Who do I contact if I have more questions about the program or my sponsored child?
CERI staff are always glad to answer more of your questions and provide you with the information and guidance you need concerning your sponsored child, the CERI programs and services, or other ways for serving the poor and the oppressed overseas. Visit our web site at www.cerikids.org to find out most of the answers to your questions. If you couldn’t find the right information, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or give us a call at (210) 801-7300. For mail correspondence use our headquarters address at CERI, 1506 Bexar Crossing, San Antonio, TX 78232. Transparency and accountability are among our core values. Give us the opportunity to practice them by answering your questions!
Does CERI accept children of any religion into its programs?
CERI does not discriminate with regards to race, ethnicity, religion, or gender. CERI does not force Christianity onto sponsored children. We provide instruction, counsel, encouragement, and activities based on biblical principles and values. CERI staff are dedicated Christians whose job and calling include Christ-like compassion and care for the children and families they work with.
How does my sponsorship impact the child?
- Research says sponsorships work! Below is a list of rigorously conducted research studies that show which areas of a child’s life can be positively impacted by a sponsorship program.
- Wydick, Glewwe and Rutledge (2011) conducted an empirical study in 6 developing countries and surveyed 10,144 individuals to find out whether a sponsorship program made any difference in the lives of the sponsored children. Results indicated that the sponsored children benefitted from 2.4 additional years of formal education, were more likely to be employed, and were less likely to get married at an early age and become teen parents. Formerly sponsored children had an overall better quality of life at adulthood, and were more likely to assume community leadership roles. A positive spillover effect was also found for many of these outcomes onto younger siblings and other community residents of the same age.
- Barrera-Osorio, Bertrand, Linden and Perez-Calle (2011) conducted a rigorous study to compare the effects of 3 education-based sponsorship programs for at-risk children in Colombia. Children enrolled in any of the programs gained significantly in school attendance. And the 2 non-standard programs that conditioned the funds disbursement, significantly increased their enrollment rates in middle school and high school.
- Marillo (2013) surveyed 286 sponsored children in Indonesia and compared them to 234 non-sponsored children. The sponsored children, who were between 4 and 14 years old, had higher self-esteem and optimism than the non-sponsored group of the same age.
- Ross and Wydick (2011) conducted a follow up study of 570 Kenyan children aged 10 to 18. They surveyed sponsored and un-sponsored children in 3 communities, to measure their self-esteem, sociality, optimism, spiritual factors, self-expectations, and reference points (school completion, professional aspirations, preferred age at marriage and childbearing). All the measured outcomes were significantly better in the sponsored children than in the unsponsored group.
- Kremer, Miguel, and Thornton (2009) studied a group of girls enrolled in a scholarship program in Kenya. Participating girls showed substantially higher exam scores and improved attendance compared to the girls who did not participate in the program. Even after the scholarship program was discontinued, it continued boosting the girls’ scores! A positive spillover effect was found in the boys who attended the same schools as the participating girls. An unexpected finding was the decreased teacher absenteeism rates in the participating schools.
- Behrman, Parker and Todd (2007) decided to investigate whether a school sponsorship program had any long term effects 5 years after it ended. They found that participating children were able to maintain their high test scores and consistent school attendance long after the program was discontinued. They also found that participating youth postponed working, in favor of education, and started a career later than the rest of their peers (due to staying longer in school). The results also suggested that those youth were more likely to obtain a better job (non-agricultural) than their peers.
What information can a sponsor expect to receive?
- A CERI sponsor receives a translated progress report from the sponsored child’s caseworker two times a year. These reports summarize the case manager’s efforts towards achieving the goals listed on the child’s service plan, the child’s progress over the last 6 months (the usual reporting period), milestones reached, remaining challenges and school performance.
- A CERI sponsor also receives quarterly letters from the sponsored child. The first letter can be expected by the third month of sponsorship, due to program enrollment procedures (assessment, documentation, service planning, etc.).
