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Working with Underprivileged Children in Costa Rica

Do you love kids and want to help those in need? Would you like to travel to Costa Rica and volunteer abroad? Join IFRE and make a difference in paradise!

Costa Rica is the jewel of Central America. You’ll be delighted to find an array of exotic wildlife, beautiful beaches, friendly locals, and endless opportunities for adventure. Although rich in natural resources, many Costa Ricans suffer from poverty. Poor families struggle to afford childcare, and they often have to choose between not going to work and leaving their children alone and unsupervised. Volunteer in Costa Rica with IFRE and help change this!

IFRE teams up with local community centers to provide safe and reliable childcare to low-income families so they can go to work and make the money they need to improve their situation. You will provide compassionate and attentive care to Costa Rican children, teaching them, playing games with them, and offering them a safe and happy environment in which to grow and develop.

Volunteer with underprivileged children in Costa Rica and help poor families earn the money they need to survive. Give them the peace of mind that their children are well-cared for and in good hands. The love, care and attention you provide these children will greatly influence them as they feel inspired and motivated to lead successful and productive adult lives.

Are you interested in providing relief to struggling families and creating a safe and loving environment for children in need? Then contact IFRE today to learn more about this exciting opportunity to help children succeed!

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Volunteer Responsibilities and Impact:

In this volunteer program in Costa Rica, you will be helping care for underprivileged children in community centers. You will spend most of your time keeping them engaged in fun and positive activities, helping with homework, playing with the kids and giving them the care and attention they deserve. You will educate them on hygiene and cleanliness issues. You can also share your skills and creativity with the children. You will work 3-4 hours per day Monday to Friday. Work hours may be in the morning or afternoon depending on the needs of the project.

Without the help of volunteers like yourself, these poor families would be put in a terrible position. Since the parents need to work to keep food on the table and a house over their heads, the children would be left home alone and would not receive the care and attention they need to develop properly and have safe, happy, and fulfilling childhoods.

Skills and Qualifications:

You do not need any specific qualification or experience to join our childcare project except love for children and a passion for making a difference in their lives. You will also need to be patient, compassionate, and act as a good role model.

Volunteers also need to be at least 16 years old or older to join this program on their own. Volunteers below the age of 18 years old will need parental consent and those below the age of 16 years old need to be accompanied by their parent, guardian or faculty leader if they wish to volunteer. A background check is required for all volunteers working with children.

Though not mandatory, it will be helpful to have basic Spanish skills. If you want to learn Spanish or improve your skills, we highly recommend you enroll in our Spanish Immersion classes. We offer them while you volunteer, so it’s super convenient for you and a great opportunity!

Working with children from poor families in Costa Rica is an incredibly fulfilling experience that will present you with fun and exciting adventures each and every day.

Here is a sample schedule to give you a rough idea of what you can expect from your service project. Actual hours worked will vary based on your project placement. Since you’ll be caring for children while their parents work, the project will likely have a schedule which accommodates the parent’s work hours.

  • First Day : On your first day of volunteering with underprivileged children in Costa Rica, you will be brought to the community center where you will be working. You will meet the dedicated local project staff, and all the awesome kids for which you will be caring. You’ll have an orientation where you’ll learn all about your project, your daily schedule, safety measures to follow, and the customs and culture of Costa Rica.
  • Weekdays: Your work with the kids begins on the second day, and your exact schedule is going to vary based on your placement. A typical day might look something like this:
  • 7.00 to 7.30 AM: Start your day with a traditional Costa Rican breakfast shared with your host family, one where the kitchen may be filled with the smell of fresh tortillas and delicious café con leche. Costa Rican breakfasts are often large, and include gallo pinto, a signature rice and beans dish, and fresh fruit.
  • 7.45 AM: Head off to the community center where you’ll be helping. Enjoy a fun-filled day of caring for Costa Rican children in need.
  • 12.00 PM: Lunch break. Head back to your host family or spend the time bonding with your fellow volunteers in the Costa Rica children program and making friends from around the world.
  • 3.00 PM: After your volunteering ends for the day, you’re free to explore the surrounding area and have some fun! Team up with your fellow volunteers and make memories that will last a lifetime.
  • 6.45 PM: Gather around the table with your host family for dinner each night. A traditional meal is the Casado, it features rice, beans, some type of salad, a protein, and usually cooked plantains. Practice your Spanish and get immersed in the Costa Rican culture!

