Child sponsorship Sponsors often contact us by phone and e-mail to find out when their children will complete the child sponsorship program. The contact usually occurs around a child’s 18th birthday. After all, an 18-year-old in the United States is viewed as an adult and is legally released from a parent’s care on that magical birthday. So it’s understandable when sponsors assume the same standard applies to their sponsored children.

Although age is a determining factor in a child’s completion, we do not finalize a completion just for that reason. Our completion guidelines include consideration of our goals for each  child and the goals each has personally set.

Our goals for the children in our program include:

  • Follow Jesus Christ in faith and deed as part of their spiritual training.
  • Support themselves and share with others in need as part of their economic training.
  • Be responsible members of their family, church, community and nation as part of their social training.
  • Maintain their own physical well-being.

To ensure that the child reaches these goals, we use “indicators” or guidelines to determine the child’s spiritual, physical, socio-emotional and cognitive development. Some examples are: the child knows and understands the Bible, follows Jesus, experiences better health, completes a primary education (at a minimum), shows good relational skills, and learns and uses an income-generating skill.

These indicators help the child development center staff identify which goals children have completed and which they need to work on. It also gives all centers unified evaluation criteria so that every child receives the same opportunities (or so that all children are held equally accountable).

In some instances, age can prevent a child from completing a goal.

For example, a young Rwandan woman, age 21, decides she would like to learn how to be a seamstress. The center she attends has a vocational course that teaches this skill, but she must complete the course before her 23rd birthday or risk not finishing it. This is because the maximum program participation age for Rwanda is 22 years old.

When children in our program turn 12, they create a “My Plan for Tomorrow” folder with the help of the center staff. The child sets yearly goals in this folder. At the end of each year the children evaluate their achievements with the staff.

Each child’s goals are different, according to what that child wants to accomplish. But remember, these are just goals. There are no repercussions if the child does not reach them. The main purpose of the goal-setting is to help the children dream. And the folder helps give them a plan to achieve their dreams.

Brett, a representative in Compassion’s contact center, made a video of a child’s folder during his trip to Haiti last fall. Watch with caution — it is very shaky and not made for the easily queasy.

You can also view this child sponsorship video on YouTube.

The center staff determines a child’s completion date by reviewing the goals set for the child, the goals the child has set for themselves, and the maximum age that the child can stay in the program. The maximum age depends on the country, and is typically between the ages of 18 and 22.

A child may continue to participate in our sponsorship program if he or she still needs time to reach a personal or programmatic goal as long as the maximum participation age for the program hasn’t been reached yet.

Although we would love for every child to complete our program, regrettably, some children aren’t able to. The most common cause of this is that their family relocates to an area where we do not have a child development center. (For more information on why children leave our program, please read Why Do Children Leave Our Program?

If you are interested in knowing when your sponsored child is expected to complete our program, and your child is older than 13, log in to your account at, click “My Sponsorships,” and then scroll down to view the “Child Information” tab. Your child’s completion date will be noted there.

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35 Comments Add a Comment
  1. Jun 24, 2010
    at 6:17 am

    “Our goals for the children in our program include:

    •Follow Jesus Christ in faith and deed as part of their spiritual training.”

    What are the chances that a child chooses to follow the religion of their family/culture/country rather than Christianity, even after 10+ years of Christian training? I know that the families know they will be taught about Jesus, and have to agree to that before a child can be registered, but I was under the impression that they were not required (encouraged, yes) to become Christian in order to continue receiving services. Maybe I misunderstood the statement and it’s still a goal–we wish that for all the childen–but like their own personal goals for themselves, there comes a point where all we can do is pray for them and let the Holy Spirit work in His own timing.

    • Jun 24, 2010
      at 8:37 am

      They are not required to become Christians. But it is a desire and a prayer of ours.

    • Shaina
      Jun 24, 2010
      at 8:54 am

      Judith, This goal does not have to be met for a child to complete our program. Although it is our deep desire to see every child come to know Jesus, we realize that not every one will make that decision. It also does not determine their stay in the program- whether or not they choose to follow Jesus, they are welcome in the program. This is listed as one of our goals for every child because Jesus is central to everything we do.

