Senator Todd Young (R-IN) is reintroducing the Modernizing the Interstate Placement of Children in Foster Care Act. Referred to by some as the NEICE bill, standing for the National Electronic Interstate Compact Enterprise project, the legislation was included in last year’s Families First Act. It would provide some small amount of funding to states to improve interstate placements through the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC). The ICPC, housed at the American Public Human Services Association, has been in effect for more than a half century and is a voluntary agreement between the 50 states. Despite that compact, children being placed across state lines in adoptive, foster and kin families can sometimes get caught up in lengthy delays.
The legislation, which CWLA has endorsed, would assist all fifty states to transform their placement efforts into a web-based system that can overcome paperwork delays.
States differ in their process; these placements can frequently take months or even years to complete. Those challenges have caused many, especially in the adoption community, to call for reforms and federal oversight into a compact that has been state driven. Children are delayed from a successful adoption (or needed foster care and kinship placements) due to the ICPC delays and there have been past federal legislative efforts to incentivize the process.
NEICE was funded by HHS and started as a 17-month pilot to improve efficiency in the administration of the ICPC. It uses an electronic web-based system that has successfully cut down on the time it takes to make placement decisions. In the initial effort six states where part of the project: Florida, Indiana, Nevada, South Carolina, Wisconsin and the District of Columbia. The results showed a significant reduction in the time it took to place a child in a family across state lines.
In one pilot site, more than 100 children were placed within 3 to 4 weeks compared to a more typical placement timeline that might stretch between six to 12 months. That can be critical when a relative may live many states away. The process can also assist when special residential treatment is only available in another state.
The Young legislation makes some adjustments to his earlier House bill due to some states successfully implementing the new approach. Under the revised measure, HHS is directed to prioritize states that have not yet acted although states with existing systems could get funding to enhance their current systems. States that have implemented the new system since the original legislation include Illinois, Virginia, Rhode Island, California, Alaska, Nebraska, and Georgia. The legislation is funded with a $5 million set-aside under Title IV-B part 1.