How Long Does My Child Sponsorship Last?

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.

37 Comments |Add a comment

  1. Marian June 12, 2016

    Hi I have a question that hopefully someone can answer for me but I wanted to sponsor a child and I according to the day I have to send my information through mail I missed the deadline can I still send it and be able to still sponsor the child or would it be too late?

    1. Emily Vanhoutan
      Emily Vanhoutan June 13, 2016

      Marian, thanks for your heart to support a child! Please call our office at (800) 336-7676 and we can see if this child already has another sponsor or if they’re still available for you. You can also email us the child’s ID number to and we can help you :).

  2. Cathy Heiser April 18, 2016

    Hello! I did have a question along the lines of the duration of my sponsorship. He just turned 22, and I was wondering when this particular support ceased (hopefully our communication with one another will not!)…

    1. Susan Sayler April 19, 2016

      Hi Cathy! Yusef should complete within 60 days of when his anticipated completion date. Please let us know if you have not heard from us that he completed by the end of May. Regrettably, once he officially completes the program, communication through Compassion needs to cease. We can help you connect with him directly once he completes the program if you would like. This option is discouraged by Compassion because it poses a security risk for you as a sponsor and translation services would no longer be provided. If you are interested in this option, we can give you some more information once he completes. We would also ask you to sign our waiver of liability before giving your personal contact information to Yusef.

  3. Carrie September 23, 2010

    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.

    1. Shaina September 23, 2010

      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.

  4. Allie B August 5, 2010

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

    1. Shaina August 9, 2010

      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.

  5. Barbara July 5, 2010

    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.

    1. Shaina July 6, 2010

      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.

  6. Aaron Armstrong July 1, 2010

    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:

  7. Michelle June 29, 2010

    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…. 🙂

    1. Shaina June 30, 2010

      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.

  8. Amy Wallace June 29, 2010

    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.

  9. Stephen Gallion June 28, 2010

    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.

  10. Judy June 28, 2010

    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?

    1. Andrea July 5, 2010

      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.

    2. Shaina June 28, 2010

      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.

  11. Brett June 28, 2010

    “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?

  12. Teri June 25, 2010

    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.

  13. Crystlgib June 24, 2010

    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.

  14. Cheryl June 24, 2010

    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.

    1. Shaina June 25, 2010

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

  15. Cheryl June 24, 2010

    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?

  16. Lisa June 24, 2010

    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.

  17. Dee Dee June 24, 2010

    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?

    1. Shaina June 24, 2010

      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.

  18. Jen June 24, 2010

    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!

    1. Chris Giovagnoni June 24, 2010

      This blog post, What Happens When a Child Leaves Our Sponsorship Program?, talks about how to stay in contact afterward.

    2. Shaina June 24, 2010

      You can request a waiver to continue corresponding with your sponsored child once they complete the program. Simply contact us once you receive notifcation of their completion.

  19. annabelle June 24, 2010

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

  20. jennifer June 24, 2010

    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!!

  21. Debbie T. June 24, 2010

    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.

  22. Judith Tremblay June 24, 2010

    “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.

    1. Shaina June 24, 2010

      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.

      1. Judith Tremblay June 25, 2010

        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. Chris Giovagnoni June 24, 2010

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

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