Development and procedures of ISS

We go have to back to the beginning of the 1900s to discover the roots of the organization. At the YWCA (Young Women’s Christian Association) World Congress in 1914, just before the First World War broke out, the unfavourable circumstances, in which mostly female migrants found themselves, asked for special attention. At that time, some labour migration took place, mainly from Eastern Europe to continents overseas, such as North-America and Australia. The women concerned were often travelling to their husbands in the new land together with their children. The war broke out, which prevented further action and it was not until 1920 that YWCA was able to set up a commission that was ordered to start up investigations. In 1924, this resulted in the creation of International Migration Service. After the Second World War, in 1946, this name was changed in International Social Service.

The ISS network consists of the General Secretariat and of ISS departments and correspondents from more than a hundred countries, both in Europe and in other continents. ISS also plays a consultative role at the United Nations (Economic and Social Council) and the Council of Europe (Social Commission).

ISS’ General Secretariat is based in Geneva. From there, the international activities between the departments and correspondents are coordinated. The General Secretariat aims at finding the best equipped institutions for ISS activities around the world, maintaining a service provision network which is as complete as possible and which preferably consists of social workers. ISS employs social workers, educationalists, psychologists, internationally oriented lawyers and experienced translators. Go to Thanks to this network, ISS is able to help in 25,000 cases worldwide each year. A total number of about 150,000 people are involved in these cases.

The initiative for setting up the International Social Service Netherlands Foundation in 1955, in consultation with ISS’ Head Quarters (as the General Secretariat was called at that time) in Geneva, was taken by the then Dutch Association for Social Work. At that time, ISS was already represented in the Netherlands by a correspondence agency that was managed by the Social Council in Amsterdam.

The development of the activities showed that a need had arisen in the Netherlands for an independent ISS department. This is why ISS Netherlands was established on 13 June 1955. Today, its office is based in ’s-Hertogenbosch, in the national office of Stichting Ambulante Fiom. On 1 January 1999, the two institutions merged. The activities of ISS Netherlands are partly subsidized by the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sports. ISS Netherlands additionally charges a financial contribution depending on the nature and scope of the request and the country to which the request relates. We have made arrangements with the institutions that are funded by the Ministry of Justice, such as the Child Care and Protection Board, regarding the height of the costs for each request.

The ISS network does not only entail that requests to foreign ISS departments and ISS correspondents can be effected, but also that these departments and correspondents in turn can appeal to ISS Netherlands.