      • Jun 25, 2010
        at 7:19 am

        Thanks for the clarification. :) I figured it was meant more in the true sense of “goal”, as in “we’d like for this to happen”, rather than “requirement” for completion.

  2. Debbie T.
    Jun 24, 2010
    at 8:04 am

    It’s great to know that each child is so well documented. I have had a few kids not reach the graduation age, but I was given whatever information the office had, and all the attempts to get the child to continue. it’s great to know they care about each child.

  3. jennifer
    Jun 24, 2010
    at 8:08 am

    I appreciate this blog. Although I knew bits and pieces of all of this, it was really helpful to see it laid out so clearly. I’ll be watching the video when I get a minute!!

  4. Jun 24, 2010
    at 8:38 am

    so helpful! i was wondering since my kid is 20, and i saw that his completion date is a week before he turns 22.

  5. Jen
    Jun 24, 2010
    at 10:22 am

    when they graduate the program is there a way to keep in touch with them after? I would like to know how my kids are throughout their adult lives too. I know you don’t recommend personal information sharing while they are in the program, but would it be appropriate at that point?
    Thanks for your posts and information – very helpful!

  6. Dee Dee
    Jun 24, 2010
    at 1:07 pm

    This was very good information, especially good to know what was kept in the childs folder and how through the record keeping is of the childs progress in the program. Is it approproiate to ask a child about there goal folder since our girl in Mexico will turn 12 this year in July?

    • Shaina
      Jun 24, 2010
      at 2:45 pm

      It would definitely be appropriate to ask about their folder in your letters. It will give your sponsored child an opening to think and write about their goals and dreams for the future.

  7. Jun 24, 2010
    at 7:11 pm

    Super-great information! Possibly my favorite post ever. I LOVE this filing system. It’s so organized and thorough.

    I’m going to use the goal folder idea w/my daughter for homeschool.

  8. Cheryl
    Jun 24, 2010
    at 8:47 pm

    I know the completion date used to be on the child’s information but when I checked this morning, it looked like it was no longer there. Has this changed?

  9. Cheryl
    Jun 24, 2010
    at 9:01 pm

    I looked through all my kids. Only a few have completion dates. Do they wait until a child is a certain age before filling in that information? It doesn’t seem to be affected by country. Although I do have a couple younger children that have completion dates and children older than them that do not.

    • Shaina
      Jun 25, 2010
      at 8:21 am

      The child will not have a completion date listed until their information is updated after their 13th birthday.

  10. Crystlgib
    Jun 24, 2010
    at 9:55 pm

    As a sponsor, I think it would be useful to receive the highlights of our children’s plans for the future. It would be nice to have specifics for which to send encouragement and about which to pray for our children. I always just get generic “please pray for my education” request and have not heard of updated goals since they first started the program. For instance, on a sponsor tour to Ethiopia, I learned one of my girls had attended a field trip to a university and decided she wanted to become a scientist. Great news! She had never mentioned this goal in any letters before or since my visit. Perhaps she worries she will disappointment me if her plans change or she does not achieve this goal. I leave it to the wisdom of the field staff.

  11. Jun 25, 2010
    at 4:37 pm

    I would LOVE to see my sponsor kids “Plan for Tomorrow” info!! What a perfect way to know how to encourage them or offer advice.

  12. […] healthy completion plan called “My Plan For Tomorrow” was begun for all sponsored children at the age of twelve.  This helps them to plan for […]

  13. Brett
    Jun 28, 2010
    at 7:57 am

    “Watch with caution — it is very shaky and not made for the easily queasy.”
    Well come on now, it wasn’t THAT bad of a video was it?

  14. Jun 28, 2010
    at 3:45 pm

    My child Musabende Violette turned 18 last May. She does write to me, but the information I have gotten is scant. I would like to know what are her plans and if she is continuing with the Compassion program to learn a trade or What? She mentioned that she was taking exams to go to the level of S3. I have no idea of what this is and would like to find out as I am considering no longer sending money for support unless Musabende is continuing to go to classes. How can I learn what is going on?

