Office of Legal Services









The Office of Legal Counsel provides guidance to the Department of Human Services’ executive and management staff on a wide range of issues, with special emphasis on the areas of child welfare, juvenile delinquency, disabled adults and elderly protection. The Office of Legal Counsel supports the development and implementation of the Department’s programs by furnishing legal advice to the Commissioner on the interpretation of federal and territorial laws and regulations that affect the Department. In conjunction with the office of the Attorney General, the Office of Legal Counsel determines the action to be taken to originate and/or respond to legal proceedings involving the Department. It is also the function of the Office of Legal Counsel to draft, review and analyze all proposed legislation, national and local, that affects the Department and its programs. The Office of Legal Counsel is the Department’s liaison to the Department of Justice and other agencies with respect to legal matters involving the Department of Human Services. The Office of Fraud, Administration and Appeals are supervised by the Office of Legal Counsel, and management of the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC) is also under the supervision of the Office of Legal Counsel.

Fraud, Administration and Appeals

When program offices notify the applicant, recipient, or provider that benefits or payments have been denied or will be reduced, suspended, or terminated, he or she has the right to request a fair hearing to dispute the adverse action. Appeals must be filed in writing. An oral appeal can be filed to dispute and adverse action regarding food stamp benefits.

A Hearing Officer, employed by the Department of Human Services, presides over all fair hearings for households and individuals aggrieved by any action of the Department. The programs for which hearings are routinely conducted includes, but are not limited to Food Stamp, Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF), Energy Assistance, Income Maintenance (Old Age Assistance, Aid to the Disabled & Aid to Blind), Emergency Welfare Services, Burial Assistance, disputes involving residents at the Youth Rehabilitation Center (YRC), and Pharmaceutical Assistance to the Aged.

A party may seek reconsideration by the Commissioner of Human Services of the final decision of the Office of Fraud, Administration and Appeals.

Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC)

Children placed in and out of the Territory need to be assured of the same protections and services that would be provided if they remained in their home states. They must also be assured of a return to their original jurisdictions should placements prove not to be in their best interests or should the need for out-of-state services cease. The variety of circumstances which makes interstate placement of children necessary and the types of protections needed offer compelling reasons for a mechanism which regulates those placements of children. Hence, the enactment of the uniform ICPC that is codified locally at 34 V.I.C. 121 to 127. Under the terms of the law, the Department of Human Services agrees to follow certain procedures when it makes or accepts interstate placements of children. The ICPC Compact Administrator oversees or performs the day-to-day tasks associated with the administration of the compact. In every state and territory that is a party to the Compact, the Compact office and personnel are located in an office that is part of the department of public welfare or the state’s equivalent agency.

The Compact Administrator is designated to serve as the central clearing point for all referrals for interstate placements, including conducting the necessary investigation of the proposed placement and to determine whether or not the placement is contrary to the child’s interests. After the placement is approved and the child is moved into the state or territory, the Compact Administrator is responsible for overseeing the placement as long as it continues.

ICPC STATUTE

121. Adoption of Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children

The Virgin Islands hereby enacts into law and enters into the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children with all other jurisdictions which have enacted or shall hereafter enact the Compact in the form substantially as follows:

Article I. Purpose and Policy

It is the purpose and policy of the party states to cooperate with each other in the interstate placement of children to the end that:

      (a) Each child requiring placement shall receive the maximum opportunity to be placed in a suitable environment and with persons or institutions having appropriate qualifications and facilities to provide a necessary and desirable degree and type of care.

      (b) The appropriate authorities in a state where a child is to be placed may have full opportunity to ascertain the circumstances of the proposed placement, thereby promoting full compliance with applicable requirements for the protection of the child.

      (c) The proper authorities of the state from which the placement is made may obtain the most complete information on the basis of which to evaluate a projected placement before it is made.

      (d) Appropriate jurisdictional arrangements for the care of children will be promoted.
Article II. Definitions

As used in this Compact:

      (a) "Child" means a person who, by reason of minority, is legally subject to parental, guardianship or similar control.

      (b) "Sending agency" means a party state, officer or employee thereof; a subdivision of a party state, or officer or employee thereof; a court of a party state; a person, corporation, association, charitable agency or other entity which sends, brings, or causes to be sent or brought any child to another party state.

