Overseas Child Sponsorship Announces Changes

By: Dan Childs

Contributors to The Salvation Army’s Overseas Child Sponsorship program have over the years become accustomed to their support going to an individual child. That financial support helps ensure the child receives the best possible shelter, health care and education. Beginning in June 2018, however, sponsorship contributions will be directed to a specific school, center or children’s home and allocated to projects and communities that are most in need.

Heather Myers, the territorial director for Overseas Child Sponsorship, said the change in how contributions will be routed is being made to channel funds to where they are needed most. In the past, sponsorships have helped support individual children in a school, children’s home, feeding program or other Army program. The result of the change is that sponsors’ money will now be directed to the program rather than an individual child. “The child who is being sponsored will still benefit,” Myers said, “but the other children in a home will benefit as well.”

In the past, because some children were sponsored while others were not, a certain amount of disparity existed from child to child as to the resources available to them. Moving to community sponsorship will help equalize support among the children in a given home or school. In addition, the change will lighten the administrative burden on sponsorship staff around the world and thus allow them to place more of their attention on meeting children’s needs. “This will give us the most possible control over how the funds we receive from sponsors are being allocated,” Myers said.

The change is being implemented to conform with international Salvation Army guidelines. The projects and programs that receive funds from OCS sponsors will be listed among those approved by the International Headquarters Projects Office. Some of those are already receiving funding from the USA South, but they need more support to be able to continue providing care for children in need.

“It doesn’t mean we will give up supporting all the other projects and centers we have supported in the past, but it does mean we want to use sponsors’ contributions more flexibly, so that we can direct our funds towards the greatest area of need,” Myers said.

Myers noted that the practice of posting children’s identities on websites and other media to attract sponsors can make them vulnerable to human traffickers, so the change is also being made to help protect children from potentially dangerous exposure.