What happens when a child graduates or leaves the Compassion International sponsorship program?

What Happens When a Child Leaves Our Program?
Finishing well

Children typically graduate from our sponsorship program between the ages of 18 and 22. It varies by country. Although age is a determining factor in a child’s completion, we do not finalize a completion just for that reason.

A group of Tanzanian students sits outside while the the teacher stands in front of the group, next to a blackboard.

Our completion guidelines include consideration of our goals for each child and the goals each child has personally set.

Our goals include:

  • Follow Jesus Christ in faith and deed as part of their spiritual training.
  • Support themselves and share with others in need as part of their economic training.
  • Be responsible members of their family, church, community and nation as part of their social training.
  • Maintain their own physical well-being.

To ensure that the child reaches these goals, we use "indicators" or guidelines to determine the child’s spiritual, physical, socio-emotional and cognitive development. Some examples are:

  • knowing and understanding the Bible
  • following Jesus
  • experiencing better health
  • completing a primary education (at a minimum)
  • showing good relational skills
  • learning and using an income-generating skill

These indicators help the child development center staff identify which goals children have completed and which they need to work on. It also gives all centers unified evaluation criteria so that every child receives the same opportunities (or so that all children are held equally accountable).

A child may continue to participate in our sponsorship program if he or she still needs time to reach a personal or programmatic goal as long as he or she hasn't reached the maximum participation age.

Why do children leave the Child Sponsorship Program early?

Although we would love for every child to complete our program, regrettably, some children children leave the program early.

Of all of the children in our sponsorship program, 6.3 percent of them left the program in 2014. On average, the children who leave our program are in the program for a total of 8.8 years.

Sometimes children leave because their family’s financial situation has improved and our assistance is no longer needed, or the parents decide, for varying reasons, that they no longer want their child in the program.

Often we see a child leave because the child needs to be at home to take care of a younger sibling while the parents or guardians work, or the child has to begin working to help support the family.

A young Honduran girl in a white and blue uniform leaves her house.

The most common reason is the family has moved to a place where we do not have a child development center.

Occasionally, a child development center closes and there isn't another center nearby that the children can transfer to.

Can I stay in contact with my child if he or she graduates or leaves the Child Sponsorship Program?

If you tell us you want to continue writing to your child, we’ll send you information to read, sign and return to us.

The form we send will describe what your new relationship will look like and will give us permission to share your contact information with our country staff, who will then share it with your child. If your child wants to keep in touch with you also, he or she will send you a letter or an e-mail to begin the conversation.

Children writing letters

The main thing to keep in mind is that translation services no longer will be provided —something to consider if you do not speak the child’s language.

Also, since the child will be out of our program, we cannot make any guarantees about the regularity or quality of the correspondence. Plus, we won’t be able to help with questions that may arise.

And finally, it’s important to know that sharing your information means you could potentially be contacted by others, such as your child’s relatives, friends or acquaintances who might want to contact you for personal gain.

How Do We Choose Which Children to Register?

Four Ugandan children are sitting and eating underneath a mural of Jesus

We desire to work with the neediest and most vulnerable children that we can reach . . . Therefore, we must have a means by which to assess the relative poverty and vulnerability of different children in the community.

How Do Child Development Centers Operate?

Haitian children playing in front of a church

The church's role in developing the children we serve includes responsibility for the day-to-day application and administration of activities and programs. The church essentially "owns" the local child development center.