ISS-USA March Newsletter
A message from our Director of External Partnerships and International Services
Dear Friends of ISS-USA,

March 15th marked World Social Work Day, which is part of the larger month-long celebration of Social Work Month. These events provide us with an opportunity to take a moment and applaud the amazing dedication and professionalism of the social work staff of the ISS federation. It is remarkable that for over 90 years, social workers in the ISS network have cooperated, consulted and commiserated with their partners in over 100 countries. It is not always easy to sort out the differences in a foreign system of child protection, or to be patient when unforeseen complications slow the progress of case. Sometimes, it's not even easy trying to work out the 24 different time zones in which we work. Yet, despite the cultural, political, linguistic and structural challenges, the case management staff of the ISS network do an extraordinary job of completing services for children and vulnerable adults who otherwise would not have access to the information and support they need to be safely reunited with their families. As the case outlined below illustrates, nothing about cross border case management is ever simple or straightforward. But with ingenuity, perseverance and commitment, we can lead the way for disseminating best practices in cross border social services even in the most unique of circumstances. 

Best wishes,
Felicity
Technical Assistance Grant Award

The Jessie Ball duPont Fund recently awarded ISS-USA with a $4,000 technical assistance grant as part of its organizational capacity building initiative. This grant will assist ISS-USA in many technological enhancements and advancements. This funding will enable ISS-USA to not only provide services to clients more efficiently, but also to communicate more securely and effectively with partners, colleagues, and clients across the globe.
ISS-USA to Launch Training in Guatemala 

As part of ISS-USA's mission to protect and defend vulnerable children across borders, ISS-USA is implementing a training in Guatemala on April 28-29th.  This training is part of a project to  provide coordinated cross border social services for children and families migrating in the Northern Triangle, Mexico, and the U.S. This training aims to develop a regional network of social service agencies committed to cross border support, increase collaboration and communication among these agencies, and ultimately protect the rights of unaccompanied children and their families entering and exiting these regions. For more information, please contact  Felicity Northcott , Director of External Partnerships and International Services.
Save the Date! ISS-USA Conference in October

ISS-USA will be hosting a conference on Friday, October 14th at the University of Maryland School of Social Work in Baltimore, MD. This conference, The Ties That Bind: Exploring the Causes and Consequences of Children Separated From Their Families Across International Borders, will focus on the legal and human rights of children separated from their biological families across international borders. From long-standing methods including international adoption and international parental abduction, to emerging issues like international surrogacy and the movement of unaccompanied minors, the question of the impact on children being denied access to their biological families will be examined within the context of an increasingly global world.   Stay tuned in the coming months for more details on topics and speakers. We hope to see you there! 
Happy World Social Work Day!


March 15th marked  World Social Work Day. The theme of this year's WSWD was Promoting the Dignity and Worth of Peoples. We'd like to thank all the social workers at ISS-USA, at our partner organizations, and around the globe for their tireless efforts to promote social justice and human rights.
Strategic Planning Process

ISS-USA Staff & Board Members
ISS-USA is in the process of developing a new strategic plan to guide us in fulfilling our mission to support, protect, and reunite children and families across borders. The Board of Directors and staff recently met to collaboratively discuss ideas for ISS-USA's vision and future.  As these strategic planning conversations continue, ISS-USA will outline specific goals, actions, and resources needed to continue to provide critical cross-border social services, technical assistance, and training.
Successful Virtual Home Study Reunites Child with Family

When Mabel and Karl retired to the Maldives after long careers as healthcare professionals in Utah, they faced a major hurdle. They were committed foster parents to seven-year-old Randy and had already begun the adoption process. As a ward of the state, however, Randy couldn't relocate with them, and instead was moved to a new foster home. Randy's foster care caseworker contacted ISS-USA for help. In order to proceed with the adoption, Mabel and Karl needed a home study in the Maldives, but that raised other problems. ISS-USA does not have any agency partners in that country, and traveling to the remote tropical islands would be prohibitively expensive.

Randy's ISS-USA caseworker proposed an innovative solution: Perform a "virtual" home study. The caseworker, the authorities in Utah, and Mabel and Karl spent many hours communicating via email and phone in order to gather all necessary information. The caseworker interviewed references on the phone and requested background checks and verification documents from both Utah and the Maldives. Then, the ISS-USA case worker conducted a six hour virtual home study via Skype. The home study included a virtual tour of the couple's home and garden as well as in-depth interviews with the couple. Mabel and Karl also provided detailed information about the neighborhood including schools, recreational options, healthcare providers and church-based activities. The judge found the home study to be very complete, and Randy's adoption was finalized. By exercising patience and an innovative use of technology, ISS-USA was able to reunite Randy with his family half a world away.
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International Social Service, USA Branch | 22 Light St., Suite 200, Baltimore, MD 21202 
443-451-1200 | communications@iss-usa.org
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