How We Select Children

What criteria are used to determine which children are registered in Compassion International's Child Sponsorship Program?

How Do We Choose Which Children to Register?

Our Program Field Manual, which guides how we operate, addresses how we choose the children who can be registered in our Child Sponsorship Program.

"Compassion desires to work with the neediest and most vulnerable children that it can reach . . . Therefore, it is vital to have a means by which to assess the relative poverty and vulnerability of different children in the community."

All registered children are selected based on objective criteria that establish their need and their ability to benefit from the program. No more than three children from the same family can be registered, though each country may choose to limit this to fewer children so they can help a larger number of families.

A group of Haitian children wearing red overalls and white and red striped shirts. One girl is dressed in yellow with bows in her hair.

When church staff members interview parents or caregivers in order to assess the poverty of the family and the child’s ability to benefit from the program, the staff members follow this criteria:

  • Is the child under the age of 10?
  • Is the family within the local poverty index?
  • Does the child have good access to the church? Generally, a child is considered to have "good access" when he or she lives within a 30-minute walk from the church.
  • Is there evidence that the child is likely to be non-transient and stable within the community?

We give a special priority to children who:

  • suffer from chronic illness and/or malnutrition.
  • are not otherwise able to attend school.
  • have the potential to progress in school.
  • are orphaned, abandoned or exploited.
  • are living with a single parent or caregiver.
  • have a physical or mental impairment.

We seek to register children from both Christian and non-Christian families who support participation in Christian activities. Our centers also try to have a gender balance with the children who are registered and a female preference when necessary.

These guidelines help ensure that a long-term relationship can be developed with each child registered in the program, which is key in the holistic development process.

What are the Benefits of Our Program?

A Colombian boy reads a book while sitting in the grass

Every child is given the opportunity to develop mentally, emotionally, spiritually, economically, socially and physically.

What Happens When a Child Leaves Our Program?

A female Colombian college student plays the violin.

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.

How Do Child Development Centers Operate?

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

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.