For the record: How we gather the info you see on your child’s Family Record

Family record:
A family record is part of what you receive when you sponsor a child. It lists info about your kid, his family and his home.

When you look at your child’s Family Record, it’s like a little peek into her everyday life. We hope it makes you feel closer to know something about her!

But over time, you may notice a few inconsistencies based on what a child says in a letter, after you’ve visited or just from comparing a newer record to an old one.

How do these discrepancies occur? Well, because gathering info for a child’s Family Record isn’t as easy as it may sound.

You see, when our field officers enroll a child, they visit the home and talk to the family. That information is entered into our computer system and ultimately ends up on the child’s Family Record.

The details are based on information provided by the family and the field officer’s observations about their living conditions and family life. It’s sort of a snapshot of the day our staff visited the family.

But there are many reasons why it can look different over time, including receiving incorrect or misunderstood information from parents, having to make an educated guess or just plain old human error.

It’s a common sight to see our field officers out in the community, like this staff member in Colombia.

What you’ll see on a family record

Birth date and name

We always ask to see a birth certificate to verify a child’s birth date and name spelling, but families frequently don’t have a copy.

In addition, the parents may not be certain of the exact birthday or spelling of their child’s name. In these cases, the field office and the parents will agree upon a reasonable birth date and name spelling for the child. (And for kids in India, the name can be a phonetic interpretation of how it’s pronounced in their native language!)

  • Income

    As you know, most CI families don’t have steady jobs and incomes. One month’s earnings are rarely the same as the next. We try to make an estimate based on the information the family chooses to share with us — and that number may go up and down on subsequent records depending on the family’s success in finding work during that period.

  • Siblings

    Again, we rely on the parents to tell us the ages of their children, and they’re not always sure. In addition, siblings and other family members may move in and out of the home based on their age and financial situation. If a sibling disappears from a family record, it’s probably because they’ve moved out.

Whatever it takes: This field officer in Honduras uses a motorbike to make it easier to travel to remote areas.

We work hard to ensure the information is as accurate as possible so you are informed about your child’s life. If you ever have a question about a detail on your child’s Family Record, please talk to someone on our Care Team, and together we’ll figure it out.

Tell us: What information on your children’s Family Records helps you understand their lives better? What information do you think is the least helpful?


Oct 10, 2016

I found this to be very interesting

Oct 27, 2016

It would be helpful to have he Family Records include whether or not the family owns their home/land.

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