Join us in reuniting children with families this month
One of the best aspects of these convenings was having the opportunity to listen to first-hand accounts from youth and adults who had been separated from their families and who had experienced traumatic situations. We had the honor of listening to individuals who had been abducted, who had grown up in institutions because of their disability, who migrated to the U.S. to reunite with family members, or who found out as an adult that their biological father was a sperm donor. The takeaway messages were very clear: in all of these complex scenarios, we must focus on the needs of each individual child. Children deserve our patience, information about what is happening to them, the right to know their biological families, and the right to know what their legal rights are. When children become separated from their families, their voices need to be heard so that we, as advocates and practitioners, can ensure that what we are doing is best for the child. Ultimately, it is our responsibility as child protection experts to keep children from harm, advocate for their rights, include their voices, and help prevent future abuse and exploitation. We must continue to make sure that our work focuses on the best interests of each child and that the child's voice is never lost, but rather, included as an important part of the way forward.

In the eloquent words of Mihaela Ivanova, "There is alternative care, but there is no ALTERNATIVE childhood!" We must learn from the traumatic experiences of these children and adults who have been separated from their families and work with children, adults, lawmakers, families, social work and legal professionals and other key stakeholders to both protect these vulnerable groups and prevent harm from happening to others.

Best Wishes,
Julie Rosicky
Executive Director, International Social Service-USA
6th Annual Fall Conference: The Ties That Bind

Thanks to many of you for joining us at our 6th Annual Fall Conference! Thanks to your participation and enthusiasm, nearly 80 social service workers, legal professionals, government workers, and key stakeholders convened and shared ideas about cross-border topics including International Parental Abduction, Rehoming and Adoption, Unaccompanied Minors, and Reproductive Technologies. Ready to take action and learn more about these areas? Visit our blog to see our list of key takeaways and conference themes. See more photos from the event courtesy of Michelle Montgomery Photography  on our Facebook Album.

Thousands of Children in Foster Care Need Permanent Families

Every year, more than 100,000 children and youth in the U.S. foster care system seek permanent families. In recent years, there has been an increase in the number of children in foster care, despite efforts to reunite children with their families as soon as possible. 

Join us in raising CRITICAL awareness about the need for finding permanent families for children in the U.S. foster care system, especially for the thousands of children aged 15-18, who are often less likely to be adopted and who frequently age out of the system without a family or place to call home. 

We work to s ecure lifelong connections for youth through permanency planning activities, including providing relative tracings to find family connections for children in state care, and reference reports on prospective parents to ensure a child will be placed in a safe and healthy home. Read how we helped Serena, one little girl, find a permanent, safe new home with adoptive parents, or visit our website to learn more about  our services for children.

What you can do:
  • Join the conversation on social media using the hashtags #AdoptionMonth #NAM2016 to raise awareness
  • Contribute to International Social Service to support permanency planning services that help children find a permanent and safe home
  • Share Child Welfare Information Gateway's resources for children, families, and practitioners
Exciting Resource for Families & Practitioners
International Family Mediation Website

IFM is an innovative resource for both families and professionals that offers unrestricted access to existing services, networks, and resources about cross-border mediation. This website will promote and facilitate access to international family mediation resources for cross-border family conflicts and parental child abduction cases.  Visit the IFM Website

"ISS endeavors to make this material available to more families, professionals and legal & administrative authorities handling cross-border conflicts worldwide."  - Jean Ayoub, International Social Service Secretary General

How can we work together to provide appropriate solutions for children without parental care?
Building on Momentum: 
Alternative Care Conference

Hundreds of participants, including practitioners, academics, researchers, and government representatives, gathered to discuss that question and many more in Geneva on October 3-5 at the  International Alternative Care Conference.  T he conference, which focused on improving policy and practice in the alternative care field, was hosted by the International Institute for the Rights of the Child (IDE) and the Center for Children's Rights Studies at the University of Geneva (CIDE), in partnership with steering committee members including International Social Service-General Secretariat (ISS-GS). Participants examined practices for the prevention of family breakdown, family strengthening, and the provision of quality forms of alternative care.

