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 compassion.com, click “My Sponsorships,” and then scroll down to view the “Child Information” tab. Your child’s completion date will be noted there.