The Department Of Children and Families (department) appealed a post dependency order finding that the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC) does not apply to the placement of children with out of state parents. The First District Court of Appeals (First DCA) agreed and reversed that portion of the order.
The children were placed in the physical custody of their maternal grandmother due to Father’s drug use and neglect. During the trial court case, Father moved to Maryland and addressed the goals of his case plan. In a status hearing, the trial court found that Father had made progress on his case plan and would likely be reunified with the children by the end of the school year. Grandmother expressed unwillingness to care for the children in the future if the children were reunified with Father and removed again.
The trial court found no safety concerns with father and relied on Department of Children and Families v. L.G., 801 So. 2d 1047 (Fla. 1st DCA 2001), which the trial court asserted held that ICPC does not apply when children are to be placed with out of state parents. The trial court ordered immediate reunification with Father, directing the department to supervise Father for six months and for Father to submit to random urinalysis.
The First DCA found that the trial court misinterpreted L.G. L.G. held that ICPC does not apply when the custodial parent that has lawful custody of the child and full authority to plan for the child chooses to relocate to another state. In the instant case, Father did not have lawful custody of his children or full authority to plan for the children. His custody and authority to plan was limited by the court having legal custody and responsibility to make decisions for the children. Therefore, ICPC did apply.