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December, 2006

Dear Friends,

As 2006 draws to a close, it is timely to reflect upon the accomplishments and challenges of the past year, provide you with an update on the recent developments and to wish you all a healthy and productive 2007.


At last year's WorldForum in Tallinn, Estonia, and the year earlier in Argentina, delegates to our General Assembly identified membership recruitment, retention and services as the key priority and challenge facing the IFCW in the future. In fact, a motion was tabled and passed to devote resources to study the issue and develop plans for addressing strategy into the future. Your Executive Committee heard that message clearly and is pleased to report our activity and progress on all fronts with these issues over the past 12 months. However; before going into that detail I just wanted to reflect upon some of our current accomplishments and welcome some of our new members.

This year we were delighted to welcome Richard Klarberg and the Council on Accreditation which is based in New York City; Brussels based Eurochild of which our current secretary, Catriona Williams is the president; I India and Mr. Prabkahar; Vicki Wagner and The National Network for Youth based in Washington D.C., Save the Orphan Children and Saroj Lamichhane from Nepal and CARF International-Canada and Daniel Stavert as new or recent members to the IFCW.

As well, significant strides have been made with new member recruitment and we anticipate a positive increase in numbers through recruitment efforts with organizations such as Covenant House and Community Living in Toronto, Canada; Pretoria Child Welfare Society and Child Welfare South Africa; SOS Children's Village from Finland; Paniamor from Costa Rica; Commulife and the Puerto Rican Family Institute from New York City; Living Waters Trust of India; and the Child Welfare League of America and The Children's Home Society of America.

As a membership based, international organization which for the past 17 years has dedicated itself to fostering cooperation and information exchange in the field of child welfare, many hands have helped to further the cause. To accomplish its goals, IFCW has always relied on the talents and resources of its membership..a situation that is as relevant today as it was in the beginning when the founding meeting occurred in Haikko, Finland in 1989. As Mauri Upanne and Eeva Kuuskoski from Finland, Rolando Quiros from Costa Rica and Alan Davis from the USA could attest, it was a team effort from the outset and a clear expression of commitment to a very important cause.

With modest dues to support its work throughout the years, IFCW has no 'built in' staff capacity or infrastructure. Rather, it relies on the talent, commitment, goodwill and resources of its executive committee and broader membership to get the job done. With that in mind, I want to pause at this point and acknowledge the outstanding leadership and contribution that a number of our members have provided:

  • Case in point, Alan Davis of the National Council on Child Abuse and Family Violence who has hosted, supported, developed and maintained the website for IFCW on a volunteer basis.
  • Similarly, Peter Hesse of Germany has represented IFCW in Geneva while Elba Montalvo of the Committee for Hispanic Children and Families has represented the IFCW at various committees and conferences at the United Nations in New York City.
  • Sharon Osborne of Children's Home Society of Washington has extended herself and her organization well beyond the call of duty as our treasurer par excellence; Catriona Williams of Children in Wales has provided a critical link to Europe and ongoing support and leadership as our secretary.

Of great significance over the past year is the contribution that Mauri Upanne and Maarit Kuikka from the Central Union of Child Welfare, Finland have made in stepping forward to take the lead responsibility for surveying our membership on key issues and challenges and seeking their advice. That information, which was collected and analyzed by staff in Finland earlier this year, has been invaluable in informing our current situation and future strategic directions.


85 members were surveyed through a combination of email and hard mail and in the end we received a response from 37% of those questioned which is not an overwhelming but a decent response rate of return. So what did you tell us?

In response to the questions for organizations as to why they originally became members of IFCW you spoke to:

•  the fact that members work with and represent all children of the world factored most prominently

•  IFCW's promotion of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child,

•  IFCW's sponsorship of the annual WorldForum and

•  its consultative status with the United Nations as the major motivation for belonging to IFCW.

When asked to evaluate IFCW membership benefits, the most valuable were determined as follows:

•  networking and professional relationship building;

•  exchange of best practice and access to CEO's and organizations worldwide;

•  liaison and consultative status with the United Nations; and,

•  an opportunity to participate in global advocacy were most important.

We asked our members what their three top priorities were going into the future and you identified:

•  networking and professional relationship building, exchange of information and best practice as the most important factors.

•  our annual WorldForum as the most valuable membership product,

•  followed by some of our communications and our website, in particular.