- Correspondence from the sponsored child is written by the child and translated by CERI national staff. Messages may include news about the child’s life, family, and school as well as questions addressed to the sponsor. Young children may draw pictures.
- Hard copy letters are mailed to the sponsor’s mailing address by the CERI headquarters staff. The sponsor is encouraged to respond to the letter, by emailing a message to email@example.com.
How do I correspond with my sponsored child?
- A sponsor will receive translated hard copy letters quarterly from the sponsored child (mailed by CERI headquarters staff). The first letter can be expected by the third month of sponsorship, due to program enrollment procedures (assessment, documentation, service planning, etc.).
- The sponsor can send correspondence to the child by emailing a message to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Please contact us at email@example.com if any questions or concerns arise regarding appropriate communication between sponsor and child. CERI is committed to ensuring a superior experience for both sponsors and children, as it is our ultimate goal to meet the vital needs of all children and youth in our programs.
What if I do not have email? How will I communicate?
- If a sponsor does not have an email account, he/she can mail a letter (or printed pictures) to the CERI headquarters at CERI, 1506 Bexar Crossing, San Antonio, TX 78232. CERI staff will email the printed letter to the child’s caseworker to be translated and shared with the child.
- Hard copy letters from the sponsored child, and progress reports will be mailed to the sponsor’s mailing address by the CERI headquarters staff.
May I connect with my sponsored child through social media?
- Communication via social media is discouraged for multiple reasons. The main reasons include the safety of the child and setting healthy boundaries around the relationship between the sponsor and the child.
- We acknowledge that most of the CERI sponsors and some of the sponsored youth might have social media accounts, and could connect on social media. However, CERI sponsors are encouraged to communicate with the child through the proper channels provided by CERI (email correspondence to firstname.lastname@example.org, or mail to our headquarters address).
What should I write about?
- First and most important, encourage your sponsored child!
- Quote scriptures that point to his or her importance as a person.
- Share about yourself, your family and your activities.
- Ask questions about your sponsored child’s family, school work, favorite activities, etc.
- As you write, carefully consider the child’s cultural context and social conditions; for example, many of our children have never been to a McDonalds or a Chick-Lil-A! So, you might have to write in terms they understand.
- Sponsors need to use discretion in communication with sponsored children and be mindful at all times of the circumstances in which sponsored children live. Most of them live in extreme poverty.
- Please, limit photo sharing with the child, by not including photos of personal possessions, homes, cars, material belongings, and extravagant vacations.
- Messages between sponsor and child should not include discussions about financial support or requests for money or material goods (clothing, computers, iPods, iPads, cell phones, etc.).
How long does a child sponsorship last?
We hope the relationship will last a lifetime. But the duration of the sponsorship can vary. Children between 0-21 years of age qualify for sponsorship. Sponsorships might end for any of these 3 reasons:
Successful discharge from the CERI program. Our goal is that each school age child would finish a secondary level of education, and will decide to pursue a professional degree. Sometimes that means a college degree. Most of the times that means a technical college. This goal, for most youth, is reached by 21 years of age. Once the young adult obtained a professional degree, started a job that would help them establish self-sufficiency and has a stable place to stay, he/she is successfully discharged from the program.
Refusal to participate or ineligibility. All children can decide whether they want to participate in the programs offered by CERI or not. Children and youth who at some moment, refuse to participate in the activities offered by the programs, refuse to meet with their case manager, or refuse to attend school, are discharged from the CERI program and become ineligible for sponsorship. Children and young adults also become ineligible for sponsorship once they become officially adopted by their foster family, move to another country, get married, or repeatedly drop out of school and do not wish to re-enroll.
Sponsor’s decision to stop sponsoring. Our desire is that sponsors would continue their sponsorships until the child is successfully discharged from the program. However, we realize that this is not always possible, due to various life circumstances and personal decisions. Once a sponsor decides that he/she is no longer able to sponsor, an email made to email@example.com that communicates about this decision, is enough to be removed off the sponsors list and stop any automated payments.
How does CERI decide where to establish a program?
