If you are a family who lives in Iowa but a relative in another state needs care, you will be considered a placement option for your relative through what is called the Interstate Compact for the Placement of Children (ICPC).

The ICPC is a contract among member states and U.S. territories authorizing them to work together to ensure that children who are placed across state lines for foster care or adoption receive adequate protection and support services.

If your relative is in another state, the child’s state must recognize you as a relative and request Iowa complete an ICPC home study. You can begin the Iowa licensing and approval process without a request from the child’s state, but unless the child’s state knows who you are and knows you are going through the process with the hopes of caring for your relative, you may not be a placement option for the child.

If an ICPC home study has not been requested for your family, contact the child’s state to see if you would be considered a placement option for your relative.

ICPC Relative Home Study

Sometimes, based on the child’s permanency plan, the child’s state may request an ICPC relative home study be completed, which means you do not need to become a licensed foster parent or attend training. If you only have an ICPC relative study, you are not eligible to receive foster care maintenance payments from the child’s state and you are not approved to adopt the child if that becomes an option. If your family will care for a relative, IFAPA will be an excellent supportive resource to your family.

ICPC Foster/Adoption Home Study

States can also request you become a licensed foster parent or approved adoptive home, based on the child’s permanency plan, and will request an ICPC foster or ICPC adoption home study (or they may request both) for your family. Reunification for children is always the goal, but if the parent’s rights may be or have been terminated, getting a foster care license and adoption approval is recommended. In Iowa, only a DHS approved adoptive family can legally adopt a child in the foster care system, even if you are a relative.

An adoption approval is different from a foster care license. You can get an adoption approval without a foster care license, or the other way around. Families must attend the same training, complete a home study, and be issued a notice of decision by DHS before they are legally “approved” to adopt. Having an adoption approval for the relatives in your care means you can adopt if that becomes an option. You will not receive monthly foster care maintenance payments if you only have an adoption approval, but you will have support from Four Oaks Foster and Adoptive Family Connections or LSI.