Frequently asked questions
sponsor travel preparation & Visit Info
Before you go
- How much will it cost?
- Why do I need to give eight weeks’ notice for my visit?
- Do I need health insurance?
- Will my cell phone work when I am in another country?
- Why can’t I visit on a weekend or holiday?
- Will Children International arrange my travel plans?
- Will I need immunizations?
- Will I need a passport and visa? How do I get these?
- Do I need to do a background check for a visit?
- Can I directly contact the office in the country where my child lives to arrange my visit?
- Is there an age limit for visits?
- I'm an LGBTI traveler. Is there anything I should know before traveling?
- When will you tell my child I am visiting?
- I’ll be traveling to my child’s country but won’t have time to meet my child. Can I still bring a gift?
- I’m not traveling to my child’s country, but I have a friend/family member who is. Can they visit my child?
- I’ll be traveling to a country where Children International works, but I don’t sponsor a child there. Can I visit a CI community center?
- My child is no longer in the Children International program. Can I still visit him/her?
- Can I visit more than one child?
- What should I do if I need to cancel?
- I’m traveling in less than eight weeks. Can I still visit?
- What happens if Children International can’t approve my visit date?
- I’d like to visit Little Rock. What do I need to know?
- What should I pack?
- What’s the weather like in…?
- What gifts should I bring?
While you’re there/when you arrive
- Do I need to contact anyone after I arrive in my child’s country?
- Who can I contact if I’m in my child’s country and need help/need to cancel? Can I contact Children International’s headquarters in Kansas City?
- How long will the visit last?
- Can the child come to my hotel so we can swim?
- Can I meet my child’s family?
- Can I bring gifts for my sponsored child?
- I can’t speak the language! How will we talk to each other?
- I’m fluent in the language. Do I still need an interpreter?
- Can I give cash to my child while I am there?
- Can I write my child and mention my visit?
After you return
Before you go
Each trip has its own unique expenses, but you should make sure to budget for:
- Meals with your child, your child’s family and your visit hosts (a few CI staff members)
- Any activities planned with your child (and possibly your child’s family)
- $100-$150 to help cover set-up and basic transportation costs for these special visits.
You’ll also need to arrange and budget separately for your airfare, hotel and transportation to and from the airport.
There’s a lot to coordinate. (That’s why we don’t want you to purchase airline tickets or pay for your hotel too early.) We need time to:
- Receive your criminal background check
- Coordinate the visit with our office in the country where your child lives
- Arrange for resources, such as guides, translators and drivers
- Contact and coordinate with your child’s family
- Arrange for the child and/or family members to take time off from work or school
It’s a good idea. Check with your health insurer about international health coverage for the duration of your trip.
Check with your cell phone provider before you leave to find out. It’s an expensive mistake to discover too late that you don’t have coverage!
Here’s some info for major cell providers:
For one, it’s a lot safer for you to visit during regular weekdays. (Crime is often greatest during the evenings and on weekends.) Second, we get a lot of sponsors who visit. So, we want to make sure our staff members who work with our kids have time off to spend with their families.
We can recommend hotels, but our Care Team ambassadors – as awesome as they are! – don’t have the type of expertise that a travel agency can provide.
It’s likely. Ask your family physician. You can also check the State Department’s recommendations for the country you plan to visit.
Probably a passport; maybe on the visa. Check with your local government to find out for sure. If you live in the United States, visit www.travel.state.gov.
Yes. We now require a background check for anyone 18 and older who will be meeting the kids in person, for the safety of the children.
We request that you visit ACS Data Services to complete your criminal background check. Click here to provide your name and email address to start your ACS application. There is an ACS $35 processing fee, which is separate from the Children International visit expenses.
The information being collected will be used solely for the purpose of initiating a criminal background check at the request of Children International. Once this info is submitted, we will send an email with a link that leads to the background check application. Once you’re finished with the application, you must submit payment in the amount of $35 via credit card before the application can be processed. Results of the background check will be made available to Children International. Your information will be kept confidential and secure and shared only with the necessary staff members.
They’re awfully busy taking care of your child. Please call us, instead. We will have you contact the agency three weeks before your visit, however, to confirm details.
