Thank you for trusting Compassion Canada to minster to your sponsored child through the care of a local church.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, we are empowering that local church to use your sponsorship donations to meet urgent and critical needs of families with children and youth registered in the program. Funds previously used at the child development centres can now be directed as needed to children and their families for necessities like food, clean water, shelter, clothing, household items, and even medical care and trauma counselling.

It has been crucial during this time to adapt how we minister to children in poverty together with our frontline church partners. The mission has not changed, but many of the methods have.

Below you can find answers to some frequently asked questions we’ve received about how Compassion and our field staff are operating during this crisis.

For more information on Compassion’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, including updates for each country where we work, please visit our COVID-19 updates page.

[Update as of August 18, 2020 at 1:47 p.m. EST]

Is my Compassion child affected by the COVID-19 virus?

This global pandemic has affected all of us in one way or another. Compassion’s staff and volunteers are doing everything they can to minimize the impact on the children in our program.

To that end, we have temporarily closed our child development centres in most of our field countries, suspended group activities, and limited contact to home visits for the delivery of medical supplies, hygiene kits, food, water, and other resources to help during this time of crisis. We’ve also suspended all international travel to our national offices and frontline church partners. This means we will not permit international visitors to meet sponsored children, visit Compassion child development centres, or visit national offices.

Compassion’s policy has always been to not disclose health information of children in our program. To learn more about how COVID-19 is impacting your sponsored child’s country, you can click here.

How are staff members engaging with sponsored children? Are they visiting homes?

In some cases where visits are permitted and staff do not put themselves or others in harm’s way to do so, local church staff members are visiting homes to check on the welfare of children and their families. When/where they cannot make personal home visits, staff are using cell phones, texting, WhatsApp and social media to conduct regular welfare checkups.

How is Compassion protecting children from the virus?

Compassion staff is taking every precaution to protect the children in our program. We have suspended all international travel to our national offices and our frontline church partners through the end of April. This means we will not be permitting any international visitors to meet sponsored children, visit Compassion child development centres, or visit national offices.

We will be reassessing our travel policy throughout the coming weeks and may extend this travel suspension depending on the situation. As a regular part of our ministry, we teach healthy hygiene practices to children in our program (and moms in our survival program), which reduces the spread of illness.

How are you using my sponsorship funds right now?

Funds previously used at the child development centres are now being used to provide children and their families with necessities, including food, clean water, shelter, clothing, household items, medical care and trauma counselling.

How is this different than how my donations were used before?

Previously, your sponsorship support funds were primarily used for church-based program activities to provide snacks and meals, medical care and opportunities to encourage the healthy development of all aspects of a child — spiritually, physically, socially, emotionally, and even economically. During this season when quarantines prevent public gatherings at the local church, your funds are being used to meet individual urgent and critical needs of the families of children registered in the program. This personalized approach continues our commitment to holistic child development by prioritizing unmet urgent needs during this COVID-19 pandemic. Some of these basic needs include household necessities like food, soap, detergent, hygiene kits and other tangible resources to care for and protect children and their families.

How is this funding different than the extra funding that I already provide?

When child sponsorship donations are used at the local church child development centre your money goes further. When those same funds are used to meet the needs of entire families, in addition to the registered children, the money doesn’t go as far. Right now, both your child support donations and extra donations are needed during this pandemic crisis.

Should I continue sending my monthly child support if my child’s centre is temporarily closed? How will that money be used?

Yes, please stand with us during this crisis by keeping up your monthly support. While the centre is temporarily closed to group activities, that does not mean all activities and expenses have stopped. Your sponsorship means more now than ever!

For what timeframe do you believe donations will be used in this way?

As long as the COVID-19 pandemic prevents public gatherings at the church, we plan to empower the local church with this home-based approach to provide a basic level of care and support and to meet critical needs.

Can I give to help protect children from COVID-19?

A pandemic like COVID-19 plus the challenges of poverty equals disaster. Health systems can get dangerously overwhelmed in the low-resource settings where we work. Our church partners around the world are heroically delivering essential care to children and their communities in the midst of this global crisis. You can help provide food, water, sanitation, medical and other support by giving toward Compassion Canada’s Disaster Relief Fund.

Does this mean that some beneficiaries will not receive anything during this time since we are focusing on urgent/critical needs?

That’s possible, but that is not our intention. We are trusting the local church to know the needs of the families, maintain good relationships with all families, and make critical decisions about the best use of donations to meet the most important critical needs.

Can I still send letters to my child? Will I receive any back?

During the temporary closure of most of our national offices and the pausing of group activities in most of our child development centres, the delivery of letters between children and sponsors will be delayed. We encourage you to continue to write letters of encouragement and prayers to your child, but please know that it will take longer for your letters to be delivered, and your child will likely not be able to write back until centres are reopened.

How are Christmas gifts affected by COVID-19?

Just as in previous years, every Compassion child will receive a Christmas gift of the same value, made possible by donations to our Christmas Gift Fund. As usual, these gifts will be distributed by Compassion’s local church partners who know each child and therefore are in the best position to determine the most appropriate gift for each child.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there may be changes to how gifts are distributed.

  • Where possible, our staff hopes to provide Christmas gifts the way they normally do. In this case, your donation will be used to buy a tangible, thoughtful gift and it will be given to the child you sponsor during a Christmas celebration at his or her child development centre.
  • In other countries and communities where COVID-19 quarantines are still being enforced, your gift will be given to your child directly and safely. For example, a staff member or volunteer may deliver the gift to your child’s home while wearing a mask and gloves.
  • For families facing critical needs, your gift may be delivered directly as cash. That way, your child’s caregivers can decide how best to use the money to provide for their family.

Regardless of how a child’s gift is distributed and whether it is used to buy a toy or goes to meet a critical need, they will know that they are loved and remembered in this season.

We also encourage you to write a Christmas message to your sponsored child(ren). Due to the pandemic, some letters may be delayed. However, please send your Christmas greeting by mid-October to give it the best chance of reaching the child you sponsor in time for Christmas.

At the end of a difficult year, your Christmas gifts and messages will mean so much to Compassion children and their families.

Will my birthday or family gift get to my child at this time?

When a birthday or family gift is given, Compassion’s normal process is to have a staff member consult with the family and then travel, purchase and deliver your gift. During this time, however, that process creates additional burdens and dangers for our field staff.

Because of that, we are now encouraging field staff to disburse monetary gifts to an appropriate, verified caregiver. This applies to family gifts and beneficiary gifts (including birthday and final gifts). Families may spend the gift on whatever they consider most important to meet family needs. The caregiver will be notified whether a gift has been designated as a beneficiary gift or family gift. The caregiver will decide the best use of the money, recognizing that sometimes purchasing food or paying rent is in the best interest of a child.

Thank-you letters will be delayed until children can safely return to their centres, however, photos will not be required to be fulfilled during the crisis.

Will I still get a thank you letter and photos during this temporary change in policy?

During this COVID-19 pandemic, we have extended grace to our frontline church partners on typical deadlines and requirements to ensure they can prioritize critical needs of the children and their families. When the frontline churches can resume letter processing, you will eventually receive a thank you letter with information about how your gift was used. Photos will not be required or provided during the crisis.

 

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Written by: Compassion Canada