What is ICPC and How Does it Work?

girl-g52082d08c_1920If you are pursuing adoption, you might already have heard about ICPC. If not, this will become a part of your adoption journey if you find yourself adopting a child who currently resides in a different state.

What Is ICPC?

The ICPC is the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children. This is a set of rules honored by all 50 states as well as the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands. It allows authorities from multiple jurisdictions to work together when necessary to ensure a safe adoption placement.

The ICPC was established after pioneering research in the 1950s helped uncover problems that can occur when children are placed out of state for foster care or adoption. Researchers found there was no way for a “sending state” to ensure that a “receiving state” provided adequate care for a child in need.

As the name suggests, the ICPC is only relevant in cases where an adoption crosses state lines. This applies to a minority of cases, but it is important to know about in case it affects you and your family.

How Does ICPC Work?

All states and territories that adhere to ICPC have their own regulatory body that oversees all related responsibilities. The structure may be different from state to state, which affects how long it takes for families to have out-of-state placement requests reviewed.

For example, there is a single centralized governmental body for out-of-state placement requests in Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia. In some other states, responsibility may be deferred to the county or municipal level. Regardless, each state has a process to review 100% of relevant requests.

The overall goals of the ICPC include:

  • Ensuring that children are placed in a suitable environment
  • Ensuring “sending states” can assess a requested placement
  • Ensuring these states receive adequate information to do so
  • Guaranteeing appropriate legal protections for the child

This means every interstate adoption or foster care arrangement will be a little bit different depending on the states involved and what their laws require. It’s not possible to know in advance how every one of the combinations will work, but you’ll get help through your adoption attorney.

How Does ICPC Impact Adoptive Parents?

Even though the details vary, the overall effect of ICPC is easy to explain.

When you adopt a child from a different U.S. state or territory, you agree to be bound by the rules of both. There are three major impacts this frequently has, and an adoption attorney helps with them all:

  1. The Adoption Process May Be Longer

Since each state has different processes and procedures, the overall adoption process can take longer. With an added week here and there, the difference is often measured in months. However, since the states have a framework for cooperating, cases cannot simply be forgotten or slip through the cracks.

  1. There May Be Additional Court Hearings

With twice the oversight, it is possible there may be additional court hearings. It wasn’t that long ago when twice as many courthouse visits was not uncommon while courts now will try to consolidate the hearings so you only have to attend one hear during the entire process.

  1. The Home Visit May Be Different

The home visit is where adoptive parents tend to see the biggest impact from ICPC. Some sending states will accept a report from a social worker from the receiving state, while others may arrange for further visits or additional oversight. The adoption agency may take a bigger role than usual in these cases.

Contact Family Formation Law Offices today for compassionate advice from an interstate adoption expert.


The information shared on this account is for informational and marketing purposes ONLY. This post does not contain legal advice. This account does not contain legal advice. Communicating with or viewing this account and posts does not create an attorney-client relationship.

“I believe in working with each of my clients—in support of their family dynamic—to make the dreams of parenthood a reality. Whether you are single or married; or gay; a step-parent, a surrogate or intended parent or a child of adoption, it is my mission to serve as your advocate. With a dedication to the ethical and sensitive nature of each situation, I will help you understand the laws within Maryland or Washington, DC for adoption or surrogacy, and pledge to be your partner throughout the journey.” - Jennifer Fairfax

AAAAlogofinal2018 Lawyer Rating   sl-badge-s-g-2021