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

A Message from our Executive Director   


Dear Friends of ISS-USA,  

Three weeks ago we had the privilege of hosting more than 130 participants at the University of Maryland, Baltimore to discuss Cooperation, Communication and Compassion: Developing Child Centered Practice in Law, Social work and Policy for Cross Border Families."  The feedback from participants was overwhelmingly positive and indicated that our presenters were well-prepared, engaging and organized.  The evaluations also revealed that the information presented on a variety of topics, including intercountry adoption, kinship care and the surge of unaccompanied children crossing from Central America through Mexico to the U.S., was relevant and very useful. 
Former Congressman Bruce Morrison kicked off the morning and called for investing in good decision making for cross-border families and demanding that U.S. lawmakers work across the aisles to compromise and communicate to achieve reform.  We also shared a letter of support from Senator Barbara Mikulski


The afternoon concluded with a dynamic group of esteemed guests facilitated by Ambassador Susan Jacobs, Special Advisor for Children's Issues at the U.S. Department of State:  Ambassador Liggoria, Guatemala, Ambassador Altschul, El Salvador, Ambassador Rodezno, Deputy Chief of Mission, Honduras, and Minister Riordon, Canada.  Each  spoke eloquently of their deep sadness to see their children suffering,  their optimism for change within their countries, and their realism that change will need to be multifaceted, and that working together with each other and the United States and Canada will be essential. 

This year's conference was a fantastic opportunity to learn from many experts doing important work in this field.  Watching those who may not have had much prior experience with these issues become engaged was the most satisfying aspect of the event.  We live in a global society, and what happens to children in one place affects people all over the world.  Until everyone embraces this notion and sets their policies and practices accordingly, our work is not done.  



Best wishes,


News & Activities
2013 Annual Report Now Available

We are proud to release our 2013 Annual Report.  Please take a look to learn more about who we help, where we work and what we do. 

Our annual report was designed by graphic designer and photographer Vincent Winter.    Vincent has a long history of contributing his artistic talents to work related to displaced persons.  He has an ongoing role designing for UNHCR's Refugee Magazine and his collection of photographs illustrating the contributions of resettled refugees in Utica, NY was given the prestigious"New America" award by the National Press Photographers Association (NPPA).  Vincent states "I am always intrigued to work with an organization whose stated goal is improving lives.  But my ISS-USA work is made particularly fulfilling by the close collaboration with the staff.  Their sense of experimentation and endless flow of good ideas turns every project into a 'voyage of experience.'"  If you happen to be in Paris on November 14th, you can see some of Vincent's new work at the art show Fotofever being held at the Carrousel du Louvre.  Learn More
ISS-USA Welcomes a New Board Member

Marlee Brown is a professional artist and Michigan native who was raised in Petoskey. Marlee works on location in her studios on Mackinac Island, Michigan and Portland, Oregon.

Her work hangs in many private and corporate collections, including a painting that was exhibited in the White House in Washington, D.C. She has exhibited extensively, including the Gallerie Chabin in Paris and the Wally Findlay Gallery in Chicago. Several of her paintings have been selected for the U.S. State Department's Art in the Embassies Program.  She is a member of Michigan Humanities Council and served on the board of the Make-A-wish Foundation from 1998 to 2008.  Marlee is a graduate of the University of Michigan and has studied at U.C. Berkley; in Tours France, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Art Students' League of New York, the National Academy of Design, Parsons School of Fine Art, Vermont Studio Center and En Plein Air School of Painting in Paris.


"As the mother of six and an adoptive parent the mission of International Social Service-USA is very close to my heart. Its focus on the needs of children across international boundaries serves a very vulnerable population and I am excited at the opportunity to become an advocate for these children. With my experience with such agencies as the Make-A-Wish Foundation and my experience as a business owner based in Michigan and Oregon I hope to bring a unique perspective to its mission."

Are you a Federal Employee?  If so, "Make it Possible."
International Social Service - USA Branch is an approved charity of the 2014 Combined Federal Campaign, "Make it Possible," as a part of the Unique and Noteworthy Charities Federation.  The 2014 campaign will remain open until December 15th, and all federal employees are eligible to make gifts to their charity of choice.  If you are a federal employee, please designate your gift to ISS-USA .  We can be found through our CFC # 60725, under our DBA Children and Families Across Borders or by searching for International Social Service - USA Branch at www.cfcnca.org.  State employees of New York, Maryland, California and Hawaii can also choose to make a gift to ISS-USA through their state charity campaigns.

Not a Federal or State employee, but looking for other creative ways to give?  Consider designating International Social Service-USA Branch as your charity of choice for online holiday shopping at goodshop.com.      

Either way, your gift is helping ISS-USA "Make it Possible" for vulnerable children and adults to be reconnected with their families, no matter the distance. 

The Distance Traveled:  How Far one Father Went for His Daughter

Earlier this year, ISS-USA was contacted by a man living in the U.S. The man, originally from Kenya,* was in a state of panic, having just been told by his 12 year old daughter that the root of her recent erratic behavior was sexual abuse that she had suffered at the hands of priest while they had been living in Kenya. The man contacted ISS-USA for two reasons; he believed that his daughter was suicidal and feared for her safety, and he was seeking to have the offending priest prosecuted for the allegations brought against him. As a social work organization, first and foremost, ISS-USA was concerned with ensuring that the child's safety was addressed. The father received immediate coaching on how to assess his daughter's state of mind, and was connected with suicide prevention services in his community.

The next immediate concern for ISS-USA was to ensure that the appropriate steps were taken to prevent potential further abuse.  ISS-USA gave the father a list of information that would be needed in order to issue a Protective Service Alert (a notice to local authorities that a child or children in their jurisdiction may be in danger). While awaiting this information, ISS-USA began reaching out to various organizations that provided services for the victims of abuse, including one that specialized in the victims of abuse through the clergy.   Desperate for resolution, during this period the father returned to Kenya, and brought back with him an alleged typed confession from the accused priest.    


A Protective Service Alert was made in Kenya, through ISS' local partner, to notify authorities of the accusations that had been made against the priest.  Unfortunately, because the confession was not hand written it could not be verified. Perhaps because a report of the priest's behavior had reached the local diocese in Kenya, the priest was no longer there.  It was rumored that he had been relocated to Spain. Currently, ISS-USA is working through it partner in Spain to share the allegations so that Spanish authorities can take appropriate actions. Additionally, our office is continuing its advocacy efforts in the U.S. to ensure that, despite a lack of insurance, the girl is able to access the services and support that she needs to begin healing from the trauma and abuse she has suffered. It is paramount to the mission of ISS-USA that borders do not become barriers and that all countries take the appropriate action in prosecuting cases of alleged abuse, no matter where the abuse occurred, and to protect any potential victims from harm.

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


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