This is determined by several factors:
- The level of need found in a particular people group in a foreign country;
- Necessary political stability of the country in order for CERI to establish a program;
- The opportunity to partner with a community organization, such as a Christian school, community center, or church; and
- And the availability of local leadership and capacity for establishing a CERI program.
CERI strives to expand its programs and considers each opportunity on an individual basis.
How are children chosen for sponsorship?
- Children who qualify for Foster Care are 0 to 15 years old and come from orphanages, shelters, vulnerable and abusive homes, or off the streets. CERI aims to place them in caring foster homes and support the child and the family through a continuum of services and a financial stipend.
- Children who qualify for Transitional Care are 16 to 21 years old and come from foster homes, orphanages, shelters or impoverished an abusive family environments that do not allow them to continue their education beyond the mandatory minimum. Transitional Care youth are offered a set of services designed to prepare them for independent living, the possibility to obtain professional education, and a financial stipend.
Is there only one sponsor for my sponsored child?
- Yes, CERI promotes on-on-one sponsorships.
- A Sunday school class, an organization, or a church, who designate one person for contact and correspondence, are also considered one sponsor.
- We believe that a healthy, positive and lasting interpersonal relationship between the sponsor and child has the capacity to empower a child, boost his/her self-confidence, resiliency and hope in the future!
- One-on-one sponsorships offer sponsors the opportunity to be consistent and encourage the child with letters, pictures, and words of wisdom.
How can I make my sponsorship payments?
- CERI offers three payment options: (1) Recurring, monthly payments with a credit or debit card; (2) Check or money order; or (3) Cash.
- The recurring, monthly payment with a credit or debit card is a preferred option, since it saves the CERI staff’s time and labor.
- Please contact us if you have established an automatic, recurring payment and your credit/debit card becomes lost, stolen, or is discontinued.
May I send gifts directly to my sponsored child?
- We encourage sponsors to send a monetary gift, through CERI, instead of mailing a package or parcel directly to the child.
- Mailing packages to developing countries can be expensive, and can take a long time to reach the child (up to one month). Moreover, many times the gifted items are not age appropriate, not the right size, or not relevant in their cultural context.
- Extravagant gifts to sponsored children and youth (e.g., a smartphone) are discouraged.
May I send or give money to my sponsored child?
- Yes. Sponsors can send a monetary gift to their sponsored child through CERI.
- A sponsor might send a birthday gift or a Christmas gift. Popular giving options are $25, $50 or $100. A gift for an individual child should not exceed $100.
- Gifts larger than $100 are welcomed for the benefit of all children in the CERI programs who otherwise would not receive a birthday or Christmas present.
- CERI national staff accompany sponsored children on gift shopping trips. Usually, children chose to spend the gifted amount for clothes, shoes, schools supplies or food.
May I visit my sponsored child?
- Yes! CERI encourages visits to sponsored children via the CERI sponsor trips.
- A sponsor may also visit his/her child independently, but CERI asks that sponsors notify the CERI headquarters at least one month in advance of the intended visit.
- CERI national staff will accompany a sponsor visiting a child.
May my sponsored child visit me?
- Sponsors are strongly discouraged to make attempts at bringing a sponsored child for a visit to the U.S. or any other location outside the child’s home country.
- The main reason for discouraging such trips are to keep the child safe, abide by local laws, and avoid “westernizing” the child. CERI sponsorships are about building resiliency and encouraging children to thrive in their own nation.
May I adopt my sponsored child?
- CERI is not an adoption agency. However, if you wish to adopt internationally, you can contact a U.S.-based adoption agency that is active in the country of origin of your sponsored child.
- If your sponsored child is legally adoptable, a U.S.-based adoption agency might help you navigate the adoption process.
- Many times, legally adoptable children are open for adoption to citizens of their own country of origin, and not available for international adoption.
How is my sponsorship money being used?
100% of your sponsorship goes directly toward the sponsored child’s care. See the pie charts below to understand how your dollars are being used. The levels of giving differ depending on the country and program you choose to sponsor a child in.
