Working Hand in Hand for Your Relative in Kinship Foster Care
You get an unexpected call informing you a relative who lives in another state has been placed into foster care. After the initial feeling of shock leaves, you realize immediate action must be taken. You want to bring the child into your home and give him the support he needs after such a traumatic experience, but you may be unsure of the steps involved.
Moving to another state in and of itself can be a daunting task. For a relative in kinship foster care it can be even more so. A new environment can prove to be overwhelming, especially if the child does not have all the resources needed for a successful transition. It can be overwhelming for you as well since this may be the first time you have been faced with this situation. Thankfully, in the United States, there is a system that has been put into place that protects the child and assists you in obtaining the right to care for him in your state of residence. It’s called the Interstate Compact for the Placement of Children (ICPC), and it is here to assist you with the steps you need to take in the best interest of your relative.
The History and Purpose of the Interstate Compact for the Placement of Children
What is an Interstate Compact exactly? Simply put, it is an agreement between two states. More specifically, the Interstate Compact Placement of Children offers provision for children in care who are moved from one state to the next. According to a manual produced by the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges and the American Public Human Services Association,the overall purpose of the ICPC is to protect everyone involved in the placement process (the child and the states that are affiliated).The ultimate goal is that your relative is placed in a secure environment and that all of the proper arrangements have been made so he can have full legal, medical and financial protection.
Steps and Process of the Interstate Compact for the Placement of Children
There is more than one way to initiate the ICPC process. If you have the name and contact information of your relative’s caseworker, you can reach out to him or her to be considered for kinship care. Also, if you are named as a possible caregiver by the child’s biological parents, their state (the sending state) can notify the state in which you reside (the receiving state) specifically naming you as a resource and requesting your state to license you as a resource parent. The ICPC request becomes active when you are named as a potential caregiver. A Child Welfare representative in your state of residence will then begin the required licensing process, which includes your home study. Once the home study is complete, it will be sent to the state where the child is in custody, and if the process is approved, the child will eventually be transferred to your home.
Challenges of the Interstate Compact for the Placement of Children
While the ICPC is a great benefit there are some challenges that arise. It is important to note that there is no guarantee your relative in care will be placed into your home. It is possible you will not be the only relative named that can provide care to the child. If there is another relative that offers a more viable option that is in the better interest of the child (closer to his biological parent, closer to other siblings, etc.), he will be placed in their home or stay in the care of the current foster home. Since your relative is in state custody, it is ultimately up to the Judge and the casework staff to make the final determination. Remember, their goal is to make a decision that is in the best interest of the child. Another challenge is the actual length of the process. Because you are a relative, some of the licensing process may go faster, but because you are out-of-state, the ICPC process increases this length of time. The child cannot be placed into your home until you are fully licensed.
We Are Here For You
For Licensed Resource Parents in New Jersey, Foster and Adoptive Family Services (FAFS) is here to address any questions you have concerning the ICPC process. If you have a relative in care and would like to know what steps you need to take to become licensed in New Jersey, we can get you started on that path. Our Information Line staff and FAFS Family Advocates (FFAs) are trained and eager to help you. You can reach FAFS by calling 1.800.222.0047, Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m or contacting us online.
To find resources in your area that can assist you with the ICPC process, visit the American Public Human Services Association (APHSA) here.
Know that as you go through this, you are not alone. There is help out there and doors of assistance waiting to be opened by you. Working in hand in hand with the ICPC can have your relative in your care before you know it!