ISS-USA's Newsletter



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

A Message from our Executive Director   

Dear Friends of ISS-USA,  


A 16 year old girl from Honduras has arrived at our border after a 1500 mile journey during which she was subjected to violence, exposure to the extreme elements, lack of food and water, and worst of all, constant, unyielding fear. We ask ourselves, "Why would anyone undertake such a journey?" The simple answer is, that her family, like tens of thousands of other families from Central America, was forced to make the heartbreaking decision that this journey, with all its dangers, was a BETTER option than the danger she faced if she remained in Honduras.

Yet, the uncertainty of this girl's future, and thousands like her, does not end when she enters the United States. Maybe she will find the family members she hoped to connect with when she gets here. Or maybe she will be released to the custody of someone who does not have her best interest at heart. Maybe she will be very lucky and successfully obtain legal status through the courts. Or maybe she will attend her immigration hearings and be deported back to Honduras, only to try again to make the arduous journey back here in the relentless pursuit of a safe and healthy life.


As the U.S. tries to cope with the unprecedented number of children that have traveled to the U.S. in recent months, I urge you to read their stories, and regardless of your views on immigration, remember that they are children, without the care and protection of their families. When they are here, it is our human obligation, as Americans with many freedoms, not least of which to raise our children without fear of violence, to protect these newly arriving children and provide adequate care and support. They do not belong in refugee-like camps, warehouses, or vacated office buildings, but with appropriate families. (Read more here and here). In the short term, I am heartened by those coming forward to try to provide families and family-based care for these children. I just learned today that some states are connecting their providers with opportunities to be approved to provide more child appropriate shelter. Faith communities around the country are also asking how families in their communities can help by offering shelter in families.

Every child deserves to be treated with the same rights and dignity, regardless of where they come from, and where they will live. ISS-USA, has partnered with others, to develop user friendly, globally accepted, United Nations approved, best practices on how to care for children without parental care.  Without structure or a plan, the Obama administration's well-intentioned decision to boost funding for this challenge could be wasted. We need to insist that our government, and all those tasked with the care of these children, seek out the expertise of ISS-USA and other child welfare and social service professionals, use globally accepted best practices, and develop short and long term plans that take into account the cross border legal, and social needs of these children.


Best wishes,


News & Activities

ISS LEADERSHIP at Home and Abroad: 90 Years of Connecting Kids with Families Across Borders

Julie & Bob 


Bob Miles, Chair and Mary Mentaberry Vice-Chair and Julie Rosicky, Executive Director attended ISS' International Council meeting in Cascais, Portugal.  "There were several fantastic outcomes of this meeting," states executive director, Julie Rosicky, "First, we were able to demonstrate the significant progress made in the development and implementation of the network wide strategic plan. Second, Julie completed her two terms as the chair of the Professional Advisory Committee, and Fionn Skiotis, Executive Director of ISS Australia was elected to succeed her. Finally, Bob Miles, outgoing ISS-USA Board Chair, was elected chair of the Governing Board.  We are confident that Bob will build upon the great foundation that the outgoing governance has built and lead the new group to enhance its global capacity to serve more children and families world- wide, in its 90th year."



One week following Bob's election to chair the International Governing Board, the ISS-USA Board of Directors held its annual meeting at Levick, in Washington DC.  Mary Mentaberry was elected to serve a as the organization's chair.  Mary served for nearly 40 years with the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges.  She stated "I am honored to be elected to serve as chair during our organization's 90th Anniversary year, as ISS-USA embarks on the most ambitious and challenging course in its history."  

Learn More
Changing Climate of Parental Rights this Father's Day

This Sunday the more than 70 million fathers in the U.S. will be celebrated with hand-painted coffee mugs, new ties, and pancake breakfasts.  But not all fathers will be able to spend time with their children this Sunday.  A report from the Applied Research Center, states that in 2011 an estimated 5,100 children in 22 states were placed in the foster system after their parents were detained or deported.  The report goes on to say that 15,000 more children will be placed in the child welfare system as a result of deportation between 2012-2017. 