A Better Future is Possible
At  Building on Momentum Marie Jenny, Special Project Unit Coordinator at ISS-GS, gave a  presentation   about the International Social Service global network's projects benefiting children with disabilities and officially launched A Better Future is Possible: a Manual for Professionals Working With Children With Disabilities. International Social Service General Secretariat, in collaboration with DIF Monterrey-Mexico, International Social Service USA, and other child protection experts, will embark on a project to improve alternative care opportunities for children with disabilities in residential care institutions in Monterrey, Mexico. This project will aim to support family strengthening, prevent family separation, and promote family reintegration through technical assistance and targeted training of professionals.  Learn more about what the International Social Service Network is doing to support children with disabilities.
Upcoming Presentations

Strategies for Resolving Cases Straddling International Borders
Ensuring Due Diligence for Children in Domestic Foster Care: Best Practices in Cross-Border Child Welfare
November 15, 2016

Felicity Sackville Northcott, Director of External Partnerships and International Services, along with Ann Estin, International Social Service, USA Board Member and Aliber Family Chair in Law at the University of Iowa College of Law, will speak at  The American Association of Health and Human Services Attorneys (AAHHSA) Annual National Conference . Their session is titled:  S trategies for Resolving Cases Straddling International Borders,  and Felicity's presentation will specifically cover:  Ensuring Due Diligence for Children in Domestic Foster Care: Best Practices In Cross Border Child Welfare
This session will examine unique legal issues that arise during cross-border cases such as when one or both parents of a child who enters the foster care system live in another country, or when a U.S. citizen child returned from overseas must be placed in foster care. Northcott and Estin will explore issues such as the availability of international judicial assistance, the obtaining of evidence and legalization of foreign documents, the role of foreign consul, and how International Social Service USA and the global network can aid in resolving complex cross-border cases. 
Promote and Protect the Rights of Children
Universal Children's Day
November 20, 2016

On Universal Children's Day, join us in promoting and protecting the rights of children around the world to make sure kids are safe, healthy, happy, and strong. 
International Social Service prevents cross-border child abuse and neglect around the world by making sure children are placed in safe homes, by conducting background checks on potential caregivers, and by checking on the welfare of children in other countries. Learn more about  our services for children across borders.
Read more about  Universal Children's Day
CaseSerena Finds a Loving New Home With Her Aunt

Serena, an 11 month-old girl, had been living with her parents in the U.S. who neglected her due their drug addictions. Her dangerous home life reached a dire turning point when her father was arrested for drug possession and her mother could not be found. To remove Serena from harm, she was placed in foster care when her father was arrested for drug possession and her mother's whereabouts were unknown. Serena's Aunt Sophie in Panama was identified as a potential relative who could provide Serena with a loving, permanent home. International Social Service-USA collaborated with social workers in Panama to check whether Sophie and her husband could take care of Serena and give her the care she needed. After visiting their house and meeting with Sophie and her husband, caseworkers and International Social Service-USA decided that Serena would thrive in this new environment with her aunt and uncle. Sophie was thrilled and eager to adopt Serena. There were two options for adoption: (1) Follow procedures under the Hague Adoption Convention because both Panama and the U.S. are parties to the convention and because Serena's aunt and uncle were citizens of Panama; or (2) Follow domestic procedures because Sophie and her husband were also U.S. Citizens. The state opted to perform the adoption as a domestic case rather than as a Hague Convention adoption in this unique case. This allowed Sophie to adopt Serena as soon as possible, which was in Serena's best interest since she was only 11 months old. We helped coordinate Sophie's travel between Panama and the U.S. so she could attend all court meetings related to the adoption. After Sophie adopted Serena, we followed-up several times to check on Serena's well-being. We found that she was flourishing in her new home with her adoptive parents. Serena, now four years old, continues to thrive. A bilingual English and Spanish speaker, Serena is well-adjusted to life in Panama with her family.
Help more children, like Serena, find a permanent home with family by donating to International Social Service, USA.

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