    • Shaina
      Jun 28, 2010
      at 5:30 pm

      The best way to find out the answer to your questions is to ask in your next letter to her. Seperate your questions from the body of your letter; number, and highlight them so they stick out to her and the project workers. Also, write her every time you receive a letter from her. This helps your “conversations” flow. I believe you will see a improvement in correspondence with these tips.

    • Andrea
      Jul 5, 2010
      at 10:47 am

      I’m not sure which country Musabende is from but most of these countries have a school system where you don’t graduate at 18. Many of their school systems don’t start until 7 or 8, and many of the CI children can’t afford school tuition until they become CI children so they might have gotten a late start. It sounds to me like S3 would be their next level of schooling. You could also try and look up that country’s school system online. But if you want more details I would call the Compassion office or email a request for more info to them.

  15. Jun 28, 2010
    at 7:27 pm

    I have been sponsoring my child who is in El Salvador for about 3 years. I can’t seem to get him to talk about anything but his family, his favorite sport and other things that he keeps repeating over and over again in each letter. How can I get him to talk about other things or at least answer some of the questions I ask.

  16. Amy Wallace
    Jun 29, 2010
    at 5:38 am

    It’s a bittersweet thought to think of my children finishing the program. I want to see them accomplish this great achievement, but I don’t want to think of a time when I won’t be sponsoring them. I have a while to prepare myself, though – my oldest is 13.

  17. Michelle
    Jun 29, 2010
    at 6:53 pm

    Wow!!! I am really, really impressed!!! I would love to see my little girl’s file…. But then again? She deserves some privacy!! lol I would love to know her grades though,…..

    I was wondering: The form for the gifts. Is it just for the cash gifts we send? Or do they mark down every little thing we send through the mail like coloring books and bookmarks? Does Compassion keep track of what the sponsors send anywhere? Or just the dates when correspondence goes out?

    This folder just exemplifies that the program DOES use the money we send wisely and keeps track of our children. Gotta love Compassion…. :)

    • Shaina
      Jun 30, 2010
      at 10:12 am

      The folder normally only contains information on monetary gifts. Some projects keep track of other (paper) gifts you send, and some don’t. It really depends on the country and project.

  18. Jul 1, 2010
    at 9:24 pm

    Great information, Shaina. “My Plan for Tomorrow” is one of the most helpful resources the program offers. The other day I got to see the book that belongs to a teenager from Honduras. You can read a bit more about it here:

  19. Barbara
    Jul 5, 2010
    at 7:02 am

    My first child just ”’graduated” from Compassion in June, after sponsoring her for 10 years. I would like to know if it is too late to know what she is doing for further education, etc. I am starting again with another child, but she is only 12 so it is too early to know where she will go and the plans for her.

    • Shaina
      Jul 6, 2010
      at 9:35 am

      We would be happy to provide all of the details we have about your child’s completion from the program. Please contact us at (800) 336-7676.

  20. Allie B
    Aug 5, 2010
    at 8:37 pm

    Can you still write to your child after they are finished with compassion?

    • Shaina
      Aug 9, 2010
      at 10:59 am

      Compassion does allow sponsors to continue writing their child once the child has left our program. If you still wish to correspond with your sponsored child after they leave the program, we will send you a waiver form and more detailed information about this process. The waiver releases Compassion from all liability, and we will no longer be involved in the letter or gift process.

      If you sign and return the waiver, we will then send your contact information to our office in your child’s country, and the staff will give the information to the child if they are able to locate them. If the child is able to write to you, the correspondence will continue directly between the two of you. Because the correspondence is no longer through Compassion, any translation needed will be your responsibility.

  21. Sep 23, 2010
    at 1:09 pm

    I’m curious as to why my child’s completion date isn’t listed? He is nearly 14 now and the information was last updated after he turned 13.

    • Shaina
      Sep 23, 2010
      at 2:19 pm

      Without reviewing his file, I can’t give specific information. However, if you would like to call (800-336-7676) or email (, we’d be happy to review it with you.

  22. […] their goals and have an action plan. Therefore, the student center uses an important tool called My Plan for Tomorrow, a blueprint of goals in every area of life, with specific actions to take planned by the […]

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