The role of social work in international child protection: best practices in stakeholder cooperation

  • Julie Gilbert Rosicky University of Oregon
  • Felicity Sackville Northcott Johns Hopkins University
Palabras clave: Child protection, cross border, children on the move, unaccompanied minors, intersection of social work, law and migration, international child protection treaties, conventions, best interest of the child, rights of the child, child welfare, northern triangle, U.S., Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, social work capacity, strategies for cooperation, collaboration, social workers, judicial, legal, international social work.


The focus of this paper will be the intersection of law, policy implementation, and social work in child protection, specifically child protection involving children who are separated by an international border from their families. 

We will pay particular attention to international treaties, compacts, and conventions on the one hand, and the need to increase the capacity of social workers in the Americas to manage complex international child welfare cases in accordance with these laws and policies, on the other. The growing number of children migrants travelling between countries unaccompanied are of special concern to social work agencies operating within the Northern Triangle and the United States.

The first section of this paper will provide an overview of the role of social work in child protection, specifically focusing on how the practice of social work centers on protecting the best interests of the child and how social work intersects with legal and judicial partners in protecting children on the move. Next, the role of social workers when implementing relevant domestic and international conventions, laws, and treaties will be examined. The third section of this paper will explore the crucial importance of building the capacity of social workers to protect children on the move on both sides of the border. We will promote several key strategies for building cooperation and collaboration between social workers and legal and judicial partners in the fourth section. The final section of this paper will detail specific recommendations for mutually supportive and sustainable international social work and legal cooperation. 

Biografía del autor/a

Julie Gilbert Rosicky, University of Oregon

B.A., Psychology, Honors Cum Laude, University of Colorado, Boulder; M.S., Developmental Psychology, University of Oregon, Eugene, 1993, with a Certificate of Excellence in Non Profit Leadership and Management, University of Wisconsin School of Human Ecology, the University of Wisconsin-Extension, and the Learning Institute of Nonprofit Organizations, 2001. She was Director of Multiculrual Services, ay Mohawk Valley Rescoricer Center for Refugees. Utica N.Y and Project Director of Helping Outreach Progmras to Expand II in Maryland Crime Victim´s Resources Center, Inc; Currently she is working as the Executive Director, International Social Service, United States of America Branch, Inc. (ISS-USA) Baltimore, MD. Responsible for the oversight of the American Branch of an international non-profit organization (ISS) with headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland and more than 100 members around the globe. Author of several articles and presentations related to the legal and social work to children adults an families separated by international borders. 

Felicity Sackville Northcott, Johns Hopkins University

B.A. in Women´s Studies at Goucher College. Summa Cum Laude, with Honor’s in Women’s Studies; M.A (1991) and Ph. D. (1996) Johns Hopkins University. Department of Anthropology, with the Dissertation: “Acting in a Manner Not Usual for Law. Abiding Citizens: Constructing Homelessness in Baltimore.”
She served as Director of the Arthur C. Helton Institute for the Study of International Social Service - International Social Service-United States of America Branch; Liaison to the Dean for Programs and Centers of the Johns Hopkins University and Associate Director, of The Institute for Global Studies in Culture, Power and History, at Johns Hopkins University. Currently she is working as Director of External Partnerships and International Services. International Social Service-United States of America Branch Baltimore, Maryland.
In her performance in teaching and training experience we can mention the International Family Finding and Engagement: Legal and Social Work Guidelines: Richmond, VA. Virginia Family Finding Roundtable.;ISS and Unaccompanied Minors: Training for Correspondents, Melbourne, Australia; Capacity Building and Best Practices in Case Management: Training for Correspondents, Melbourne, Australia; and Training for Pro Bono Attorneys: USCCB Child Advocates’ Program, Washington, DC. Investigator and author of several articles and presentations related to supportig corss-border families, children in foster care and abducted children.