How do you impact the lives of more than 2 million children in our world today? How do you ensure that impact lasts? What does it look like to release kids from poverty in Jesus’ name?

We’re so glad you asked. In fact, these questions dig into what we are most excited about at Compassion: holistic child development.

If there’s one thing we want you to know about Compassion’s ministry, it’s this:

Holistic child development is what makes Compassion’s ministry so effective in the many different contexts where children in poverty find themselves around the world.

From jungles in the Philippines and the rural townships in Uganda to the high altitudes of Peru and the coastal communities in Haiti, Compassion’s program effectively releases children from poverty in Jesus’ name all around the world. We are the world’s leading authority in holistic child development.

A little boy in red sits on the ground and plays with a red toy truck. A caretaker in pink sits behind him and smiles.

This model meets every child where they are and helps provide for their unique needs. However, it’s so much more than surface-level care—it’s the development of children in every area of life so they can live out their fullest potential.

This is why our model is so effective.

It’s the reason we can impact the lives of more than 2 million children today. It’s the reason why lives are changed and that there is an impact that lasts. And it’s why we will continue to help many more children thrive.

This is what it looks like to release children from poverty in Jesus’ name.

Holistic child development is paramount to Compassion’s ministry. When Canadians like you partner with us, we want you to be just as passionate and excited about it. After all, you are a part of it!

1. Where does Compassion’s holistic child development model come from?

2. What does holistic child development cover?

3. How is holistic child development delivered?

4. How can I help facilitate holistic child development for kids in poverty?

Where does Compassion’s holistic child development model come from?

A little boy sits on the ground with a notebook in his lap and a pencil in his hand.

Quick answer: Compassion’s holistic child development model is rooted in Scripture and integrated with a comprehensive interdisciplinary understanding of what a child needs to thrive.

Holistic child development is an interdisciplinary field that continues to evolve, drawing on research and insights from psychology, sociology, education, medicine and other related disciplines. The integration of various perspectives allows for a comprehensive understanding of a child’s development and the promotion of their overall well-being.

All these elements contribute to holistic child development, but to get to the heart of Compassion’s ministry model, you don’t need to look any further than our mission statement: Releasing children from poverty in Jesus’ name.

In Jesus’ name means in Jesus’ way. Ultimately, our holistic child development model is anchored in what Scripture reveals of Jesus’ life and ministry. In fact, Scripture reveals how Jesus Himself developed as a child.

Our model integrates this pattern with the complementary disciplines that speak to comprehensive well-being for children.

“Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.”

Luke 2:52

What does holistic child development cover?

A girl and boy sit at a table with green plates of food in front of them and smile.

Quick answer: Compassion’s holistic child development model addresses the cognitive, physical, spiritual and socio-emotional needs of the children we serve.

For children to develop fully into their potential and thrive, it’s imperative to meet their needs in a holistic—or comprehensive—way. A healthy child is growing cognitively, physically, spiritually and socioemotionally.

Certainly, there are acute concerns that should be addressed if they occur in a child’s life. This is why targeted response is part of a comprehensive child development program.

However the nature of holistic child development is that it is a long-term process. It is working with children through each stage of their lives to help them grow, learn and flourish. It requires that each child is personally known, loved and protected. This is why Compassion’s model has specific and measurable ways to check in with each child throughout their time in the program.

Here’s what holistic child development looks like:

  • Cognitive development cares for a child’s mind.

Cognitive development can look like ensuring children receive an education, supporting children through specialized training or encouraging them in their dreams.

  • Physical development cares for a child’s body.

Physical development can look like providing nourishing food, providing access to medical care or supporting menstrual health.

  • Socio-emotional development cares for a child’s heart.

Socio-emotional development can look like encouraging children in healthy friendships, supporting them through crisis or introducing them to special clubs and groups where their interests lie.

  • Spiritual development cares for a child’s soul.

Spiritual development can look like praying for a child in difficult times, teaching Bible stories or providing opportunities for them to encounter Jesus.

How is holistic child development delivered?

Four children run towards the camera with a church building in the background.

Quick answer: Compassion partners with the local church around the world to deliver our holistic child development program in a way that fits with each child’s context and community.

One of the signature aspects of Compassion’s program is that it is Church-driven. This means that the over 8,000 local churches that partner with Compassion actively engage in prioritizing and planning how best to serve children in their care through holistic child development.

Compassion works exclusively with local churches because they can best understand and respond to the challenges in their communities. They are known and trusted by their neighbours and reach those in the greatest need.

What’s more, the Church is the institution God ordained to carry out His work. Compassion exists to enable the Church to fulfill her mission of making disciples of all nations and caring for those in great need.

Ultimately, holistic child development is not effective if it is not delivered by those who are a trusted and faithful presence in the lives of children and families. The local church knows and loves its community and is able to implement our programs in a way that is contextualized, personal and long-term.

How can I help facilitate holistic child development for kids in poverty?

Four children sit on the ground smiling with letters in their hands.

Quick answer: You can help our church partners facilitate holistic child development for kids in poverty through child sponsorship and/or targeted response.

For children to gain the benefits of holistic child development, the local church must be resourced to meet their needs. This partnership happens in two ways: sponsorship and targeted response.

Child sponsorship

Sponsorship connects you with a child in a unique relationship that has an incredible impact. Through your monthly donation, you can help ensure children develop in all aspects of their lives. Every child in Compassion’s program receives all the benefits of holistic child development in a way that meets their unique needs in their unique context at their specific age. Not only that, but they connect to a community of people who help them thrive (including you!).

Sponsorship also includes a unique hands-on opportunity to connect through letter writing. The encouragement, wisdom and Bible verses you share with your Compassion child have a profound impact on them. It can spur them on in their education, encourage them in their faith, support them in their challenges and celebrate with them in their successes. These are all vital to their development.

Targeted Response

Sometimes a child’s development is impacted by specific needs in their family, community or Compassion centre. While sponsorship ensures that children receive holistic child development, targeted response is how we ensure there are no barriers to its efficacy.

Supporting specific needs is a vital contribution to holistic child development. There is a wide variety of ways to bring impact to children, communities and Compassion centres outside of a sponsorship relationship that helps children thrive today and into the future.

Indeed, both sponsorship and targeted response are essential to ensure children are released from poverty in Jesus’ name. The integration of these two ways of partnering with the local church allows for our program to remain agile, contemporary and relevant to the children we serve.

A young girl and boy stand in front of a hill and hug each other.

Compassion’s mission is to release children from poverty in Jesus’ name. Holistic child development is how we do that. Our program is rooted in biblical principles, supported by interdisciplinary research, delivered by the local church and facilitated by partnership.

It takes all of us to help children thrive.

Join the impact.

Help more kids thrive today.

Sponsor a child

Rebekah Malbrecht

Rebekah Malbrecht

Rebekah Malbrecht is a Content Specialist at Compassion Canada. She loves to wrestle with words, shape stories and document happiness. You're bound to find her where there are books, people and birthday cake.