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June 01, 2014

ICPC Stories

The views expressed herein have not been approved by the House of Delegates or the Board of Governors of the American Bar Association, and accordingly, should not be construed as representing the policy of the American Bar Association.

Frustrated by Delays

A juvenile court judge received the case of two middle school-aged girls who entered foster care because their mother abused them. Soon after the judge received the case, he learned the children’s father, a nonoffending parent, lived in another state. The judge immediately ordered an ICPC home study to be completed with the hopes of placing the children with their father in the upcoming school year.

Eight months after the court’s order, nothing had occurred. The judge allowed the children to visit their father over the summer but felt constrained to force them to return to their group home because the home study had not yet been completed. The judge’s requests for information from the child welfare agency in the other state went unanswered.

The judge then contacted a fellow judge in the other state who could not provide any help. Nearly 15 months after the initial order, the judge contacted the governor’s office in the other state requesting that they intervene to expedite the process. After the governor’s office became involved, the judge finally received a response from the other state. Yet the agency still continued to delay the process. Nearly two years after the judge’s initial request for a home study, the home study remained outstanding and the children languished in their group home. Ultimately, the judge disregarded the ICPC, placed the children with their father and closed the child welfare case.

Unable to See Their Mother

Two siblings, ages 14 and 12, entered foster care because their mother had a substance abuse problem. Their mother worked with the child welfare agency to complete her service plan and the court was prepared to send the children back home.

But their mother now lived in a different state and the child welfare agency insisted that an ICPC home study was required before they could live with her. While the other state was completing the home study, the children were not allowed to visit their mother. Child welfare agencies in both states believed that such visits would violate the ICPC.

Five months later, the process had still not been completed. The children remained stuck in foster care. Tragically, their mother was killed in a car accident. The delay created by the ICPC robbed the children of their chance to see their mother before she was killed.