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companion primer

SHORT-TERM MISSIONS A WISER APPROACH Applied Research for Vulnerable Children + Families


“More than two million Christians travel on international short-term mission trips every year, many of them intended to benefit vulnerable kids.�


G R E AT

R I S K

Service-focused travel during short-term missions trips can have the potential for great harm if not wisely led or prepared. These risks can be especially high when visitors seek to serve children, particularly those lacking the protection and connectedness of family.

G R E AT

P O T E N T I A L

The potential for good that short-term trips have calls for continued refining, correction, and improvement. To do this well, trip organizers and participants must have a clear sense of how to plan, prepare for, and carry out their service in ways that ensure safety and lasting wellbeing of children, families, and their communities. In this guide are 8 principles of better practice that provide a framework for preparing, leading, and planning a shortterm missions trip. Along with these 8 principles, we point to a more in-depth document providing 10 alternative models and 6 case studies for wiser, more fruitful shortterm mission trips.


PRINCIPLES FOR BETTER PRACTICE: THE ROOT OF STM


P R O T E C T I O N

Safeguarding children from harm is the first priority. Ensure your organization and partners have established and consistently review a child protection policy. In the policy, include background screenings and reporting procedures for suspected harm to a child.

AT TA C H M E N T

Support bonds between children and their parent or primary caregiver. Encourage children to seek physical and emotional affection from their long-term caregivers instead of trip participants, and teach trip participants how to redirect children to their parents and primary caregivers.


C A R E G I V E R S

Honor the role of parents and primary caregivers. Spotlight the parent or primary caregiver as the hero in a child’s life, and be willing to take on a supporting role.

C O M M U N I T Y

Support the communities surrounding vulnerable children. Consider activities that benefit the entire communities such as camps, clinics, or other training.


E X P E C TAT I O N S

Make sure the trip purpose is clear and expectations thoroughly understood. Help participants to view listening, learning, and building relationships as more central than any tasks they may accomplish.

PA R T N E R S H I P S

Anchor every trip in long-term relationships with quality partners. Long before sending trip participants, do the hard work necessary to investigate the potential partners thoroughly. Consider the quality of their work, local reputation, and standing with local and national authorities.


T R A I N I N G

Commit to learning before doing. Training should repeatedly emphasize the primary role of parents and caregivers, the priority of local leadership, and that the long-term needs of each child must always take priority over the desires of visitors.

M E D I A

Share stories and images with care. Images that include vulnerable children should be taken and shared only with permission from the child and their primary caregiver.


“We are all on a journey toward better care for childrentogether.�


To see examples and case studies of short-term missions done well, visit cafo.org/ovc/missions

For leaders committed to excellence in care for vulnerable children and the communities that care for them, CAFO’s Center on Applied Research for Vulnerable Children and Families is a trustworthy bridge between research, practice, and care reform that provides the best available guidance to inform the most effective care for children. To learn more, visit cafo.org/ovc


For leaders committed to excellence in care for vulnerable children and the communities that care for them, CAFO’s Center on Applied Research for Vulnerable Children and Families is a trustworthy bridge between research, practice, and care reform that provides the best available guidance to inform the most effective care for children.

cafo.org/ovc

Š2020 Christian Alliance for Orphans

Profile for Christian Alliance for Orphans

Short-term Missions: A Wiser Approach (Companion Primer)  

Short-term Missions: A Wiser Approach (Companion Primer)