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Interstate Placements (Adopting a Child from Another State)

Updated: Nov 14, 2023

Interstate placements for foster care and adoption are fairly common. Today’s post is about the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children or ICPC,i.e., adopting a child from another state.


Background: The ICPC is a law adopted verbatim in all 50 states. The ICPC provides procedures for the orderly placement of children across state lines because each state has an interest in making sure that its children will be properly cared for if transferred to another state for foster care or adoption.



The ICPC stems from problems with interstate placements back in the 1950s. Some children were not receiving the care they needed and there was no formal mechanism for states to coordinate such care. In 1960, New York became the first state to adopt the ICPC. By 1990, all states had adopted the law.


Each state has an ICPC Administrator. When children are transferred under the ICPC, there is a “Sending State” and a “Receiving State.” Generally, the ICPC applies if an agency (such as DCFS) is involved in an interstate placement; and it also applies in private interstate adoption cases. On the other hand, parents can place their children with a relative in another state without going through the ICPC process.


Suppose DCFS wants to send a Utah child to live with foster parents in Kansas. The typical process works like this:

1. The Utah DCFS caseworker sends paperwork to the Utah ICPC Administrator.

2. The Utah ICPC Administrator sends the paperwork to the Kansas ICPC Administrator.

3. Who forwards it on to the Kansas Department for Families and Children or DFC.

4. The Kansas DFC has a home study done and reports back to the Utah DCFS through the two ICPC Administrators.

5. If Utah DCFS determines that the Kansas placement is not contrary to the child’s interest, then the two ICPC Administrators will coordinate which state will provide which services. (Most likely, the child will remain on Utah Medicaid and remain subject to the jurisdiction of Utah courts until he or she is adopted in Kansas or turns 18.)


In the “bad old days,” the ICPC was a pain the rear–it seemingly took forever for all this “coordination.” But today, many states including Utah use an electronic system for sending and receiving ICPC documents. So, ICPC is no longer a swear word!


We hope this information about interstate placements is helpful to you. At the Utah Adoption Law Center, we provide free consultation for all your adoption questions. We look forward to talking with you!






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