A team of us at International Social Service have just completed a small project for Save the Children-UK on children on the move in Mexico, the Northern Triangle countries of Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, and the United States.  The project focused on the mechanisms in place to protect these children. We conducted a survey in all the countries to try and understand what needs were not being met, and what services or supports would allow for better care of children who are internally or internationally displaced.  What struck us, once again, is the fact that both governmental and philanthropic funding in the U.S. almost entirely supports the legal defense of these children in immigration proceedings. Certainly, this is an important element of best practices for migrant children, but every country we investigated is in desperate need of expanded social services for these children. Once their immigration cases are concluded, there are far too few services in place to prepare children for return, or to sustain their return through reintegration services.

As we move forward in these uncertain times, we need to commit many more social service resources both here and abroad to support children on the move as they enter and exit our borders. There needs to be far better cross-border communication, cooperation, and coordination of cases involving children moving in to or out of each of our countries. We are, collectively, responsible for the long-term well-being of children in our care and children exiting our care.

Best Wishes,
Felicity Sackville Northcott
Director of External Partnerships and International Services 
International Social Service-USA
Who Did We Serve Last Month?
  • 21 children, including 2 unaccompanied minors, were safely returned to the U.S. from a foreign country
  • 48 vulnerable adults, like Laura, were safely repatriated to the U.S.
Recent Events
Photo courtesy of DIF Monterrey
Updates from Mexico: Family Strengthening for Children with Disabilities 

Led by International Social Service General Secretariat (GS)we recently helped carry out a training in Monterrey, Mexico from February 2nd-10th to support family strengthening strategies for children with disabilities and their families. The project, which the GS has already implemented in Vietnam, Burkina Faso and Mauritius, aims to prevent family separation and promote family reintegration by providing targeted training to child welfare workers and families. The event was organized in collaboration with the local child welfare agency, DIF Monterrey, which is the first in the nation to dedicate resources to family preservation for children with disabilities. 

Presentations by representatives of UNICEF, the Mexican Commission on Human Rights, Danielle Children's Fund of Ecuador, and other international experts featured topics such as family strengthening methods, enhancing community-based care, and capacity-building for professionals. Over the course of the training, participants worked in groups and developed plans to implement family-centered, community-based programs for families with children with disabilities. Participants commented that the training gave them new skills and that they benefited greatly from the opportunity to connect and build partnerships with other professionals in the field. The Mayor of Monterrey expressed his support for the project and committed to continue efforts to promote family strengthening and improve outcomes for children with disabilities. 

Together with our partners, we will continue to promote strategies to help children with disabilities grow up in a family setting and have access to professional services that meet their needs. Thanks to all who participated in this program! See more photos from the training.

Photo courtesy of DIF Monterrey
Family Strengthening: Deconstructing Alternative Practices 

Julie Rosicky, Executive Director, presented at the International Symposium, Family Strengthening: Deconstructing Alternative Practices in the Current Legislative Framework in New Delhi, India which took place February 21-22nd. 

Rosicky facilitated a workshop titled "Joyful Endings, Happy Beginnings: The Ongoing Journey to Alternative Care - Global Examples, Local Contexts." She was joined by Ian Anand Forber Pratt of the Centre for Excellence in Alternative Care, India.

The Symposium marked the launch 
of the National Resource Center of Foster Care (NRCFC). It was hosted in part  by the Centre for Early Childhood Development & Research , a collaborative venture between Jamia Millia Islamia and Save the Children India. Conference discussions spanned topics such as alternative care, family strengthening, adoption, foster care, and global standards and practices. Jamia Millia Islamia just became the first Indian University to begin training foster care workers. We're grateful to have participated in this initiative.
Upcoming Events
Highlighting Successful Strategies to Address the Needs of Children, Youth, and Families

Felicity Sackville Northcott - Director of External Partnerships & International Services, Elaine Weisman - Program Manager, and Ausias Orti Moreno - Research Fellow, will be speaking at CWLA's National Conference: Advancing Excellence in Practice and Policy: Highlighting Successful Strategies to Address the Needs of Children, Youth, and Families

Their presentation, which takes place on March 29th, will be included within the Conference's Immigration session. The session will address challenges, effective strategies, and best practices for culturally responsive services for unaccompanied children and refugee minors in three key areas: (1) outreach to, and preparation of, the sponsors to ensure effective care for and integration of children; (2) working with those who enter child welfare; and (3) best practices and resources to ensure the protection of children who are ordered or who voluntarily decide to return home. 

We look forward to this exciting opportunity to promote excellence in policy and practice to promote the safety and protection of children and families. 
How Community Surveys Can Help Children and Legal Stakeholders

In response to the growing number of unaccompanied children from the Northern Triangle region over the past three years, we created a new service: the Community Survey. This service outlines available resources for a child if he or she may be returned to their country of origin, details potential dangers and threats to which the child has been, or could be, exposed, and outlines gaps in services in that neighborhood. 

The Community Survey provides legal and social work partners with specific information about a child's home community. This can be helpful to determine whether it is in the child's best interest to remain in the U.S. and to identify reintegration services for that child.

Learn more about the Community Survey and other cross-border  services for children on our website or in this  excerpt from the Monthly Review, a publication by International Social Service General Secretariat - International Reference Center for the Rights of Children Deprived of their Family. 
We're Hiring!

Are you a business professional with an interest in social services? Apply for our new Business Development Manager position. Join our diverse and dynamic team to help support and protect kids and families across borders! 
LauraLaura Escapes Abuse & Returns Home

Laura, a U.S. citizen living in Hungary, was abused by her husband and needed to escape as soon as possible. We  helped Laura and her five young children safely return to Colorado to escape this domestic violence. Repatriation caseworkers collaborated with the Department of State and several agencies to help greet Laura and her children when they arrived, provide them with basic necessities, and resettle them in Colorado. Caseworkers also made sure Laura and her children could get counseling to help them recover and adjust to their new life. 

*Names and locations have been changed to ensure client confidentiality.

International Social Service, USA Branch | 22 Light St., Suite 200, Baltimore, MD 21202 
443-451-1200 | communications@iss-usa.org