MARCH 2022



A Quarterly Newsletter by International Social Service-USA

Greetings ISS Friends and Colleagues:

As the first quarter ends, we have much to be thankful for. In March, we celebrate Women’s History and Social Work Month. At ISS-USA, we celebrate these two events every single day with an all women team, many of whom are social workers. In 2021, this outstanding team provided cross-border services to a record number of individuals, surpassing our pre-pandemic caseloads.

ISS-USA celebrated 25 years of providing repatriation assistance to U.S. Citizens returning from other countries due to destitution, mental illness, and emergencies. ISS-USA is the grantee of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Office of Human Service Preparedness and Response. In 2021, the number of those returning was higher than any of the past 12 years; one third of those returning, were coming from Afghanistan. Caseloads were similarly as high for child welfare agencies seeking to find permanent family connections for children in their care. The case story below, Saved by a Father's Love describes how ISS-USA case managers support states by finding and assessing families in other countries, and in the U.S. More children were placed in 2021, as compared to 2020, and ISS-USA’s ISS partners in foreign countries routinely visited all children returning to families in foreign countries.

ISS-USA feels strongly that all children deserve the same due diligence in being reunited with family, regardless of whether their families live inside or outside the U.S. ISS-USA has researched equity in permanency and is pleased to release our findings below. We will be presenting this paper at many conferences this year. We are also committed to ensuring that as an organization, we create a culture of equity in everything that we do. Our internal equity landscape analysis is currently underway. 

Finally, as unprecedented numbers of Ukrainians are displaced within and outside their country borders, ISS-USA and the ISS network has responded as we have throughout our almost 100 year history, by supporting our colleagues in bordering countries to Ukraine; by issuing best practice guidelines pertaining to intercountry adoption, children on the move, children in orphanages and children born in surrogacy arrangements; and by being ready as a network to ensure that Ukrainian and children from all across the globe remain with family whenever possible, or are reunited as quickly as possible with family, no matter where they will be living. If you are compelled to donate to our efforts supporting Ukrainian families, you can do so below.

Thank you for connecting with us, so that we may connect cross-border families!

With gratitude,

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Julie G. Rosicky, CEO

Donate to Support Ukraine

Promoting Equity in Family Finding

In 2021, The Arthur C. Helton Institute at ISS-USA began preliminary research to identify existing policies that support and facilitate international connections for children and youth involved in the child welfare system. In 2022, ISS-USA launched an Equity in Permanency initiative which included researching and disseminating findings that elevate the issue of cross-border permanency planning as a critical – and often missing- component of equity discussions.


The preliminary findings, available here indicate gaps in policies and protocols related to engagement and or placement of children with family in another country. The report also identifies three key action areas:

  1. Incorporate cross-border permanency planning in equity discussions in order to more comprehensively combat disparities in family reunification
  2. Engage with national platforms, including Court Improvement Programs (CIP) and judicial entities, as they are essential in enforcing states’ responsibility to pursue family connections wherever they are
  3. Conduct further evaluation to understand state-level dynamics posing barriers to cross-border family engagement, as well as determine funding needed to develop targeted resources and tailor casework practice to meet the needs of children with international family connections


If you’re interested in learning more about how to work on cross-border cases contact:

Learn More

Saved by a Father's Love

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Javier and Social Worker (above)

In 2014, baby Javier Romero was born in Nicaragua to his mother Julia Lopez and father Miguel Romero. At the age of 3, Javier’s parents separated, and decided that the baby would stay with his father. A year later, Julia unexpectedly returned and took Javier back to her new home in Guatemala and never returned. That same year, Miguel went to Guatemala looking for his son but found out that Julia moved to the United States, taking Javier without consulting Miguel. Miguel finally uncovered his son’s whereabouts in 2020 after receiving a call from the Georgia Department of Human Services (GDHS).

It turns out that 6-year-old Javier was in custody of GDHS after he was seen getting hit by his stepfather at a gas station in Georgia. Witnesses called the local police department, and the stepfather was placed in police custody and Javier was taken in by GDHS. Unfortunately, Javier couldn’t return to Julia because she was deported for drug possession. Javier told social workers that he frequently witnessed episodes of violence between his mother and stepfather. Social workers considered Javier’s biological father as an option for care.

GDHS contacted ISS-USA. GDHS requested that ISS-USA conduct a home study of Miguel’s home in Nicaragua. With the help of ISS-USA and a local social worker in Nicaragua, it was determined that Miguel had a stable family, a safe home, and a nearby school for Javier to thrive in. It was apparent how much Miguel missed and loved his son. Shortly after the home study was conducted, Javier and a social worker flew to Nicaragua where he was reunited with his father.

ISS-USA followed up with Javier and found that he is healthy and happy to be home with his father.

Refer a Case

ISS Case Manager from the Mid-West

Welcome Melissa Aguilar

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Melissa is a first-generation Mexican-American college graduate with a B.A. in Psychology, from the University of Southern California, and graduate degrees, a Master of Social Work and a M.S. in Criminal Justice from Loma Linda University. She has been married for 10 years and has 4 children. She currently lives in South Dakota, but was born and raised in Palm Springs, CA. Melissa and her family are missionaries for their church and relocated from California to South Dakota to continue their missionary work and in turn have become full-on Midwesterners. Melissa has experience working in child welfare, medical social work, and rehabilitation. Melissa has a passion for social work and is quickly learning all she can about ISS-USA while sharing her own professional experiences with the ISS-USA case management team.

Work with ISS-USA

Welcome Zihe Zhu

Zihe joined ISS-USA this February as a development and communications intern. He is currently a junior studying Sociology and Economics at Johns Hopkins University. He spent his earlier years in Beijing, China, and attended high school in San Diego, California. Zihe plans to pursue a master's in International Studies and his goal is to explore international organizations that aim to support people in need. He’s eager to work with ISS-USA to better understand how the organization provides the best help for children and their families.

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Welcome Kalani Nash

Kalani is originally from Frederick, Maryland and has been attending Stevenson University for the past four years. He will be graduating this May with a Counseling and Human Services Degree, with a focus on Drug abuse and Addiction Rehabilitation. His inspiration for helping people who struggle with drug abuse comes from numerous life experiences where he has seen lives thrown away due to drugs. Kalani hopes to eventually become an advocate for drug abusers, and make change in the community on a large scale. Outside of ISS, he works at Wegmans Food Markets. In Kalani’s free time he enjoys watching movies and television, spending time with friends and family, traveling, and playing video games.

Intern/Volunteer with ISS-USA

ISS-USA Presented at Two International Conferences


Families in Global Transition (FIGT) held their annual virtual conference from March 24-27. ISS-USA’s Elaine Weisman hosted a “Kitchen Table Conversation” at the conference entitled “Providing Social Services in the Era of COVID-19: Reflections from Professionals and Families.” The conversation, which was developed in collaboration with ISS’s Lebanese partner himaya, centered on personal and professional adjustment to virtual work from the perspective of social service professionals.


On March 28th, Weisman presented at the 2022 ISPCAN Congress hosted by Quebec City. The presentation, entitled “Engaging Families Across Borders: Strategies for Inclusive Permanency Planning,” presented preliminary findings from exploratory research undertaken by staff and volunteers of the ISS-USA’s Arthur C. Helton Institute. The research looked at existing state child welfare policies related to engaging or placing children with their families in other countries, and findings presented here: include recommendations for policy-makers and child welfare practitioners.

Learn More

Work for ISS-USA

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Current Job Openings:

-Repatriation Case Manager

-Licensed Social Workers for Contract Positions (multiple positions available)

Careers with ISS-USA
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