With the aforementioned information in hand, your executive committee carefully considered the current environment and following extensive discussion and debate arrived at 2 key strategic directions that were presented at our recent General Assembly meeting which was held in Vancouver, British Columbia on November 20, 2006 as follows:

•  Member Partnerships, Member Matching or the Twining of Members : This direction relates to a new membership initiative that would see the IFCW facilitating membership matches between those who practice and provide service in developing countries with those who do the same or similar things in developed countries. We believe that such arrangements would constitute a tangible and unique benefit to belonging to IFCW. We foresee that these member partnerships would provide the direct catalyst for a more immediate and practical exchange of information, research, knowledge, policy and best practice through relationship building, employee exchange, opportunities like joint fundraising and other initiatives limited only by the creativity of its participants.

•  Web Development : Turning to our second strategic priority, website revitalization and development are critical. Communicating at a global level has changed dramatically since IFCW began in 1989. The executive committee proposes to invest in upgrading and expanding our website to create more links and an in time chat room capacity for members through which requests, information, knowledge and resources can be shared on a more immediate basis - IFCW would provide the engine.

So in addition to our annual WorldForum as well as our continued presence at the United Nations in both Geneva and New York, we will focus new member partnerships and an expanded global web presence as the membership strategies to best serve and support our members through the next decade.


By all accounts, WorldForum2006, which was co-hosted with the Child Welfare League of Canada and the Canadian Provinces of Alberta and British Columbia was a great success. More than 1,000 delegates from all parts of Canada and many parts of the globe came together to address new trends, promising practices and innovative approaches to prevent and respond to child abuse and neglect. An outstanding job of organizing this event was accomplished by staff in British Columbia and the various keynote addresses and workshops were very well received.

One of the key accomplishments of this most recent WorldForum was the engagement and attendance of more than 20 delegates from developing nations through funding support that was made available by the Canadian International Development Agency. Most significant, were those relationships and partnerships that began and will continue to develop into the future. An impromptu session on building partnerships was key in establishing a foundation upon which we will build moving into next year's WorldForum2007 which is scheduled to take place August 21-24, 2007 in New Delhi, India. Similar efforts are underway to secure funding to support the attendance of those who do not have the financial resources to participate in future worldforums. The IFCW has already requested funding support from the Commonwealth Foundation and other avenues will be explored as well. For current and up to date information on this year's upcoming event please go to


As previously indicated, our annual meeting was held on November 20, 2006 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Nigel Fisher, Executive Director of UNICEF, Canada was our keynote speaker and did a great job of highlighting the merits of global partnerships in child welfare. Our business meeting and budget presentation were successfully completed and elections for the Executive Committee were also held. We honoured Alan Davis for continuing to provide leadership through the hosting of our website, and Catriona Williams and Mauri Upanne as they retired from their posts as secretary and vice president for IFCW.

The outcome of those elections has resulted in a strong and representative executive committee as follows:

Vice president - Eeva Kuukoski. Eeva is the Secretary General of the Mannerheim League for Child Welfare based in Helsinki, Finland.

Treasurer - Sharon Osborne. Sharon is the President and CEO of the Children's Home Society based in Seattle, Washington, USA.

Secretary - Elba Montalvo. Elba is the Executive Director of the Committee for Hispanic Children and Families based in New York City, USA.

Member at Large - T.K. Mathew. T.K. is the Chief Executive of Deepalaya based in New Delhi, India.

Member at Large - Niresh Ramklass. Niresh is the Chief Executive of Cape Town Child Welfare Society based in Cape Town, South Africa.

Member at Large - Ray Salvosa. Ray is the Executive Director of the Consuelo Foundation based in Manila, The Philippines.

Deputy President - Catriona Williams. Catriona is the Chief Executive of Children in Wales based in Cardiff, Wales.

Deputy President - Mauri Upanne. Mauri is the Executive Director of the Central Union for Child Welfare based in Helsinki, Finland.

Special Advisor - Rolando Qurios Fonseca was appointed but will not be able to serve due to his untimely death .

Finally, I will be continuing as your President for the second year of my term and I am the Chief Executive for Community Living Toronto, which is based in Toronto, Canada.

In addition to the foregoing it was agreed that Elba Montalvo would continue to represent IFCW at the United Nations in New York City and Catriona Williams of Wales and Maarit Kuikka of Finland have agreed to represent IFCW in Geneva for 2007.

When I stepped forward to take on the role of president last year in Estonia, I did so with the clear understanding that this would be a team effort. It has been just that and I would like to thank all of our members who have contributed to the work of IFCW throughout the past year. I look forward to their continued efforts throughout 2007.

Respectfully submitted,

Bruce Rivers


December 2006

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