“Your team was great to work with throughout this [certification] process. Having experts come in from the outside, put fresh eyes on what we do, spend that much time with us, and provide us with a recommendation report that gives us tailored ways we can continue to improve our processes is just as valuable as the certification itself! This felt like a partnership with Keeping Children Safe, and we are grateful for your engagement!”
I believe this was a great learning process for us, and while it may seem daunting to take on, I would encourage other organizations that this is “worth it” to go through. I think the learning and the opportunities we have coming out of certification are incredibly valuable, and will only serve to protect more children from harm, and further help us build a culture where everyone is respected and their rights honoured.”
According to the certification announcement from KCS, “Compassion has established a sound and robust framework for keeping children safe, as identified through a self-assessment, external review of key documents and interviews with key personnel. The framework identifies child safeguarding risks and describes the steps Compassion has taken to ensure that minimum child safeguarding measures are in place.”
While many organizations engage in training or a form of certification after they’ve been found negligent or encountered child protection incidents, Compassion voluntarily entered the certification process, inviting KCS experts to evaluate their work and give recommendations for improvements.
The KCS process took Compassion’s child protection team 18 months to complete and included a self-audit by each of Compassion’s 25 national offices. The team pored over more than 400 documents and conducted 68 individual interviews, including Compassion staff whose roles and responsibilities were not specific to child protection, to understand whether child protection was embedded across all departments and countries.
According to the KCS evaluation, Compassion exceeded certification requirements.
“Achieving this level of certification is an important milestone for us,” said Compassion’s senior child protection advisor Megan Kelly. “We are thrilled to have this validation and the opportunity to continue to implement systems and best practices to keep children safe.”
The KCS standards represent the gold standard in the NGO sector, and they have been adopted by the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID), the United Kingdom’s Charity Commission, and acknowledged by the UN. Paul Sergio Pinheiro, the independent expert for the UN study on violence against children, said of the standards: “They offer an excellent opportunity, not only for the improvement of the quality and professionalism of those working with children, but most importantly, [they] will help to achieve a greater impact for children.”
However, as valuable as the standards are, Sarah Byrd, Compassion’s child protection advisor and project lead for certification efforts, believes continuous learning is just as important, if not more important, than achieving certification. “Inviting others in to observe our processes provides new ideas and needed perspective so we can continue to improve our efforts to make sure children are safe and empowered.”
Compassion’s global child protection team will continue to collaborate with regional and national leadership this year as they determine how recommendations provided by KCS will be incorporated into existing child protection strategies and implemented for the benefit of children around the world.
About Compassion International
Founded in 1952, Compassion International is a Christian child development organization that works to release children from poverty in Jesus’ name. Compassion revolutionized the fight against global poverty by working exclusively with the Church to lift children out of spiritual, economic, social and physical poverty. Compassion partners with more than 7,500 churches in 25 countries to deliver its holistic child development program to over 2 million babies, children and young adults. Its child sponsorship program has been validated through independent, empirical research.
Keeping Children Safe’s certification scheme is for all organisations that work with, or come into contact with children. Our certification process, based on the International Child Safeguarding Standards, is the most effective way to demonstrate your organisation’s commitment to protecting children from harm and exploitation. Visit our Get certification page to find out more about KCS certification, and how to start the process.
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