Interjurisdictional placements involve placing a child for foster care or adoption with a family who lives in a different jurisdiction from the one responsible for the child. For example, in a county-based child welfare system, you may encounter interjurisdictional issues between county departments and courts. More often, however, the term interjurisdictional is applied to placements involving movement of a child across state, territory, or national boundaries.
To support successful interjurisdictional placements, your agency should:
- Establish that permanency has priority over geography;
- Educate various stakeholders (staff, judges, private agencies) about interjurisdictional laws, policies, and procedures;
- Evaluate internal policies and procedures related to interjurisdictional practice;
- Operate with a can-do attitude and be a barrier buster;
- Develop a tracking system to monitor the progress of the case through the interstate placement process;
- Include interjurisdictional options in child and family preparation;
- Use online resources and tools that support interjurisdictional practice (such as registering your agency with AdoptUSKids for free photolisting services);
- Develop partnerships to better facilitate interjurisdictional placements (such as border agreements, purchase-of-service contracts, etc.);
- Request consulting and technical assistance to bolster system-wide policies and practices that support interjurisdictional work.
Develop border agreements with neighboring states or counties establishing clear procedures for allowing interjurisdictional practices and placements. For example, a border agreement might allow agency workers to cross specific county or regional borders to conduct home studies or placement supervision. States that share borders might negotiate a cooperative border agreement that insures timely response to home study requests by the receiving State. For an example of an existing border agreement, read this press release from the Oregon Department of Human Services (PDF – 134KB) about their agreement with the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services.
Engage and welcome military and global families as possible permanency options for children and youth in foster care. Military families stationed overseas, other American citizens residing abroad, and foreign nationals are expressing interest in adopting children and youth from the U.S. foster care system. Find out more about how to engage military families in your recruitment efforts with the resources below:
- Why Should I Go the Extra Step to Place a Child for Adoption With an American Military Family Living in Another Country? (PDF – 220 KB)
- Wherever My Family Is, That's Home! Adoption Services for Military Families (PDF – 1.9 MB)
Concurrent Planning with an Interjurisdictional Approach
A significant strategy in foster care and adoption work has been attempting to place children and youth as close to home as possible, keeping children and youth near the communities, schools, and friends who are most familiar. Embracing the value of interjurisdictional placements does not require rejecting the idea of trying to keep children and youth close to home; both practices are important strategies to consider in pursuing permanence for children and youth. Just as concurrent planning emphasizes and embraces the need to simultaneously work toward reunification and alternative permanency options for youth, agencies should concurrently seek adoptive families for youth both close to home and in other jurisdictions. Taking this concurrent approach helps waiting children and youth achieve permanence sooner, rather than having to wait for local permanency options to be ruled out first; a youth’s chances for a permanent family are maximized by a broad search for a family.
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