The Foster Care program developed in Sri Lanka costs $70 per month and the sponsorship money is distributed as shown is this chart. $30 goes to the child stipend in cash. Foster parents use $20 for the child’s food, clothing, school supplies and living expenses. The rest of the money ($10) is deposited in the child’s personal bank account, to be disbursed upon school graduation. $20 are used for their case manager’s services. $10 are spent for parenting trainings and support groups for the foster parents, and another $10 is used for in-country program support and administrative costs (office, accounting, bank fees, etc.).
The Foster Care program ran in Moldova costs $100 per month and the sponsorship money is distributed as shown is this chart. $40 goes to the child stipend in cash. Foster parents use the money for the child’s food, clothing, school supplies and living expenses. $30 are used for their case manager’s services. $10 are spent for foster parent recruitment, training and evaluation. Another $10 are spent for parenting trainings and support groups for the foster parents. And the last $10 are used for in-country program support and administrative costs (office, accounting, bank fees, etc.).
The Transitional Care program ran in Moldova for youth of ages 16 to 21 costs $100 per month and the sponsorship funds cover the following needs: $60 goes to the youth stipend in cash. Case managers help youth develop a budget and use the stipend for food, clothing, school supplies and living expenses. $20 are used for their case manager’s services. $10 are spent for Independent Living trainings and extracurricular activities. And the last $10 are used for in-country program support and administrative costs (office, accounting, bank fees, etc.).
Since $100 cannot fully cover the cost of running a Transitional Care program in Moldova, especially for the youth who don’t have a place to stay, CERI has committed to raising an additional $20 per youth, from outside donors, that allowed us to have an emergency shelter available for any of our youth who become homeless.
BCFS – CERI’s parent agency – underwrites the operational expenses of the CERI headquarters.
Sponsorship support does not cover the entire cost of services to children and youth in the CERI programs. Generous individual supporters, church grants and corporate partners contribute towards the sustainability of our international programs.
What other benefits does a sponsored child receive beyond sponsorship services?
- CERI maintains a privately funded fund – the Don and Birdie Reeder Global Emergency Fund – that provides for various emergency needs that may arise, such as illness, disasters, deaths, and family crisis.
- The CERI Academic Support Fund has been created to ensure that orphaned, impoverished and at-risk students have a chance to complete a college or university degree program. The fund is used to enhance and supplement the services provided to youth who participate in the CERI Transitional Care program.
- The KidsNBoots Fund exists with the purpose to keep the feet of the orphans warm. CERI distributes warm socks and boots in the developing countries with harsh winters. All sponsored children in the CERI programs receive a pair of boots and warm socks once in 2 years.
- Church partners also supplement sponsorship support by providing direct funding for program needs, such as seminars, graduations, volunteer projects and summer camps.
- Church partners also provide support to CERI by conducting mission trips (medical missions, Shoe Missions, sponsors’ trips) to minister to children and youth in the CERI programs.
Will I receive a tax deductible receipt?
- Yes. CERI issues a monthly receipt letter, as well as a year-end receipt* of contributions that total over $500. *Year-end receipts are issued by CERI’s parent agency, BCFS.
- Gifts to CERI programs are tax-deductible. Designated contributions to your sponsored child for birthdays and Christmas, however, are personal gifts and are not tax-deductible.
- Note: Donors are responsible for proof of donations to the IRS, particularly in-kind gifts.
What if I need to discontinue my sponsorship?
- Sponsorship is not a contract but rather a covenant; therefore, a sponsor can discontinue support at any time.
- Our desire is that sponsors would continue their sponsorships until the child is successfully discharged from the program. However, we realize that this is not always possible, due to various life circumstances and personal decisions. Once a sponsor decides that he/she is no longer able to sponsor, an email made to firstname.lastname@example.org that communicates about this decision, is enough to be removed off the sponsors list and stop any automated payments.
- CERI is dedicated to finding a new sponsor for the child whose sponsor stopped supporting him/her.