May 10, 2018

The National Electronic Interstate Compact Enterprise (NEICE) is a software application that enables the electronic exchange of information that is required for interstate placements of children in foster care or adoptive settings.

The Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC) establishes the rules and regulations governing such placements. To promote timely placements, the ICPC sets target timeframes for various stages of the placement process. The traditional exchange of information for interstate placements, through postal mail, has been time-consuming and expensive. To address this problem and shorten the time needed to complete some ICPC steps, the American Public Human Services Association (APHSA) collaborated with the Association of Administrators of the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (AAICPC) to develop the NEICE. For more background about the NEICE, see APHSA’s website.

The Children’s Bureau, an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, funded APHSA and AAICPC to develop, implement, and manage the NEICE. APHSA/AAICPC contracted with the Tetrus Corporation, which developed the NEICE software and provides technical assistance and training to NEICE users. The NEICE was piloted in six states in 2014; by early March 2018, 19 states were actively using it.

In the initial evaluation of the NEICE pilot in 2015, Walter R. McDonald & Associates, Inc. (WRMA) found the following:

• Reduced copying and mailing costs related to the ICPC process
• Reduced staff time needed to process ICPC cases
• Decreased ICPC case timelines
• High-quality management of the pilot

In early 2016, APHSA/AAICPC contracted with Child Trends to conduct a multi-year evaluation of the expansion of the NEICE. This evaluation was intended to (1) provide ongoing information to APHSA, AAICPC, and Tetrus to help them improve NEICE implementation, (2) assess the costs associated with the NEICE, (3) assess the time elapsed between various ICPC steps and assess other potential benefits of the system, (4) describe interoperability of the NEICE with other data systems, and (5) examine the sustainability of the system.

Key findings from the evaluation include the following:

• APHSA and AAICPC successfully managed and implemented the NEICE and attended to challenges as they arose. Nineteen states have begun using the NEICE, and APHSA and AAICPC anticipate that up to 38 states will be using the NEICE by the end of 2018.

• On average, states spend approximately $32,000 to join the NEICE, and approximately $3,500 per year to maintain the NEICE (excluding the annual $25,000 licensing fee). Staff time constitutes the primary ongoing cost.

• The NEICE contributes to shorter ICPC case processing times and lower copying and mailing expenses, facilitates communication and tracking of cases within and between states, improves data integrity and accuracy, and improves the ability of states to comply with ICPC requirements.

• Although the NEICE has the capacity to be interoperable with other state data systems through its compliance with national data exchange and child welfare system standards, not all states chose to build an interface between the NEICE and their child welfare or ICPC systems.

• APHSA believes that enough states will join the NEICE in 2018 to ensure financial sustainability, although some states are concerned about their ability to continue paying the annual licensing fee. The Family First Prevention Services Act of 2018 will contribute to the sustainability of the NEICE by mandating the use of an electronic data system for processing ICPC cases by 2027. The future governance structure of the NEICE remains to be defined and implemented.

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