General Secretariat

Protecting Children and Uniting Families Across Borders for 98 years

Intercountry Casework

Cross-border services

ISS Members support individuals having difficulties of a social and legal nature as a consequence of international migration or displacement.

Since its creation in 1924, the organisation has acquired a strong expertise in assisting and counseling minors and families facing complex situations with an international character. Its local constituents across the world enables the organisation to draw together all parts of a problem, thus providing a better overview of all the options available to the individuals and families involved in order for them make the most appropriate and informed choices. Its large network also ensures that it has the capacity to provide coordinated international assistance by establishing a link between social services in different countries and providing them with accurate and comprehensive information to enable them to propose the best solution for all protagonists involved, and more specifically for children, in respect of the best interest principle. Furthermore, the cross-cultural dimension of ISS enables the organisation to understand and interpret diverse international, regional and national regulations, systems, cultures and customs.

Furthermore, the ISS network worldwide focus on protecting the rights of children in transnational legal and social disputes. As our main goal is the well-being of children, we always try to resolve transnational and multicultural family disputes with the help of a variety of experts from different disciplines, and by following the guidelines set by the Convention on the Rights of the Child of 1989.


Girish was 16 years old and had travelled by airplane from his home country in Asia to Pakistan, he was then hidden in a truck which took him through Iran, Turkey and Europe. He finally arrived in France without any papers or adult support and he asked for help from the local police.

Girish was placed in an adolescent home where his carers found he related very positively to his peers and his educators. He learnt French quickly and attended classes in other subjects. He hoped eventually to follow an apprenticeship. ISS was asked to help the boy re-establish contact with his family and to provide a report on their circumstances and their wishes for the future care of their son. The ISS Correspondent located the family in a very rural area which was a 3 hours journey from the capital. The comprehensive social report provided explained that the family were illiterate and were facing a severe financial crisis. The father was disabled and tried to make a basic living selling goods for recycling. The mother was very anxious about Girish and had been praying for his welfare. There were 3 other children. The family had a small house but had sold all their land to pay for Girish’s travel to Europe, they could no longer grow crops to feed themselves. The father had always hoped his son would travel to a richer country either in Asia or Europe to have a chance for a better future. He met a man who told him he could help his son travel to France. The ISS partner explained that the man was part of a smuggling gang who exploited the difficult situations of poor and uneducated families. The parents explained that they love their son very much and miss him but they hope he can remain in Europe to be educated. Girish now has regular telephone contact with his parents and, although he remains in France, his future is still undecided.


Jolana was born in the Czech Republic to a Czech mother and Maltese father. When she was 2 years old the family relocated to Malta. During this period the father became ill and was diagnosed with schizophrenia, he was hospitalised several times and needed to take daily medication. Four years later the parents separated and the mother returned to her home country leaving Jolana with her father.

After some time the mother filed for divorce and ISS was asked to help in providing a report on the living situation of Jolana in Malta to enable the Czech authorities to address the custody and visiting rights for the child. The report from ISS Malta colleagues provided information on the social and economic environment of Jolana and her paternal family. The father was supported in the care of his daughter by the grandmother and aunt. Father and daughter shared a close relationship and the child did not want to leave the father. The mother had not maintained contact with Jolana since leaving although the family confirmed they had no objection to the mother telephoning or to visits being arranged. Indeed they were unhappy that the mother did not keep in touch. The comprehensive report enabled the Czech authorities to decide that Jolana should remain with her father and extended family and they decided to ask the mother to request any visiting rights through the Courts in Malta. ISS then asked for the further assistance of the Czech partner in order to contact the mother and counsel her, pending any legal proceedings about access, on the importance of remaining in touch with her daughter even though they had to live separately.

ISS members work together

All ISS members work together for the welfare of children and their family. They share a common expertise in international social work and as such are able to provide efficient intercountry casework services in their country and across borders.

Jean Ayoub
Secretary General

Together with ISS

L’ensemble des organisations membres du SSI travaillent main dans la main pour assurer le bien être des enfants et de leur famille. Elles ont en commun une forte expérience dans le travail social aussi bien au niveau national qu’international, ce qui leur permet de pouvoir mener à bien toutes les activités de soutien social individuel.

Jean Ayoub
Secretary General

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