Child sponsorship No more than three children from the same family can be registered in our Child Sponsorship Program, though each country may choose to limit this to fewer children so they can help a larger number of families.

“There is so much need in Nicaragua that choosing a child becomes a real dilemma. Often we see children that don’t live near the center, struggling to be registered. Or families that want to register their children because of the situations in which they live, which are not necessarily economic needs. Or parents that think their children must be assisted just because they are church members … How to say no?”

— Mirna Alguera, Compassion Nicaragua Partnership Facilitator.

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

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 between the ages of 3 and 9?
  • How low is the family’s income and assets?
  • Does the child suffer from chronic illness and/or malnutrition?
  • Is the child able to attend school or progress in school?
  • Does the child have a physical or mental impairment?
  • Is the child an orphan? Has the child been abandoned or is the child being/at risk of being exploited?
  • 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?
  • Was the child part of our Child Survival Program (CSP)? Preference is given to CSP graduates who meet the other needs-based criteria.

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.

Angela is the mother of two boys and twin girls. All of them are the right age to be registered; however, she could only register three of them.

“As a mother, I felt bad because one of them could not be registered, but I had to accept that three of them would be registered and then find ways to provide for the other one.”

“Parents decide which of their children will be registered. I would like to register all the children but we have to accept reality (policies).” — Arelys, a secretary at Mimados de Jesus Student Center

Families usually say that although they have more children in the family, registering at least some is a great help for them. It’s a blessing from God they will not reject.

In Angela’s case, she and her husband have explained their decision to their little daughter who isn’t registered, and they have the other three share with her the gifts received from their sponsors to ease the fact that she’s not registered.

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15 Comments Add a Comment
  1. Amy Wallace
    Feb 2, 2010
    at 7:31 am

    I can’t imagine how hard it is to choose which children get registered! God already has them picked out ahead of time, though.

  2. jennifer
    Feb 2, 2010
    at 9:09 am

    Thank you for the clear explanation. This is something that I have thought a lot about. I really appreciate the break down. You guys are doing great work. I know the decision making must be very dificult for all involved. Thank you for being such good stewards of the money you receive.

  3. Nerissa Spannos
    Feb 2, 2010
    at 10:43 am

    I saw a post a while ago that suggested sponsors can send a gift to the family and under special instructions ask that it go to a gift for the unsponsored siblings

  4. Amy
    Feb 2, 2010
    at 2:11 pm

    That’s truly heartbreaking that one out of our children could be left out. I can’t imagine what would go through my head.

  5. Alli
    Feb 2, 2010
    at 11:34 pm

    Thank you for this clear explanation.

    This may not be the right spot, but I have a couple of similar “how does this work” questions that I’d love answers to. (I’ve searched the archives…)

    How and when do children learn that they are sponsored?

    I’ve read about “letter day”. I don’t know how often that is, but if I write more frequently are my letters “saved” to give my child on Letter Day? Or are they given as they are received/translated/processed?

    • Feb 3, 2010
      at 2:29 pm


      How and when do children learn that they are sponsored? That’s a good question. One that’s quite common and somehow has avoided becoming a blog post … until now. I’ll get someone to write on that subject.

      As far as the distribution of letters, our church partners do have some leeway on this; thus, there is the “letter day” idea, but mostly the letters are distributed as they are received. Vera Mensah-Bediako, our Ghana field communications specialist, wrote a good explanation of the letter writing process for her country. It should give you some more insight into how the process works.

  6. Amy
    Feb 3, 2010
    at 2:31 pm


    From what I can tell with my letters from three boys on three different continents, they ONLY get mail on letter days.

  7. Patricia
    Feb 3, 2010
    at 4:10 pm

    I was wondering if children who lost their sponsor get priority on getting re-sponsored? What if they are older kids?

    • Feb 4, 2010
      at 9:39 am


      We do everything we can to advocate for the older children and children with special needs; however, its the sponsors that make that life changing decision about who to sponsor. I do not know this for certain, but I personally anticipate that part of our relief / rebuilding efforts in Haiti will involve special awareness campaigns and sponsorship drives for the children, students and babies and caregivers who have been affected.

  8. jennifer
    Feb 4, 2010
    at 1:01 pm

    I was wondering if you could tell me how many children are allowed to be sponsored per family in Ecuador? My little girl is the only one (according to compassion rep) in her family of 9 children who is sponsored. That breaks my heart especially since they are living with grandparents. I’m going to get a famiy gift out to them soon, but I was just curious. I didn’t think to ask if any siblings were waiting to be sponsored.

  9. Feb 5, 2010
    at 10:25 am


    Generally, Ecuador will only register two children per family.

  10. leah cruz
    Apr 17, 2010
    at 9:20 pm

    i know it isnt realistic that all the children in a family can be sponsored- but if i had my way it would be so. one of my kids has 7 siblings! i pray that the lord provides for all of the little ones in different ways.

  11. Sep 24, 2010
    at 7:19 am

    If I can ask a question on this old thread…what about the teenagers on the site, waiting for sponsors? I recently chose a 19 year-old Indian girl. I love the idea of connecting with her over this year before she’s too old and sowing into her life as much as I can…and then choosing another older teenage girl, etc.

    But now I’m wondering if this means she was waiting for a sponsor for 10 years?

    • Sep 24, 2010
      at 7:55 am


      Most likely the girl you sponsored was sponsored by someone else who had to cancel the sponsorship for some reason. It’s possible that she had several sponsors during her time in the program.

      I think your plan of sponsoring older teenagers and sowing love as much as you can is fantastic. Many of these older teenagers go without sponsors for quite some time because most people want to sponsor a younger child or to sponsor a youth that will be in the program longer than a year.

  12. jennifer
    Sep 24, 2010
    at 7:54 am

    Hey Katie, no, it means that she was sponsored and then lost her sponsor. Really sad, I know… You can actually call Compassion and they’ll tell you how many sponsors she has had. The 11 year old I sponsored in May had 3 sponsors before me. It breaks my heart. Thank you for sponsoring your girl. You will develop such a great relationship. My mom has a boy in India and he writes in English! So much fun!

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