For nearly one-hundred years, the International Social Service (ISS) Network has worked to connect children and families separated across borders. ISS plans and executes safe repatriation and reintegration services for cross-border families, while promoting policies and best practices in international child welfare. Recently, the policy of separating children from their families seeking asylum at the southern border of the United States has garnered a great deal of negative attention from child welfare experts and is not in line with child-centered, human rights policies in the best interest of the child.
The outrage and sorrow we feel by the separation (or mass incarceration) of families who present themselves at our border is intense. Parents do not make the decision lightly to take the harrowing journey with their children from their home country. It is heartbreaking and difficult, but in many cases they do it to save their children’s lives and give them a better future.
Lacking from proposed solutions to family separation issues is the recognition of social services needed to connect families within the U.S. and across international borders. Parents making difficult choices deserve the opportunity to be involved in decision-making for their children. U.S-based family members should also feel supported in their efforts to protect children who can safely be released to a sponsor.
Social service professionals have an overlooked and important role to play in this crisis and with separated families as a whole. International Social Service – USA (ISS-USA) practices family finding and engagement for all children in institutional care and the coordination of domestic and international social work services to ensure child protection is at the forefront of decision making. Here is a list of services ISS-USA offers for children.
It was the Wisdom of Solomon that illustrated the love a parent has for a child. A parent would rather lose their child than allow them to be harmed in any way. The fate of these separated children is now uncertain and we must demand that they are reunited with their families as quickly as possible. Providing essential cross-border social services is an integral part of the reunification process.