      (c) "Receiving state" means the state to which a child is sent, brought, or caused to be sent or brought, whether by public authorities or private persons or agencies, and whether for placement with state or local public authorities or for placement with private agencies or persons.

      (d) "Placement" means the arrangement for the care of a child in a family or boarding home or in a child-care agency or institution, but does not include any institution caring for the mentally ill, mentally defective or epileptic or any institution primarily educational in character, or any hospital or other medical facility.

      (e) "State" means any state or territory or possession of the United States, the District of Columbia and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.
Article III. Conditions for Placement
      (a) No sending agency shall send, bring, or cause to be sent or brought into any other party state any child for placement in foster care or as a preliminary to a possible adoption unless the sending agency shall comply with every requirement set forth in this article and with the applicable laws of the receiving state governing the placement of children therein.

      (b) Prior to sending, bringing or causing any child to be sent or brought into a receiving state for placement in foster care or as a preliminary to a possible adoption, the sending agency shall furnish the appropriate public authorities in the receiving state written notice of the intention to send, bring, or place the child in the receiving state. The notice shall contain:
          (1) The name, date and place of birth of the child.
          (2) The identity and address or addresses of the parents or legal guardian.

          (3) The name and address of the person, agency or institution to or with which the sending agency proposes to send, bring, or place the child.

          (4) A full statement of the reasons for such proposed action and evidence of the authority pursuant to which the placement is proposed to be made.
      (c) Any public officer or agency in a receiving state which is in receipt of a notice pursuant to paragraph (b) of this article may request of the sending agency, or any other appropriate officer or agency of or in the sending agency's state, and shall be entitled to receive therefrom, such supporting or additional information as it may deem necessary under the circumstances to carry out the purpose and policy of this Compact.

      (d) The child shall not be sent, brought, or caused to be sent or brought into the receiving state until the appropriate public authorities in the receiving state shall notify the sending agency, in writing, to the effect that the proposed placement does not appear to be contrary to the interests of the child.
Article IV. Penalty for Illegal Placement

The sending, bringing, or causing to be sent or brought into any receiving state of a child in violation of the terms of this Compact shall constitute a violation of the laws respecting the placement of children of both the state in which the sending agency is located or from which it sends or brings the child and of the receiving state. Such violation may be punished or subjected to a penalty in either jurisdiction in accordance with its laws. In addition to the liability for any such punishment or penalty, any such violation shall constitute full and sufficient grounds for the suspension or revocation of any license, permit, or other legal authorization held by the sending agency which empowers or allows it to place or care for children.

Article V. Retention of Jurisdiction

      (a) The sending agency shall retain jurisdiction over the child sufficient to determine all matters in relation to the custody, supervision, care, treatment and disposition of the child which it would have had if the child had remained in the sending agency's state, until the child is adopted, reaches majority, becomes self-supporting or is discharged with the concurrence of the appropriate authority in the receiving state. Such jurisdiction shall also include the power to effect or cause the return of the child or its transfer to another location and custody pursuant to law. The sending agency shall continue to have financial responsibility for support and maintenance of the child during the period of the placement. Nothing contained herein shall defeat a claim of jurisdiction by a receiving state sufficient to deal with an act of delinquency or crime committed therein

      (b) When the sending agency is a public agency, it may enter into an agreement with an authorized public or private agency in the receiving state providing for the performance of one or more services in respect of such case by the latter as agent for the sending agency.
      (c) Nothing in this Compact shall be construed to prevent a private charitable agency authorized to place children in the receiving state from performing services or acting as agent in that state for a private charitable agency of the sending state; nor to prevent the agency in the receiving state from discharging financial responsibility for the support and maintenance of a child who has been placed on behalf of the sending agency without relieving the responsibility set forth in paragraph (a) hereof.
Article VI. Institutional Care of Delinquent Children

A child adjudicated delinquent may be placed in an institution in another party jurisdiction pursuant to this Compact, but no such placement shall be made unless the child is given a court hearing on notice to the parent or guardian with opportunity to be heard, prior to his being sent to such other party jurisdiction for institutional care, and the court finds that:

      1. Equivalent facilities for the child are not available in the sending agency's jurisdiction; and

      2. Institutional care in the other jurisdiction is in the best interest of the child and will not produce undue hardship
Article VII. Compact Administrator

The executive head of each jurisdiction party to this Compact shall designate an officer who shall be general coordinator of activities under this Compact in his jurisdiction and who, acting jointly with like officers of other party jurisdictions, shall have power to promulgate rules and regulations to carry out more effectively the terms and provisions of this Compact.

