February 2015

ISS-USA's Newsletter


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A Message from our Executive Director   


Dear Friends of ISS-USA,  

Gabriele Scholz (ISS Germany), Julie & Laura Parker (ISS-UK / CFAB) 


In January we reviewed our success of the previous year and created new goals for this one.  This month we got started working towards those goals.  I had the good fortune to begin February in the company of my ISS colleagues in Geneva. We worked on developing actions to implement our federation's strategic plan. Throughout this month myself and other members of the ISS-USA staff have been meeting with individuals from around the world who are coming together to exchange best practices in the field of cross-border service delivery.

As we continue to fight for the best interests of children who are migrating and/or become separated from their families in other ways, we are encouraged that the U.S. government is acting to protect children by investing in the prevention of root causes of migration. We are also thrilled that Somalia has taken action in ratifying the CRC, but continue to be frustrated that the U.S. has not.  Finally we are delighted by the ever increasing numbers of cases we are receiving from states for services overseas.  ISS-USA is experiencing the busiest beginning to a new year yet. Each one of these cases represents a child, or children, who will move closer to permanency because of the work of the ISS Federation partners.


Best wishes,  



News & Activities
Visiting With International Colleagues

On January 28th, ISS-USA met with child protection colleagues from 18 countries, including our ISS representatives from the Bahamas and Venezuela, as a part of the Department of State's International Visitor Leadership Program, hosted by the World Trade Center Institute in Baltimore
.   At the meeting ISS-USA had the opportunity to speak with lawyers from these countries to discuss a variety of issues related to legal protections for children and how international legal and social work cooperation can be employed to resolve issues such as cross-border abduction and trafficking. 
The following week, Julie Rosicky met with Japanese lawyers Mikiko Otani and Ai Kuroda and Melissa Kucinski of MK Family Law to discuss Japan's plan to expand their network of international family mediators as the country begins to fulfill its obligation under the Hague 1980 Child Abduction Convention.  In addition to a recently published guide on International Family Mediation, the ISS Federation is also in the process of creating an expansive database of professional international mediators.

Learn More
Somalia Ratifies the UN CRC 

In ISS-USA's last blog we discussed the fact that the United States' continues to refuse to ratify the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).  It was noted that the U.S. was only one of three countries that had not yet ratified the CRC.  On January 20th, that number shrunk to just two as Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud marked the CRC's ratification in front of hundreds of school children.  This leaves just South Sudan and the U.S. as the only two countries that have yet to ratify the treaty.  As explained by the United Nations News Center, Somalia still has yet to ratify the Optional Protocols of the treaty that cover protecting children from trafficking, prostitution and child pornography; prohibiting their recruitment in armed conflict; and allowing children to bring forward their complaints to the UN if their rights are being abused.  ISS-USA applauds the Somali government in this great step forward in the advancement of children's rights, and urges our own government to follow suit.   


Connecting Families in the Americas

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced a new program this week to provide certain qualified minors an alternative means of entering the U.S. legally.  The program, In-Country Refugee/Parole Processing for Minors in Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala or simply the CAM Program, has been in effect since December 1, 2014 and will allow certain qualified parents, who are lawfully in the U.S., to request access to the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program for their children still residing in one of these three countries.  
Additionally, the Obama Administration has requested $1 billion in next year's budget for development programs in Central America.  While the exact programs benefiting from this spending are as yet unclear, ISS-USA applauds the acknowledgement that the decision to migrate is based on circumstances in both the sending and receiving countries, and that an increased level of international cooperation in the region is necessary to work toward a solution.   

Reconnecting Families

In August of 2010 Ashley's* mother was diagnosed with Lupus and felt unable to care for her.  Her mother asked her ex-husband, Ashley's stepfather, to take her with him as he relocated to Malta to begin a new relationship with a woman he met online.  In December of that year, Ashley and her stepfather arrived in Malta, knowing no one but the stepfather's girlfriend.  Ashley remained in touch with her mother for the next year and visited her in Oregon in January of 2012.  The mother's health was improving and she had begun a new relationship.  Ashley stayed in Oregon for several weeks and returned to Malta in February.  In her absence her father and his girlfriend had gotten married and the new stepmother no longer wanted Ashley in the couple's home.  Ashley, was sent to live with a teacher from her music conservatory, where she was discovered to be a piano prodigy.   


In October of 2014 Ashley decided she wanted to visit her mother again, but because of her unusual living situation the teacher requested that the court verify that Ashley's mother was fit to care for her.  There were rumors that the mother was dying and unable to provide proper care and supervision.  Malta requested that ISS-USA conduct an assessment of the mother and her husband to ensure that a visit would be safe and appropriate.  In November of 2014 ISS-USA completed the home study and found that the mother and her new husband were more than able to care for Ashley during a visit or even full time.  Ashley had not lived with, or seen, her stepfather for over 15 months and her mother hoped Ashley would come home to Oregon and become part of the family once again.  Ashley arrived in Oregon in December, but returned to Malta in early February to continue her musical education.  She plans to return to Oregon permanently at the end of the school year.    



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


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