For a foster child who cannot safely be reunited with his birth parents, and who will not be adopted by his foster parents, it is often a very long wait for permanency. Even if there is a relative, family friend or foster to adopt family willing and able to take him in, if they live in another state, bureaucracy can slow the process to a near halt, leaving the child unnecessarily waiting for his forever family.
In an attempt to lessen that wait, United States Senators. Kirsten Gillibrand, Al Franken and Gary Peters recently introduced the Modernizing the Interstate Placement of Children in Foster Care Act. This legislation would make it easier for child welfare agencies to place children in out-of-state homes by requiring all States to have a centralized database of children in foster care.
The Act states that, “frequently children waiting to be placed with an adoptive family, relative, or foster parent in another State spend more time waiting for this to occur than children who are placed with an adoptive, family, relative, or foster parent in the same State, because of the outdated, administratively burdensome ICPC process,” and “no child should have to wait longer to be placed in a loving home simply because the child must cross a State line.”
According to The Citizen, currently five states – Indiana, Florida, South Carolina, Wisconsin and the District of Columbia – utilize a centralized database. The system, known as the National Electronic Interstate Compact Enterprise (NEICE), has reduced placement time by 30% in these states since its introduction in August 2014.
If the legislation becomes law, all states would be required to have the database in place by 2022, and grants would be available to help pay for the cost of NEICE.