Article VIII. Limitations

This Compact shall not apply to:

      (a) the sending or bringing of a child into a receiving state by his parent, step-parent, grandparent, adult brother or sister, adult uncle or aunt, or his guardian, and leaving the child with any such relative or non-agency guardian in the receiving state; or


      (b) any placement, sending or bringing of a child into a receiving state pursuant to any other interstate compact to which both the state from which the child is sent or brought and the receiving state are party, or to any other agreement between said states which has the force of law.
Article IX. Enactment and Withdrawal

This Compact shall be open to joinder by any state, territory or possession of the United States, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and, with the consent of Congress, the Government of Canada or any province thereof. It shall become effective with respect to any such jurisdiction when such jurisdiction has enacted the same into law. Withdrawal from this Compact shall be by the enactment of a statute repealing the same, but shall not take effect until two years after the effective date of such statute and until written notice of the withdrawal has been given by the withdrawing state to the Governor of each other party jurisdiction. Withdrawal of a party state shall not affect the rights, duties and obligations under this Compact of any sending agency therein with respect to a placement made prior to the effective date of withdrawal.

Article X. Construction and Severability

The provisions of this Compact shall be liberally construed to effectuate the purposes thereof. The provisions of this Compact shall be severable and if any phrase, clause, sentence or provision of this Compact is declared to be contrary to the constitution of any party state or of the United States or the applicability thereof to any government, agency, person or circumstance is held invalid, the validity of the remainder of this Compact and the applicability thereof to any government, agency, person or circumstance shall not be affected thereby. If this Compact shall be held contrary to the constitution of any state party thereto, the Compact shall remain in full force and effect as to the remaining states and in full force and effect as to the state affected as to all severable matters.

122. Financial responsibility
Financial responsibility for any child placed pursuant to the provisions of the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children shall be determined in accordance with the provisions of Article V thereof in the first instance. However, in the event of partial or complete default of performance thereunder, the provisions of any other laws fixing responsibility for the support of children also may be invoked.

123. Appropriate public authorities
The "appropriate public authorities" as used in Article III of the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children shall, with reference to the Virgin Islands, mean the Department of Human Services with reference to placement in foster care or as a preliminary to a possible adoption and the Youth Services Administration with reference to institutional care of delinquent children. The Department of Human Services shall receive and act in response to notices required by said Article III with reference to placement in foster care or as a preliminary to a possible adoption. The Department of Human Services shall receive and act in response to the provisions of Article VI with reference to institutional care of delinquent children.

124. Appropriate authority in receiving state
As used in paragraph (a) of Article V of the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children, the phrase "appropriate authority in receiving state" shall mean the Department of Human Services with reference to placement in foster care or as a placement to a possible adoption and the Department of Human Services with reference to institutional care of delinquent children.

125. Agreements
The officers and agencies of the Virgin Islands having authority to place children are hereby empowered to enter into agreements with appropriate officers or agencies of or in other party states pursuant to paragraph (b) of Article V of the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children. Any such agreement which contains a financial commitment or imposes a financial obligation on the Government of the Virgin Islands shall not be binding unless it has the approval in writing of the Governor, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, the Attorney General and the Commissioner of Property and Procurement.

126. Court jurisdiction
Any court having jurisdiction to place delinquent children may place such a child in an institution in another state pursuant to Article VI of the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children and shall retain jurisdiction as provided in Article V thereof.

127. Executive head defined
As used in this Article VII of the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children, the term "executive head" means the Governor. The Governor is hereby authorized to appoint a Compact Administrator, with the advice and consent of the Legislature, in accordance with the terms of Article VII and who shall have responsibility for promulgating, in cooperation with the Department of Human Services, rules and regulations for implementing the provisions of the Compact.


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