Fees & Program Dates

Program Dates

IFRE programs begin every Monday year-round. If you have travel constraints, you can still start your chosen program on any day of the year.

Volunteers can participate in our program from 1 week up to 12 weeks.


Since 2006, IFRE has been the most trusted and respected volunteer abroad organization in the world, and also the most affordable. We’re dedicated to providing the highest quality volunteer programs at the lowest fees, which make it possible for everyone, especially students, to volunteer internationally and make a positive impact on the lives of others.

We believe in 100% transparency. Rest assured, we never use middlemen. Your one-time registration fee of $299 covers our administrative costs. The low weekly fee is paid in the host country directly to your host family and project (via country coordinator), and includes housing, food, and minor expenses. IFRE is a non-profit organization, so your program fees are tax deductible.

Volunteer Program Fees (US$)

Duration San Jose Manuel Antonio
  1 Week   $455   -
  2 Weeks   $765   -
  3 Weeks   $1,075   $1,255
  4 Weeks   $1,345   $1,535
  5 Weeks   $1,530   $1,730
  6 Weeks   $1,715   $1,925
  7 Weeks   $1,900   $2,120
  8 Weeks   $2,085   $2,315
  9 Weeks   $2,270   $2,510
  10 Weeks   $2,455   $2,705
  11 Weeks   $2,640   $2,900
  12 Weeks   $2,825   $3,095

Comprehensive Travel Insurance $3.49/day ( below 28 years) and $4.49/day ( above 28 years) »

Spanish Immersion Classes
Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica - $150/week
San Jose, Costa Rica - $125/week

How your fee is allocated?

Program Fees Cover:

  • Shared Accommodation with host family
  • 2 meals per day (Breakfast & Dinner)
  • Airport Pick up
  • In-country support
  • Program Orientation
  • Project Management
  • Volunteer Certificate
  • Discount for returning volunteers

Program Fees Exclude:

  • Visas
  • Airfare
  • Personal expenses such as soft drinks and snacks
  • Daily transportation
  • Airport return transfer

The volunteering in Costa Rica program fees will cover expenses from the first day of the program to the last day of the program. If you arrive before the first day of the program or you decide you stay beyond your program’s last day, you will be responsible for any additional expenses.

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Accommodation and Meal

During your volunteer work in Costa Rica, you will be staying with a welcoming host family. The accommodations are located in safe neighborhoods. All the host families have been carefully selected and have experience hosting international volunteers.

You will be sharing a room with another volunteer of the same gender. Volunteer rooms are basic, clean and comfortable, and you will have access to showers, hygienic toilets and electricity. The volunteer projects may be walking distance from the accommodation or require public transportation. Volunteers in Costa Rica will be provided with 2 local meals a day (breakfast and dinner). We accommodate vegetarian needs but not special dietary requirements.

Learn more about IFRE’s accommodations and meals in Costa Rica. .

Free Time and Weekends:

San Jose has lots of parks, shopping, museums, and restaurants to keep you busy in the evenings, which you’ll have free. You’ll also be off on the weekends, so take off on an adventure to the many accessible destinations around this small country. Swim at the base of a waterfall, hike to a volcano, visit a wildlife sanctuary, or lounge on a picturesque beach. The opportunities for exploration are endless.

Discover what to do in your free time in San Jose, Costa Rica.

Safety and in Country Support

Your safety is our top priority during your Costa Rica volunteering experience. We go out of our way to make sure you have a secure and successful time abroad. We carefully select safe destinations and trusted and professional local partners. We also offer guidance and support from our fantastic in-country staff who you can reach out to at any time if something should happen.