On August 23, 2013, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) issued the Facilitating Parental Interests in the Course of Civil Immigration Enforcement Activities Directive (Parental Interests Directive), which laid out the first attempt to integrate new policies and regulations to address this growing phenomenon.  Andrew Lorenzen-Strait of ICE will be speaking on this policy at our upcoming conference.

 ISS-USA's position on the deportation of individuals with U.S. children should be centered on what is in the best interest of the child.  Whenever we receive a request from an agency to facilitate the execution of a termination of parental rights orders, ISS-USA works with the requesting agency to ensure that proper parental notification procedures have been followed and that fathers are included in all decisions about the safety, well-being and permanency of their children even when they are in a different country.  Learn More 
Office of Children's Issues
Susan Jacobs 

On May 13, three of our staff visited the U.S. Department of State to meet with representatives from their Bureau of Consular Affairs, Office of Children's Issues. The purpose of the visit was to share updates on new projects and discuss areas where our work overlaps to find ways to enhance our partnership. We were fortunate to meet with a range of DOS staff including  representatives from both their parental abductions and international adoptions units. Key outcomes from our discussions included plans to share their quality resources about preventing parental abductions with our stakeholders, increasing cross-border services to families that contact DOS, and enhancing our collaboration through increased sharing of resources and information. One upcoming highlight related to our collaboration with DOS will be having Susan Jacobs,  DOS's Special Adviser for Children's Issues, join us as a speaker at our upcoming conference.  Learn More
Case of the Month

Jermaine* and his two siblings went to live with their Great Uncle in Brooklyn after their 80 year old grandmother was no longer able to care for them.  Jermaine's mother died from liver disease, and his father's substance abuse issues made him an unsuitable caretaker.  After several years, his Great Uncle retired to Costa Rica, where his family was from, bringing Jermaine and his older sister.  His older brother, no longer a minor, chose to stay in the U.S.  Eventually his older sister also returned to the U.S., and Jermaine, who had earlier been diagnosed as mentally handicapped, remained in Costa Rica.  His Great Uncle, who was aging, began to worry about what would happen to Jermaine when he could no longer care for him.   His Great Uncle visited the U.S. Embassy in November 2012 to cast his vote in the Presidential election and he inquired as to whether it would be possible to repatriate Jermaine to the U.S., but more importantly, what services might be available to assist Jermaine upon arrival.


Now, as an adult, in order to be eligible for services and supervised living arrangements Jermaine needed to have a series of evaluations completed.  However, the specific series of tests that was required to determine eligibly were only available in the U.S., and Jermaine could not return to the U.S. until he was deemed eligible and support services were already in place.  This could have been an insurmountable hurdle for Jermaine but ISS-USA focuses on creating solutions where none can be found.  In Jermaine's case, ISS-USA found a psychologist in Costa Rica with the proper credentials to make the necessary evaluations.  We then coordinated with the stateside testing commission, in order to certify the Costa Rican psychologist.   Tests were completed and forwarded to the Embassy, to ISS-USA, and then finally to the state agency.  Determining eligibility, however, was only the first step.  The next task was finding a placement in Brooklyn, as Jermaine wished to live as close to his old neighborhood as possible.  In a few months, ISS-USA arranged a travel plan, and by later that month, Jermaine was living in his new home, just blocks from where he had grown up and lived with his Great Uncle.  Today Jermaine still lives in Brooklyn, in a supervised home environment, and is in a program where he is learning to earn money, manage his money, and handle basic life skills.


His Great Uncle concluded, "It is a great privilege to be born in the U. S.  America supports its citizens and provides services to those who need them. What I could say is that I had no idea that this program existed. I am grateful the program existed... the people I interacted with at ISS, everybody was courteous, helpful, and patient and supportive in the whole process."

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


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