Project Overview

An overview of Compassion International's reasons for using a church-based plan for child development.

How Do Child Development Centers Operate?

We have partnerships with thousands of local churches in the developing world. Implementing our programs through church-based child development centers is one of several distinct features of how we work.

A Ugandan pastor kneels on the ground and talks to the mothers and children sitting in the grass outside a church.

Our church-based child development centers represent a long-term, holistic development commitment to fighting extreme poverty.

A holistic development approach

Our approach to child development is dynamic, individualized, personal and relational. And our decision to partner with local churches is a strategic one.

We believe local congregations are catalysts for community change and optimize the mutual respect, resources and common purpose critical in caring for children.

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.

Students sit at wooden desks in a Haitian classroom.

Because we understand that children grow in the context of their families, we also give weight to caring for parental needs. The parents' well-being directly relates to the welfare of their children.

Local control

Once a center is up and running, it's staffed by people in the local community. It starts with a center committee, a director, a secretary/treasurer and several tutors. More people are added as the center grows.

To ensure that the program's local application is effective and funds are used appropriately and wisely, we audit each center a minimum of once every 30 months, and our country staff visit each child development center a minimum of three times per year.

We provide curriculum support to the development centers, but the churches contextualize the interventions they provide to the children they serve.

Outcome driven

Our success in releasing children from poverty is outcome driven. These outcomes serve as a measuring stick for progress and growth rather than hard and fast completion requirements to graduate from the program.

We’re successful when the children in our Child Sponsorship Program commit their lives to Christ, choose good health practices, are physically healthy, are motivated to learn new skills, demonstrate the skills to support themselves in the future and interact with others in healthy and compassionate ways.

A group of Kenyan play on a swing set.

We’re also successful when our church partners demonstrate effective vision and leadership and take ownership of their vision by establishing efficient structures, practices and management to achieve their goals.

How Does Our Partnership With Local Churches Really Work?

A Ugandan pastor holding a Bible preaches to a group of children.

We depend on the local church in the communities we work in to carry out our programs. We provide the church with finances, guidance and accountability in order to make their programs a success.

Opening a Child Development Center

A Filipino pastor sits in the middle of a group of students.

The churches we partner with must meet a few requirements to be considered for a child development center. They must be part of an evangelical denomination, have a children’s ministry, have good church facilities to host children and have personnel to teach and care for the children.

How Do We Preserve the Integrity of Our Programs?

A woman office worker in Honduras sitting at a desk and looking at a report.

In addition to annual external audits, internal auditing, both in the development centers and country offices, is designed to determine how well our operations are running and to identify weaknesses that are causing goals and objectives to go unmet.

How Do We Teach the Children in Our Programs?

A Kenyan mother and her son standing in front of a wall pointing to a poster that says I am Compassion.

We have created a global curriculum to help develop children holistically—physically, spiritually, cognitively and socio-emotionally. It is designed to be nonacademic, similar to an after-school enrichment program.

Sponsor a Child