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History and Overview of Inter-jurisdictional Placements: The Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children and the Safe and Timely Interstate Placement of

Children in Foster Care

The need for regulations governing the interstate movement of children was recognized in the 1950’s by a group of east coast social service administrators and children’s advocates who identified problems or barriers for children moved out of state for foster care and adoption.  Those problems/barriers included:


Failure of the current importation and exportation statutes enacted by individual states to provide protection for children;


A state’s jurisdiction regarding the child 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, and;


A state to which a child was sent was not compelled to provide supportive services or financial assistance.

The stakeholders concluded that children placed out of state are to be assured of the same protections and services that would be provided if they remained in their home states.  They must also be assured of a return to their original jurisdictions should placements prove not to be in their best interests or should the need for out-of-state services cease.

Both the great variety of circumstances which makes interstate placement of children necessary and the types of protections needed offer compelling reasons for a mechanism which regulates those placements.  An interstate compact – a contract among and between the states that enact it – is one such mechanism.  Under a compact, the jurisdictional, administrative, and human rights obligations of all the parties involved in an interstate placement can be protected.

As a result of these deliberations, the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC) was drafted. The State of New York was the first state to enact the ICPC in 1960.  The State of Tennessee enacted the ICPC in 1974 Tennessee Code Annotated (TCA) 37-4-201 et seq..  The State of New Jersey enacted the ICPC in 1989 as the 52nd jurisdiction. Currently, Puerto Rico and American Samoa are negotiating legislation for joinder.

The Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC) is the best means we have to ensure protection and services to children who are placed across state lines for foster care or as a preliminary to an adoption.  The Compact (ICPC) is a uniform law that has been enacted by all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.  

What the Compact Does:

The Compact law establishes orderly procedures for the interstate placement of children and fixes responsibility for those involved in placing the child.  The ICPC contains 10 Articles.  Each Article defines a specific function of the law including identifying the types of placements and placers subject to the law; the procedures to be followed in making an interstate placement; and the specific protections, services, and requirements brought by enactment of the law.

The Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children Procedures Manual

Revised: January, 2012                                                                                                                           Page 1

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