COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – January 26, 2021 – Compassion International has achieved Level One Certification from Keeping Children Safe (KCS), an internationally recognized child safeguarding organization.
According to the certification announcement from KCS, “Compassion has established a sound and robust framework for keeping children safe, as identified through a self-assessment, external review of key documents and interviews with key personnel. The framework identifies child safeguarding risks and describes the steps Compassion has taken to ensure that minimum child safeguarding measures are in place.”
While many organizations engage in training or a form of certification after they’ve been found negligent or encountered child protection incidents, Compassion voluntarily entered the certification process, inviting experts to evaluate their work and give recommendations for improvements.
The KCS process took Compassion’s child protection team 18 months to complete and included a self-audit by each of Compassion’s 25 national offices. The team pored over more than 400 documents and conducted 68 individual interviews, including Compassion staff whose roles and responsibilities were not specific to child protection, to understand whether child protection was embedded across all departments and countries.
According to the KCS evaluation, Compassion exceeded certification requirements.
“Achieving this level of certification is an important milestone for us,” said Compassion’s senior child protection advisor Megan Kelly. “We are thrilled to have this validation and the opportunity to continue to implement systems and best practices to keep children safe.”
The KCS standards represent the gold standard in the NGO sector, and they have been adopted by the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID), the United Kingdom’s Charity Commission, and acknowledged by the UN. Paul Sergio Pinheiro, the independent expert for the UN study on violence against children, said of the standards: “They offer an excellent opportunity, not only for the improvement of the quality and professionalism of those working with children, but most importantly, [they] will help to achieve a greater impact for children.”
However, as valuable as the standards are, Sarah Byrd, Compassion’s child protection advisor and project lead for certification efforts, believes continuous learning is just as important, if not more important, than achieving certification. “Inviting others in to observe our processes provides new ideas and needed perspective so we can continue to improve our efforts to make sure children are safe and empowered.”
Compassion's global child protection team will continue to collaborate with regional and national leadership this year as they determine how recommendations provided by KCS will be incorporated into existing child protection strategies and implemented for the benefit of children around the world.
KCS is a London-based independent not-for-profit which establishes internationally recognized child safeguarding standards that ensure all organizations working directly for and with children have comprehensive safeguarding measures in place. Their independence means their standards and advice are not influenced by any other organization or government and are recognized by the UK’s Department For International Development (DFID), the European Commission (EC), USAID, and the UN, and enable organizations of all types and sizes to implement rigorous policies, processes and audits that protect children from abuse. Along with certification, KCS provides recommendations for continued improvement and opportunities for learning and growth.