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News & Views - April, 1995 Issue #33 


The Evolution of a Bureaucracy
Another Restriction on Parents' Rights 

This Interstate Compact was adopted by all 50 states in the early sixties, using virtually the same language in all states. The main purpose was to provide a means for coordination between probation officers in different states when a child on probation was placed in another state, and to protect states from the expense of having problem children dumped on them. The best known part of this legislation has commonly been referred to as the criminal side of the Interstate Compact, and is generally supported by emotional growth schools and programs. 

By the mid- seventies, model law legislation was adopted by all 50 states to expand the Compact to cover virtually all children who were placed in another state, even if the program was found and paid for by the parents. This has commonly been referred to as the civil side of this Interstate Compact. It provides that placement cannot take place in another state until both states have approved the placement. The only exceptions allowed by the law to requiring both states prior approval is placement by and with family members, with institutions caring for the mentally ill, mentally defective or epileptic or any institution primarily educational in character, and any hospital or other medical facility. 

For 20 years, this later provision has been on the books and not been enforced. That is changing. In the last few months, at least two states have started enforcing this provision. 

* In the State of Washington, Dave Pitkin, of Skyland Ranch outside Seattle, has been told his license to operate will be revoked if he enrolls any child from outside the State of Washington before it is approved by Washington's Interstate Compact manager. 

Already one troubled child from California and his parents lost an opportunity for a new chance at life while waiting for the bureaucratic delays of obtaining the Compact Manager's approval. The child was starting to get in trouble with the law when the desperate mother found Skyland Ranch. She saw Skyland Ranch as an opportunity to get her child away from his negative friends and a place where he could get some help to straighten up his life. Since he was on the verge of getting into serious trouble with the law, speed was of the essence. Skyland Ranch saw him as a young man they might be able to help. An agreement was made, but the child couldn't be physically placed in the more positive and less dangerous environment until the approval was given by the Washington Compact Manager. Eleven days later, the approval came through, but the enrollment never happened. While waiting for the bureaucracy to act, the mother's worst nightmare came true. The child went out with some friends one night and got arrested. As a result, the rest of his life will probably start with an experience within the California juvenile justice system, at taxpayer expense, rather than on a outdoor based and structured ranch in Washington at the parent's expense. 

* ANASAZI, a wilderness program in Arizona informs me that the State of Arizona has told them, and all other treatment programs in Arizona, that their license will be revoked if they enroll any child without prior approval from the originating state's Compact Manager. They estimate the paperwork delays at about one week. 

It seems very likely several other states will start enforcing the civil side of this Interstate Compact to some degree or another very soon. Since this legislation very clearly gives the state the power to disapprove a parent's placement decision if another state is involved, it can be considered as another restriction on parent's rights. Woodbury Reports will attempt to track the evolution of this issue, and would appreciate hearing from anyone who is aware of the implementation of this legislation in any state. 

Copyright 1995, Woodbury Reports, Inc. (This article may be reproduced without prior approval if the copyright notice and proper publication and author attribution accompanies the copy.)

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