Wednesday, May 26, 2010

ICPC and Sabrina's Dad

I'm having one of those days at work where I know I have a lot to do, but am not really sure what it is. Brilliant.

So once I finally read through the remaining items from the New Yorker that were lurking in my Google Reader and then had nothing to do to procrastinate, I decided to do some research on the ICPC. ICPC stands for Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children, and its purpose is to protect the safety of kids who are sent/brought from one state to another for foster care or adoption. There are elements of it that are supposed to ease some of the bureaucracy (like maximum time for the receiving state to do a home study and such) and guarantee that the sending state remains financially responsible for the kiddo.

Sabrina's dad lives in another state (though nearby, relatively speaking, as you must have figured out since she spends every weekend with him) so ICPC applies to him getting custody.

"But wait," I hear you saying. "He's dad. It's not foster care. It's not adoption. Why does ICPC apply?"

I have been curious about this too for the last six months, and especially since last week when Wilma, the no-longer-so-terrible social worker told me that things aren't going well on the ICPC front. Apparently dad's county is concerned about dad's financial situation and doesn't want to have to pay for Sabrina. More on that detail later, but this is why today I decided I needed to do some research into the law.

Article III of the ICPC itself states (my emphasis):

(a) No sending agency shall send, bring, or cause to be sent or brought into any
other party state any child for placement in foster care or as a preliminary to
a possible adoption
unless the sending agency shall comply with each and every
requirement set forth in this article and with the applicable laws of the
receiving state governing the placement of children therein.

So yeah, it doesn't look like it should apply. And if it doesn't apply, then Sabrina should be with her dad and her dad's county can complain all they want about being on the hook financially if things go south with dad's financial situation because they don't have the ICPC protection of my state retaining jurisdiction.

But there are regulations. And they say, in Regulation 3 (again, my emphasis):

1. "Placement" as defined in Article II (d) includes the arrangement for the
care of a child in the home of his parent
, other relative, or non-agency
guardian in a receiving state when the sending agency is any entity other than a
parent, relative, guardian or non-agency guardian making the arrangement for
care as a plan exempt under Article VIII (a) of the Compact.

So there you have it, the ICPC applies.

But it doesn't have to (Regulation 3, 6(b)):

(b) The Compact does not apply whenever a court transfers the child to a
non-custodial parent with respect to whom the court does not have evidence
before it that such parent is unfit, does not seek such evidence, and does not
retain jurisdiction over the child after the court transfers the child.
The judge in the case opted out of such a transfer though, so the ICPC applies.

And here's the key thing (Article V of the Compact itself, emphasis mine):

(a) The sending agency shall retain jurisdiction over the child sufficient to
determine all matters in relation to the custody, supervision, care, and
disposition of the child which it would have had if the child had remained in
the sending agency’s state, until the child is adopted, reaches majority,
becomes self-supporting or is discharged with the concurrence of the appropriate
authority in the receiving state. Such jurisdiction shall also include the power
to effect or cause the return of the child or its transfer to another location
and custody pursuant to law. The sending agency shall continue to have financial responsibility for support and maintenance of the child during the period of the placement. Nothing contained herein shall defeat a claim of jurisdiction by a receiving state sufficient to deal with an act of delinquency or crime committed therein.
So dad's county? Doesn't get to use dad's finances as a cover for not approving him as a placement.

And thus ends today's treatise on why Sabrina should be with her dad, and not with me.


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