Learn more about IFRE’s safety and support in San Jose, Costa Rica.

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Working with Underprivileged Children in Costa Rica: FAQs

IFRE takes care of all those little details needed to plan the perfect Costa Rica volunteer trip. Here are some of the things you should know when traveling abroad with us:

Arrival and departure

You will fly into Juan Santamaria International Airport in San Jose, Costa Rica. Make sure you let us know the details of your flight, and we’ll make sure we have someone waiting for you when you land who will take you safely to your accommodations.

IFRE doesn’t offer departure transport services after you are done, so you’ll need to plan for this. Just check with your local project staff, and they’ll be happy to let you know how to set up a taxi to the airport.


You will need to apply for a visa in advance depending on your nationality. Do some research ahead of time and find out the requirements for someone from your home country.

A lot of volunteers will be eligible to simply ask for a visa stamp upon your arrival at the airport as you pass through immigration. Most will be eligible for a 90-day tourist visa but you should know you will need to provide proof of onward travel. If you have a round trip ticket, this will serve as all the proof you need.

You should know that it is not possible to extend your Costa Rican tourist visa beyond 90 days. Should you desire to stay in the country longer, you will need to pass over the border and re-enter. The law states a mandatory 72-hour departure, though at most border crossings only 3 hours is enforced.

Research the visa requirements at the official Immigration site of Costa Rica.


Volunteers should get up to date on vaccines before heading abroad. Since you’ll be working with children from low-income families that may not have access to basic healthcare, you are going to want to be sure you are fully protected.

Please consult a travel doctor who is knowledgeable about current health issues and epidemics in Costa Rica. You can also find the information on Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Global Health Canada or in Travelers' Health United Kingdom.

We highly recommend that you get all the recommended vaccinations before heading to Costa Rica for the volunteering program. You should be up to date on your routine vaccines, as well as Hepatitis A & B and Typhoid.

For more readings
Volunteer Health and Safety
Safety tips for your volunteer abroad trip

Why volunteer with underprivileged children in Costa Rica?

For anyone who loves children, this opportunity to work with them is an amazing experience that will fulfill your passion and broaden your horizons as you volunteer and travel with amazing like-minded individuals.

Embrace your love of kids

If you have always loved kids and have a passion for working with them, this is the perfect project for you! You will get to play games, have fun, and bring smiles to their little faces. These Costa Rican kids will touch your heart and you’ll remember these moments forever!

Help poor families make a living

The impoverished families you will be helping already have difficult lives filled with many struggles, and they shouldn’t have to choose between going to work and making sure their children are receiving the care they need. With your help, they don’t have to!

Make the world a better place

The nightly news is full of all the bad things happening around the globe, but a lot of good stuff is happening, too! The actions of good people like you, no matter how small, really add up! Volunteering helping kids in need makes an impact on the individual child, the parents and family, and by extension, the community. Little by little, you’ll be making the world a better place.

Gain valuable experience

The volunteering project in Costa Rica offering child care to poor families will teach you a lot of valuable skills and looks great on your resume. From gaining hands-on experience for jobs in teaching or childcare to just showing you are a compassionate and proactive do-gooder, this experience can really help you in your future education and career goals.

Visit the exciting country of Costa Rica!

One of the best parts of this project is its attractive location! Costa Rica is an amazing country with a million things to do and see while you’re there. Explore the unique city of San Jose, check out the many volcanoes and hot springs, hike in the rainforest, go zip lining, snorkel, hang out at beautiful beaches, and make friends with the welcoming locals!

Other Volunteering Opportunities in Costa Rica

You can make a difference in a multitude of ways in Costa Rica. You can join any of our following projects:

Contact IFRE today to learn more!

Other Orphanage and Children Projects Worldwide

The inability to care for children due to demanding work hours and lack of resources is sadly a prevalent problem in many countries around the world. To help support these families who only want the best for their children, IFRE arranges childcare projects in many different countries, the most popular of which are listed below:

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