Shakespeare once asked, “What’s in a name?”
Plenty. Your name identifies you. Your name can honor a parent or grandparent, or pay homage to a famous person your family reveres.
For an organization or company, a name often suggests what it values, what its mandate entails, or what it aspires to be.
When he established The Duke Endowment in 1924, James B. Duke directed a portion of his philanthropy to go to organizations that care for children who did not have a family or who were at risk of not having a family. Mr. Duke sought to “help those who are most unable to help themselves.” Over the years, we addressed his intent through what came to be known as our Child Care program area.
But in the 21st century, the name Child Care has created confusion about our identity. People routinely ask us: What do you do? Whom do you serve? “Child Care” has become synonymous with early childhood education, child development centers and child daycare. While vitally important to families and the fabric of communities, these are not the services Mr. Duke envisioned the Endowment providing.
For this reason, we are changing our name to Child and Family Well-Being. This better reflects our theory of change and grantmaking strategies: supporting the proper implementation of evidence-based programs, developing better approaches and advocating for select policies and reforms.
While Mr. Duke did not use the term well-being in his Trust Indenture (the legal document that created the Endowment), he understood the concept. Well-being generally encompasses relationships with family and friends, and includes emotional, physical and mental health as well as spiritual connection. Mr. Duke noted in his Indenture that through the creation of The Duke Endowment he “endeavored to make provision for the needs of mankind along physical, mental and spiritual lines….” For our program area, Mr. Duke emphasized the importance of family and child well-being when he said, “…while nothing can take the place of a home and its influences, every effort should be made to safeguard and develop” children with no family or those at risk of not having a family.
We believe the name Child and Family Well-Being better communicates our identity – what we value, our founder’s mandate and what we believe is optimum for children and families. Over the past three decades, the child welfare sector has focused its work on providing safety, permanence and well-being to children in the foster care system or those at risk of entering it. Safety and permanence are well-defined, but well-being has been a more elusive concept to nail down. We believe in order to really help children, you have to help the whole child, within the context of their families. And by emphasizing well-being in our title, we are signaling our commitment to pursue that ideal.
We thank all our partners who have joined us in helping uplift children and families across the Carolinas, and look forward to continuing this important work.
For more on the name change, visit our Q&A with the staff of the Child and Family Well-Being program area.