No. Just be aware of challenges you might have — especially considering unsanitary environments, unsafe water and unfamiliar food you might encounter.
Check out the U.S. Department of State’s LGBTI Travel Information and review your sponsored child's country information page on the site as well.
As soon as we can after your trip is confirmed!
I’ll be traveling to my child’s country but won’t have time to meet my child. Can I still bring a gift?
Sure! Contact us to make the arrangements.
I’m not traveling to my child’s country, but I have a friend/family member who is. Can they visit my child?
You bet. Give us a call. Then, we’ll help with the rest.
I’ll be traveling to a country where Children International works, but I don’t sponsor a child there. Can I visit a CI community center?
Most definitely! Call the Kansas City office so we can plan for your visit.
We’ll try to help make that happen! Call us to provide info so we can work to locate your child. We’ll let you know if we can arrange it!
Of course! Please indicate this when you call.
Please give us a call at 800-888-3089 ASAP. If you are already in the country, please contact the agency directly.
Maybe. Get in touch with us ASAP. We’ll do our best to accommodate your request. But, we’ll be honest – it can be really difficult on such short notice.
We’ll work with you to find another date or arrange for you to drop off a gift and meet the staff.
Visiting a child in Little Rock is a little different than an international visit. Give us a call and we can provide more details! 800-888-3089.
Got some fancy shoes to show off? A new Apple Watch? Best to leave those at home. When dressing for your visit, choose modest and comfy over stylish. Every culture is different, and what’s acceptable at home might not be where your child lives. Jeans and a plain T-shirt are perfect. No shorts, please! Skirts? Keep them on the long side – knee-length minimum. (Got a specific question about the country you’re visiting? Give us a call! We’ll be happy to discuss!)
We get asked this question a lot, and we know weather is really important when it comes to packing for your trip. We’ve found some great information to help you prepare. Just click on the country you’re visiting to learn more:
You want to shower some extra goodies on your child? Yay! Indulge your generous heart! Just be sure to run your gift by a CI staffer first. And, remember: You’ll probably have time to shop with your child, so that can be a fun experience, as well. (Plus, you don’t have to pack a bunch of bulky extras!)
While you’re there/when you arrive
If you confirmed with the office there before you departed, no.
If you are in country, it would be best if you contacted the agency directly. However, we’re here for you:
- Call 816-942-2000 (7:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. CT, Monday-Friday)
- Chat online in real time at Children.org (8 a.m.-4 p.m. CT, Monday-Friday)
- Email us at email@example.com.
No. Unfortunately, it’s against our Child Protection Policy.
Yes! Whoever can arrange to be out of school or work will be eager to meet you!
Definitely! But, if you want to save yourself some hassle, wait to buy them when you go shopping with your child. You’ll have better luck ensuring you get something age and culturally appropriate.
No worries. We’ll provide an interpreter.
Maybe not an interpreter, but we’ll always have a staff member present.
No, and here’s why: It’s honestly not safe for you or your child to carry cash in most situations. (It puts you both at risk for thieves – which is why we encourage use of credit cards and storing them in one of those nerdy hidden fanny packs!)
If you just can’t imagine not providing something more than a couple of gifts, you can make a donation to the family through Children International. We’ll gladly handle the shopping and will send you a follow-up with all the details (including photos if your gift tops $100!).
Yes! Do it!
After you return home
Click “Ignore.” Yeah, that just feels wrong, we know. But, for your safety and theirs, we don’t allow direct contact between sponsors and kids. (Read more in our Child Protection Policy.)
- Tell us all about your visit! Visit “My Social Center” to share your experience with other sponsors.
- Share your voice on social! Join the power of (every) ONE and change your Facebook profile picture.
- Tag CI in your photos on social media, but don’t forget to keep these tips in mind when sharing these pictures and information online.
- Encourage your friends and family to check out our website!
Reading this will help you understand some of our rules for your trip. (We’ll also ask you to sign a copy upon your arrival saying that you agree to abide by the rules.)
We’ll ask you to take a look at these before your visit, too.
- Visit request form (Word form)
- Sponsor visit release form (Word form)
- Sponsor visit guidelines (PDF)