• January-February 2016
  • Vol. 16, No. 10

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Shortening Permanency Timelines in Interstate Placements of Children

By Marci Roth, Project Director, National Electronic Interstate Compact Enterprise, American Public Human Services Association

For many years, placing children in foster care and adoptive placements across State borders has been a paper-intensive and time-consuming process. Placements can take months and even years as States exchange the necessary paperwork, often in triplicate and typically through the mail. However, a new nationwide project is working to fix these problems using the latest cloud-based technology and data standards.

The Children's Bureau is supporting a new national project by the American Public Human Services Association (APHSA) and its affiliate, the Association of Administrators of the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (AAICPC), to scale up a pilot that connects State agencies in real time. An online tool—the National Electronic Interstate Compact Enterprise (NEICE)—allows State office systems to talk to each other electronically and process Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC) cases more quickly.

NEICE supports the administration of the ICPC by exchanging data and documents via a highly secure, cloud-based system across State jurisdictions to facilitate the safe placement of children into foster care quicker and more efficiently than ever before. It began as a pilot project managed by APHSA and AAICPC, in partnership with the Administration for Children and Families, Administration on Children, Youth and Families, Children's Bureau, through a cooperative agreement. In August 2014, the NEICE web-based case management system was launched in Florida, Indiana, Nevada, South Carolina, Wisconsin, and the District of Columbia. NEICE added Nebraska in November 2015, and Illinois, Georgia, and Virginia are on track to join in early 2016.

An evaluation (PDF - 4 MB) conducted by WRMA, Inc., in 2015 found that during the pilot, use of NEICE reduced waiting times for children in participating States between 30 and 38 percent (depending on the case type). It is anticipated that implementation of NEICE nationally will result in significantly shorter case processing times, meaning children will be placed safely and securely across State borders more quickly. In addition, participating States will accrue cost savings through reductions in copying, mailing, and staff time.

NEICE uses national data standards, the National Information Exchange Model (NIEM), to translate data and documents for exchange across State lines into a standardized format. An Information Exchange Package Document (IEPD) for NEICE has been created for the use of information technology professionals in the States. States pay an annual service fee of $25,000 to use the NEICE system, which will soon have the capability of connecting a State's child welfare information system directly to other State systems via NEICE.

NEICE is accepting 12 new States into the system this year (until May 2016) and still has some spots available. The project plans to have all 52 jurisdictions (the 50 States, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Virgin Islands) on board by May 2018. As of early December 2015, seven participating States had entered over 10,200 children into NEICE, and placement decisions had been recorded for 71 percent of requested home studies.

For more information and to learn how your State can sign up for NEICE, please see http://www.aphsa.org/content/AAICPC/en/actions/NEICE.html

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