Presentation on theme: "Working Together to Serve the Best Interest of the Child"— Presentation transcript:
1Working Together to Serve the Best Interest of the Child The Role of social workers in international legal cooperation in family & child LAWWorking Together to Serve the Best Interest of the ChildOctober 2011
2Today’s talking points 1. Overview of the role of social work in child protection2. The role of social workers when implementing policy, laws, and treaties3. How to build capacity of social workers to protect children in international contexts4. Improving cooperation and collaboration between social workers and legal/judicial partners in child protection5. Recommendations for mutually supportive, sustainable international social work and legal cooperation
5Iss-usa: who we are and what we do Vision: ISS-USA envisions a worldin which all interested parties haveaccess to the technical, structuraland practical support to achieve thebest interest of children, adults andfamilies separated by internationalbordersMission: The mission of ISS-USA is to promote resolutions in the best interests of children, adults and families separated by international borders. ISS-USA accomplishes its mission through the provision of intercountry social services, research, training, technical assistance and advocacy.ISS-USA was established in 1926 in response to the millions of people affected by increased global migration , including refugees and displaced persons particularly women and children separated between countries from their husbands/fathers who had migrated to the US ahead of them.Continue today to work with children and families separated across international borders for a number of reasons.Three main components to ISS-USA’s work a) Inter-country case management, 2) Repatriation, 3) Institute (research/TA/advocacy)
6ISS-USA...provides case management, technical assistance, and serves as a key resource for obtaining and understanding necessary information to support the family plan, child placement and permanency optionsISS-USA works with states, agencies, governmental offices, and individuals.Have several state contracts and do fee for service for others and individuals.When a case is referred to us by one of our affiliates there is no charge.
7ISS Global NetworkHighlight that ISS-USA is part of international network in 100+ countries. If don’t have a partner is a specific country where service has been requested, usually can find someone qualified to complete the work through our network.3 different types of ISS affiliates (branches, bureaus, correspondents) – all do same type of work cooperatively. EXPLAIN the difference in type of affiliate.Our governing body, GS, is in Geneva, Switzerland
8ISS-USA Services Tracing for family members Tracing needed documents including birth, death and marriage certificatesInternational home studiesInternational mediation for custody and visitationPost-placement follow-upCriminal and Child Abuse Registry ChecksChild Protection AlertsRepatriating U.S. citizens from abroad, including unaccompanied minorsTechnical Assistance on a wide variety of international child welfare issuesTraining for legal and social service personnel working with children with international dimension to their case.Our website describes these services in more detail and can easily contact us through the website about any of these services.Provide a few examples (post adoption tracings; tracing & home studies for relative placements; PSA)Highlight also provide TA on numerous international child welfare issues/questions
9What iss-usa does not do... ISS-USA does not provide :Translation of documents into the language of the country to where they will be sent;Translation into English of documents received from ISS Units abroad;Funds for child welfare staff to travel to visit a child in living abroad;Funds to bring children back to the US after an overseas placement;Funds to bring family members from abroad for court hearings or to take custody of a child involved in the child welfare system;Legal advice;Home studies in Hague adoption cases.
10the role of social work in child protection An overview
11Social workers are critical When working with children and families, the primary focus for the social worker is finding solutions in the best interest of children.Our argument: While there is no explicit reference to the need or role of social workers in domestic and international laws, conventions, or policies on child protection, the effective implementation of these legal agreements and public policies relies on the efforts of social workers. Therefore, we argue that strong social work practices and the use of social workers is paramount to ensuring that children are safe and protected.
12Social workers are critical “The best interest of the child” is an internationally recognized conceptThe Convention on the Rights of the Child, 1990Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, 1980Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co- operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption, 1993Hague Convention on Jurisdiction, Applicable Law, Recognition, Enforcement and Co-operation in Respect of Parental Responsibility and Measures for the Protection of Children, 1996Our argument: While there is no explicit reference to the need or role of social workers in domestic and international laws, conventions, or policies on child protection, the effective implementation of these legal agreements and public policies relies on the efforts of social workers. Therefore, we argue that strong social work practices and the use of social workers is paramount to ensuring that children are safe and protected.
13Social Workers play multiple roles Social Analystassess the situation and help people understand their optionsSocial Catalystresponsible for the provision of services that will bring about change for the individual, family, community, or systemSocial Activistworking through social relationships to sustain change
14implementing policy, laws, and treaties The role of social workers
15Implementation of laws & conventions Social workers are key to effective implementation of current domestic and international laws and conventions on child welfare issues
16Role of social workers in international conventions International Hague Convention on International Adoption (1993)U.N. Guidelines for Alternative Care of ChildrenInternational Hague on Abduction (Hague 1980)Child Protection Convention (Hague 1996)
17Role of social workers in Domestic laws Fostering Connections Act of 2008Wrongful separation of children from their parents in the U.S.
18How to build capacity of social workers protecting children in international contexts
19Building social work capacity Building the capacity of social workers both in the U.S. and other countries needs to become a priority and resources need to be devoted to the social work profession to ensure the protection of children in international contexts.
20What needs to happen?Capacity needs to be increased in both the U.S. and other countriesGraduate-level programs need to integrate the notion of transnational families into the general curriculumAttention needs to be paid to the recruitment and retention of professional social workersFinancial, training, and content-specific resources needs to be increased for child welfare workers
21Improving cooperation and collaboration between social workers and legal/judicial partners in child protection
22cooperation and Collaboration In order to have an effective system of child protection in any one country, regionally, or globally, it is imperative that all the actors are working cooperatively with the single aim of ensuring the best interest of the child.
23cooperation and Collaboration Social workers can step in where the law ends in order to best meet the needs of the childBoth the social work and legal professions need to partner with governmental and non-governmental organizations at every levelJudges can be instrumental in facilitating the cooperation between social workers and lawyers
24cooperation and Collaboration (con’t) It is important to work with the Central Authority as soon as is warrantedNon-governmental organizations often have expertise on international child protection issues and can provide services and promote awarenessRegional collaboration on child protection issues can lead to improved outcomes for children on a much larger scale
25RecommendationsHow to achieve mutually supportive, sustainable international social work and legal cooperation
26Recommendations The child as the focus All of us are social analysts, social catalysts, and social activistsJoint consideration of policy and practiceAppropriate training and resourcesDialogue and knowledge-sharing between social workers, lawyers, and judgesCollaboration among stakeholdersUnderstanding the big picture
28Save the Date: ISS-USA Conference The focus of this conference will be on the need for cooperation among, and coordination between, the legal, judicial and social service partners in cross-border child protection. Key activities will include:Examining the push-pull factors that lead children to move across bordersIdentifying the existing, and needed, legal and social work frameworks required to resolve trans-national child protection issuesExploring what programs and systems are needed to protect children and families and how we can build the capacity of these systems to meet the growing needs of vulnerable children and families.November 3, :00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.Lohrfink Auditorium, Georgetown University Washington, DCFor more information or to Register:www. iss-usa.org