Adopting a child across state or county lines requires the same steps as any adoption yet can create additional layers of paperwork and requires more communication. The difference, of course, is that placements across state lines are subject to the procedures outlined in the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC).
What is the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children?
The Interstate Compact is essentially a contract that all 50 states, Washington, DC, and the US Virgin Islands have agreed to. It establishes procedures for ensuring the safety and stability of placements of children across state lines.
The ICPC requires that families comply with the laws of their own state and of the sending state (where the child lives). To comply, the “sending state,” where the child lives, and the “receiving state,” where the family lives, must share a great deal of information. States exchange information through ICPC compact administrators, who also review the information for completeness and compliance with their state’s laws.
- Find answers to frequently asked questions about ICPC on the Association of Administrators of the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children website.
- Search a database of state statutes at the Child Welfare Information Gateway website.
- Access publications and webinars about making interjurisdictional placements, including our sending-state checklist (241 KB PDF) and receiving-state checklist (210 KB PDF).
- Read a helpful guide to the ICPC on the American Public Human Services Association website.
The Steps Involved in an Interstate Adoption
- The child’s agency initiates the process by requesting a home study and creating a packet that includes a form (ICPC 100-A) and information about the child’s needs.
- The agency sends the packet to the ICPC compact administrator in the child’s state. They review it and forward it to the compact administrator in the family’s state.
- The receiving state’s compact administrator reviews the information and forwards it to the family’s agency.
- The family’s agency conducts a home study and makes a recommendation about the suitability of the placement. The administrators in both states review the home study and recommendation.
- If the child is placed, the role of supervising the child’s placement and ensuring that their needs are met and services are received transfers to the family’s agency. They provide periodic reports to the child’s agency through the compact administrators.
- The sending state retains legal and financial responsibility for the child until they are legally adopted, reach the age of majority, or become self-supporting.
Costs and Benefits with Placement in Another State?
Monthly adoption subsidies are usually paid for by the sending state at the rate of the receiving state for foster care and at the rate of the sending state for adoption. For example, if a child moves from California to New York for a foster placement, California pays the New York foster care reimbursement rate. But if the child is moving to New York to be adopted, then California will pay the California rate, even if the parents are foster parents at the time.
Health coverage is different. For children eligible for Title IV-E federal adoption benefits Medicaid coverage transfers to the state where the adoptive family lives. Coverage is granted automatically, but parents may need to complete a form.
When the child has special needs and qualifies for state- or federally funded adoption assistance, a second agreement, the Interstate Compact on Adoption and Medical Assistance (ICAMA), comes into play. It ensures seamless transfer of Medicaid and eliminates the need for new eligibility determinations when children move to a new state.
How long does the interstate adoption process usually take?
Federal law requires that interstate home studies are completed within 60 days. Placement of the child must be made within six months of approval. Electronic transfer of records and border agreements can reduce the amount of time it takes to accomplish an interstate placement. In cases of domestic infant adoption across state lines, hopeful adoptive paretns should add in extra time for the ICPC to be processed post-birth.
National Electronic Interstate Compact Enterprise (NEICE)
NEICE is a federal project facilitating electronic transfer of records. Participating states report a substantial saving of time and costs.Read more and find a list of states using NEICE on the website of the Association of Administrators of the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children.
Border agreements are just that—contracts that are entered into among neighboring states to expedite placements while ensuring that children’s safety and access to resources they need. Agreement details vary by state. For example, a border agreement might allow workers to conduct home studies in another jurisdiction or families to complete pre-service training in another county or region.You can find a list of border agreements for your state at the ICPC State Pages website.
State Child Abuse Registries
AdoptUSKids has compiled this listing of state child abuse registry contacts to help you conduct the background checks required by the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act.