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.