Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock () or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

July/August 2011Vol. 12, No. 6The New Interstate Compact for the Placement of Children

The Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC), written in 1960, has long set the standard for ensuring the safe and stable placement of children across State lines. Enacted by all 50 States, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, the ICPC determines who is legally and financially responsible for a child placed in another State and establishes supervisory requirements for foster care and adoption services to the child and family. Since 1960, major changes in child welfare practice, technology, and society have made the original version increasingly difficult to implement. In March 2004, the American Public Human Services Association (APHSA) began an effort to rewrite the ICPC to more closely match today's foster care and adoption practices. Throughout the rewriting process, APHSA relied heavily on the input of key stakeholders such as State administrators, Federal partners, and related national child welfare organizations.

The new ICPC, renamed the Interstate Compact for the Placement of Children, makes numerous improvements to more efficiently place children across State lines and increase accountability in the ICPC process. One major improvement aims to reduce confusion concerning private custody matters by clearly stating the new ICPC applies only to children in foster care or children being placed for adoption by a public agency. Other key areas of improvement include:

  • A secure system for collecting and sharing case information
  • Required timelines for the approval of placements
  • An option for States to purchase home studies from licensed private agencies
  • Procedures for administrative review of decision-making in cases when requested
  • The establishment of an Interstate Commission to enforce and oversee the administration of the ICPC

The language in the new ICPC requires that 35 States must adopt it before it can go into effect. To date, 12 States have adopted it, and legislation has been introduced in another 2 States. Once the new ICPC becomes effective, the Interstate Commission will begin a collaborative process to develop rules and administrative procedures for all member States to follow. Although some States are concerned about the potential financial burden of the new ICPC or doubt its ability to significantly improve interstate processes, compact administrators highlight safeguards to address spending and to ensure State authority and involvement in the rulemaking process. APHSA emphasizes that the most important improvement in the new ICPC is the ability to hold States accountable through stronger rule enforcement, which will ultimately improve outcomes for children placed with families across State lines.

To better educate the States about the need to make the new ICPC effective nationwide, APHSA offers an extensive website that includes such helpful materials as:

  • A history of the ICPC and description of the rewriting process
  • A side-by-side comparison of the old and new ICPC and highlights of the revisions
  • Frequently asked questions about the new ICPC and its effect in specific practice areas

Visit the APHSA website for more information:

In addition, the following APHSA website compiles State ICPC contacts and websites and summarizes State ICPC laws, practices, and procedures:

Related Item

The American Bar Association (ABA) Center on Children and the Law published frequently asked questions for legal professionals about the impact of the new ICPC on status offense cases for youth involved in the juvenile justice system. Download The Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children and Status Offense Advocacy on the ABA website: (164 KB)