May 2015

ISS-USA's Newsletter
 

 INTERNATIONAL SOCIAL SERVICE| UNITED STATES OF AMERICA BRANCH, INC

200 EAST LEXINGTON STREET, SUITE 1700 | BALTIMORE MD 21202 443-451-1200 

A Message from our Executive Director   

 

Dear Friends of ISS-USA,   

 

ISS-USA has called the City of Baltimore home for more than 20 years. As many of you know the past few weeks have been extremely challenging times for our city, particularly for the vulnerable populations that live here. There were many images of our young people both venting their frustration at some of the entrenched problems in Baltimore, and others peacefully demonstrating their deep commitment to the safety and well-being of our city and her citizens.

 

If the state of our youth is a measure of the success of a community, Baltimore, like many cities around the world must do more to ensure that our children have access to all they need to prosper and develop to their full capacity, including maintaining their place in a safe and loving family. For too long too many children in cities around the world fallen through the cracks of child protection systems. They have not been provided with the most basic necessities including adequate food, safe housing, a good education, or universal access to healthcare. The children of poor families in Baltimore face the very same challenges as children in poor families in cities in countries with far fewer resources than the United States. It is time that we do more to promote the safety, permanency, and well-being of all the children in our cities and provide them with a more positive sense of self and a brighter vision of their futures.

 

On May 15th we will be celebrating International Day of the family. It is time to remind ourselves that we are ALL responsible for ensuring that children grow up in loving and permanent families so that they will become the voice of future generations in their communities. I am certain that the more support, resources, and protection we offer our children and families from the very beginning, the healthier our communities will be. Please join us in continuing to raise awareness of, and advocating for, the importance of family and the necessity of strong and sustainable families to protect and nurture every child. This is a global priority, and we all must do our part on May 15th, and every day.

 

Best wishes,  

   

Julie   

News & Activities
Celebrating Successes  

CWLA President Christine James-Brown, Julie and Jodianna
On April 29th, ISS-USA Executive Director, Julie Rosicky, and Development Officer, Jodianna Ringel, attended the the closing lunch of the Child Welfare League of America's 2015 National Conference, Advancing Excellence through Innovation & Collaboration, to accept our National Blueprint Champion for Excellence Award in the category of Agency Innovator.  ISS-USA is deeply honored by this award, and congratulates Dr. Angelique Day who won the Individual Award, and the Hon. Ramón Luis Rivera Curz, Mayor of Bayamon, Puerto Rico who won the Community Partner Award. 

ISS-USA is also pleased to have received funding to improve and expand our partnerships with child welfare agencies in Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador to strengthen the regional resources for migrant children moving between the Northern Triangle and the United States.  

Learn More

ISS-USA Presents to Members of the ICPC

Dr. Felicity Sackville Northcott, Director of External Partnerships and International Services took part in a panel discussion at the 2015 Annual Meeting of the Association of Administrators of the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (AAICPC).  Her presentation "Best Practices in Cross-border Child Welfare: Ensuring the Safety and Well-being of Kids with International Family Connections" focused on the options available to child welfare professionals in identifying and accessing resources for unaccompanied children, children from undocumented families, and other children with potential cross-border family members.  The interstate compact workers are the ones to which international cases are often first referred, and as a result ISS-USA works closely with ICPC offices in every state.  ISS-USA will continue to strengthen our outreach and training to all front line child welfare workers to ensure that every child has equal access to a safe and permanent home.  


International Day of the Family  
May 15th is International Day of Families. This year the United Nations is using the day "to raise awareness and mobilize support for action to ensure gender equality and rights of children within families and prevent family violence."  In particular, the UN is promoting the role of family law in protecting women and children from violence that is often justified through societal norms and customs.  Working in over 120 countries around the world, ISS-USA recognizes the great importance of understanding and respecting the differences in cultural definitions of what comprises a family.  We make great strides to bridge the cultural divides that exist between countries and to promote family preservation and reunification in culturally sensitive ways.  However, we believe that each and every individual's right to live free from fear and violence, especially within their own family, will always remain paramount. 

Protecting Children Across Borders

The protection of vulnerable children requires the cooperation of law enforcement, social services, the courts, and the community. ISS-USA works with our partners around the globe to make sure that when there is a threat to the safety and well-being of a child that all interested parties are provided with the information, documentation and expert guidance they need to protect those children from harm. The following case from our partner in Bulgaria* illustrates the many ways the ISS Federation works cooperatively, across borders to protect children.

 

In 2009 a youth pastor from Oregon was convicted of sexually abusing two young boys during counseling sessions at his church. The pastor was a licensed, clinical social worker and had been counseling the boys after they had each experienced emotional abuse in their homes and began acting out in school. The boys were reluctant, at first, to report the abuse because they feared that they would not be believed. Each of the boys had committed petty crimes over the previous year and each believed that these crimes would permanently label them as "bad boys" not to be believed. When they finally mustered the courage to report the abuse to their counselor at school the youth pastor was arrested. Several other boys then came forward to testify that they, too, had been abused by the pastor.

 

The pastor was convicted and served two years in prison. He was released in 2012 and returned home to his family. He also resumed his pastoral duties at a new church. In 2014 a boy went to the police and reported that the pastor had physically assaulted him by punching him on the face and twisting his arm when he refused to engage in sexual acts with the pastor. While the police were investigating the incident the pastor fled to his home country of Bulgaria.

 

ISS-Bulgaria requested that ISS-USA do a Child Abuse Registry check on the pastor after he was accused of several acts of sexual abuse in Bulgaria. The court in Bulgaria wanted to verify that there was a criminal history in America. ISS-USA checked the registry and determined that the pastor was listed as a Class B Felon and was in violation of his parole. The information provided by ISS-USA will be used to support the criminal case now pending in Bulgaria.   

 

*Please note that the country, state and profession of the individual have all been changed to protect confidentiality.


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*Names and places have been changed to protect the privacy of our clients

 

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