Developing Church-Based Child Care

High quality child care helps prepare children for school and for learning through their academic careers. But in rural communities, parents sometimes face limited choices for child care services. To support communities and United Methodist churches in rural North Carolina, The Duke Endowment helped rural congregations begin and expand child care programs.

This initiative is now closed. Quality child care is important to child development, yet with North Carolina’s shrinking rural population – and the increased pattern of commuting to jobs in more urban areas – rural churches had a difficult time sustaining quality programs and five-star ratings. The Endowment did not want to keep helping programs get started if churches could not sustain them afterwards.


Many United Methodist churches in rural North Carolina opened child care centers as a way to help their congregations and communities. The Duke Endowment supported those efforts with grants to build facilities, buy playground equipment and train staff.

At Sandy Plains United Methodist Church in Pembroke, N.C., for example, a $13,000 grant from the Endowment in 2002 bought educational supplies and equipment. An $18,000 grant in 2006 helped with improvements. And $135,000 was awarded in 2008 for general support.

The Endowment supported child care at rural churches for more than 20 years, but this initiative is now closed.

Participating Sites in North Carolina

  • North Carolina Conference, United Methodist Church, Raleigh
  • Western North Carolina Conference, United Methodist Church, Charlotte


    Area of Work

    • Congregational outreach

    Program Area

    • Rural Church

    Grantmaking Status

    This program ran from 1999 to 2011

    Areas of Work

    • Prevention and early intervention for at-risk children

      To equip children and families with skills to ensure that children reach developmental milestones to lead successful lives.

    • Out-of-home care for youth

      To drive child welfare systems toward greater accountability for child well-being.

    • Quality and safety of health care

      Improving the quality and safety of health care delivery

    • Access to health care

      Improving health by increasing access to comprehensive care

    • Prevention

      Expanding programs to promote health and prevent disease

    • Academic excellence

      Enhancing academic excellence through program and campus development

    • Educational access and success

      Increasing educational access and supporting a learning environment that promotes achievement

    • Campus and community engagement

      Promoting a culture of service, collaboration and engagement among schools and communities

    • Rural church development

      Building the infrastructure and capacity of United Methodist churches to enhance ministry and mission

    • Clergy leadership

      Strengthening United Methodist churches by improving the quality and effectiveness of church leadership

    • Congregational outreach

      Engaging United Methodist congregations in programs that serve their communities