in a place temporarily, for less than 30 days or during the child’s school vacation time, for a social or cultural experience.
Go Over Your Interstate Placement Case with an Experienced New Jersey Firm
If you are a parent of a child who has been removed from the home by DCPP or a family relative who is concerned about an out-of-state placement of a child, our DYFS/DCPP defense attorneys, who are experienced in dealing with these cases, can help. We know what it takes to defend your parenting fitness and fight tooth and nail to reunite you and your children in New Jersey. We also encourage you to contact us if you are an out-of-state family member of a child who has been removed from their home and you would like to petition for custody of the child. Our firm practices statewide in child abuse and neglect cases involving the Department of Children and Families and Criminal Courts in towns in Monmouth County, Bergen County, Essex County, Ocean County, Middlesex County, and elsewhere in New Jersey.
To receive a no-charge consultation with a member of our experienced team of New Jersey DCPP lawyers, please contact us today at (908)-356-6900.