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UPDATED: Decision Issued in Maryland ICPC Case

Thursday, August 20, 2020   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Ranni Gonzalez
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In re R.S. presented the Maryland Court of Appeals with the question: does the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children apply to non-custodial, out-of-state parents? In an amicus brief filed before the Court of Appeals of Maryland in February 2020, the National Association of Counsel for Children (NACC) argued that doing so violates the plain language of the ICPC, the Constitutional rights of the family, and the best interest of the child.

 

R.S. was removed from her mother’s care in the state of Maryland.  Her father, T.S., resided in Delaware.  Maryland required application of the ICPC before placing R.S. with her father; he was eventually denied due to memory loss concerns, which the social worker surmised could interfere with his ability to timely transport R.S. to appointments. At no time during the pendency of the case did any party allege T.S. was unfit to parent.  The court issued a final order granting joint custody of R.S. to her paternal grandparents and T.S.; R.S. and T.S. both appealed.

 

The ICPC was created to facilitate certain interstate placements and was deliberately limited in scope, specifically applying to foster care, adoptions, and placement of youth adjudicated delinquent. It was first codified in Maryland in 1975 and later expanded to include non-custodial parents. Current trends demonstrate that where a state’s expanded scope has undergone judicial review, many courts have found that the ICPC is inapplicable to parents. NACC’s brief included an appendix with a detailed national survey of state case law on ICPC.

 

Application of the ICPC to parents is presumptively unconstitutional under both the Due Process and Equal Protection clauses of the Constitution.  It unfairly impedes a parent’s opportunity for judicial review of both fitness and of the best interest of the child. Additionally, there is no way to appeal the denial of another state’s ICPC determination. Furthermore, although mandates exist requiring prompt action for adoptive parents when a home study is approved, there are no such mandates for out-of-state parents, raising Equal Protection concerns.

 

Application of the ICPC to non-offending, out-of-state parents harms children. Research has demonstrated the traumatic effects of family separations on children. Home studies delay placement, leaving a young person to languish in stranger foster care for weeks or months at a time.  In addition, states have other means to assess parental fitness; the same investigative tools available for resident parents, like criminal records searches, are also available for nonresident parents.

 

For these reasons, NACC asked the state of Maryland to discontinue the practice of applying the ICPC to parents. Read the full brief here.

 

*UPDATED*

 

Maryland's highest court issued its decision finding ICPC does not apply to parents!

 

Read the Decision here!

 



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