March 2015

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,  


On March 8th the world celebrated International Women's Day.  At ISS we joined that celebration by honoring the fact that we are an organization founded by women more than 90 years ago.  Even today over 70% of all ISS staff worldwide are women.  The foresight of our founding mothers and the professionalism and dedication of our current staff have been the cornerstone of the success of our federation.


ISS has been breaking new ground in social work, family reunification and child protection for nearly a century.  On March 17th we will celebrate World Social Work Day.  Our organization employs professional social workers in 120 countries around the globe.  When ISS was founded no one could have imagined that our professional reach would cover so much of the world.  Today more and more people are recognizing the need for a trained social work workforce, and ISS has benefited from the collaboration and cooperation of the growing numbers of social workers around the world.   


Finally, we joined the University of Minnesota to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Social Welfare Archives.  As you will see below, the ISS archives, one of the most used in the collection, have helped to connect a biological father with his biological son, as well as many other families over the years.  Our history is an integral part of our future, and we are pleased to mark these important milestones with our colleagues and friends.


We will be celebrating the 90th anniversary of the establishment  of our extraordinary federation this year at a special event in Washington, D.C. Please check our Facebook and Twitter feeds for monthly posts about our history. 

Best wishes,  



News & Activities
Celebrating our History

On February 19th, ISS-USA's Development Officer, Jodianna Ringel, visited the Social Welfare History Archives
at the University of Minnesota to celebrate their 50th Anniversary.  Founded in 1964 by historian Clarke Chambers, the archives preserve the records of over 600 social welfare and social reform organizations.  These collections, including ISS-USA's administrative and case files, may easily have been lost without the foresight of Mr. Chambers.  

Today, ISS-USA still uses these records to help individuals trace family members with whom they have lost contact as a result of forced or voluntary migration or international adoption.  We are also using the archives to help fill in the gaps in our historical record in preparation for this year's 90th Anniversary Celebration. 
Learn More

Improving Services for Children Around the World

The International Social Service Federation has begun a new global initiative aimed at promoting the right of children with disabilities living in institutions to access family-based care.  The project will train staff and caregivers on the special needs of these children.  The project is being implemented in Vietnam, Mauritius, Mexico and Burkina Faso.  The ISS Federation hopes to expand the project to Romania, Colombia and Peru. 

Save the Children has issued the report of their November meeting in Stockholm, Children on the Move and ICT.  Protection Without BorderISS-USA's Executive Director, Julie Rosicky, attended the meeting In addition to providing details of the meeting itself, the report also provides strategies and best practices for preventing the unsafe migration of children and protecting children who have migrated.  The report also highlights key initiatives in this area. 


World Social Work Day 2015 
Next Tuesday, March 17th, is World Social Work Day.  This year the International Federation of Social Workers has chosen the theme "Promoting the Dignity and Worth of peoples".  The theme focuses  on the joint work of IFSW, The International Association of Schools of Social Work and The International Council on Social Welfare to influence international, regional and local policies, government actions and highlight the value and contributions that social workers make everyday throughout the world.

We here at ISS-USA believe this celebration is a good time to remember that the field of social work encompasses a broad range of often overlooked activities.  Social work embodies social justice and social reform, which can be seen in the work of ISS-USA promoting the best interest of the child, advocating for the fair treatment of immigrants and refugees and placing the family at the center of policy debates.  This year ISS-USA will promote the idea that now is the perfect time to #Rethink Social Work.   

How Old Files Forge New Relationships

In 1975 Robert* was an 18 year old soldier stationed in Spain for two years. Two months into his stay he met, and fell in love, with a young Spanish woman, Sophia.  Despite the protestations of her family about the relationship it continued for 18 months.  The two often met in secret, because her family disapproved so strongly of the inter-racial relationship.  Six months after they met Sophia became pregnant.  Robert was thrilled, but Sophia knew her family would never allow her to marry Robert or keep the child.  On the day their son was born, Robert was only briefly able to see him before being forced to leave the hospital by Sophia's parents.

Robert completed his tour in Spain and returned to the U.S.  He thought often of his son, but his letters to Sophia were returned unopened.  Robert moved forward with his life, eventually marrying and moving to Oregon where he worked as a traveling sales representative for a nationwide auto supply company.  He had two children and  tried to put thoughts of his son in Spain behind him. 

In July 2014 Robert's son reached out to ISS-Spain for help in locating his birth records.  Ironically, the son had been adopted through ISS by an American family and was living in North Carolina.  ISS-Spain referred the case to ISS-USA for a tracing on the father.

ISS-USA retrieved the adoption file from the University of Minnesota archives, and within one month Robert had been located and was absolutely thrilled to hear that his son wanted to be in contact with him.  He received his first letter from his son in October.  The last line of the letter said, "I used to be just Robert, now I am Robert, Jr." Sophia had managed to give her son his father's name before she had to give him up for adoption.

Robert and Robert Jr. continue to write and share pictures of their families.  They hope that they will meet in person soon.


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


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