Thank you for your interest in starting a Care Net Pregnancy Center. The Care Net team is available to answer your questions and support you by providing information you may need in order to get started on your highly-rewarding journey. Once you have determined to move forward with developing a new center, we recommend Care Net's How to Start a CPC manual, which can serve as a guide for the start-up process. This resource can be ordered through our online bookstore.
Care Net also highly recommends that new centers connect with a New Center Development Consultant early in the development process. These experienced specialists provide ongoing phone and email consultations, as well as onsite training in all areas of center development, including board, staff, and operational issues. A list of qualified consultants is available by contacting Care Net via the form to the right.
First Steps to Starting a Care Net Pregnancy Center
From the time interest is generated in the development of a pregnancy center in a community, until the door of the center first opens, several crucial developmental steps must take place. These steps are usually accomplished in an average of eighteen months, though this timeframe varies across communities. The following is a brief description of the first critical steps.
1. Review Care Net’s Affiliation Standards & Apply for Provisional Affiliation
Your board of directors may apply for provisional affiliation with Care Net after it has completed the incorporation process within its state and fully reviewed Care Net’s Affiliation Standards. While full affiliation is not granted until after the center has opened to clients, provisional affiliation allows the pregnancy center access to important operational manuals that will greatly enhance the developmental process. Provisional affiliation is granted to developing centers only. If you are interested in becoming a provisional affiliate, please complete the Notice of Intent to Affiliate form and send to email@example.com.
To request additional information, submit email firstname.lastname@example.org.
2. Determine a Need
The first step is determining a need. A listing of existing pregnancy centers already offering services can be found here. This critical information will help you understand what services are already being offered in your area. If a pregnancy center already exists, Care Net recommends open communication with this center. If there is a center in the same city or county, you should meet with their director and board to share your vision and intentions and to ensure you will not be duplicating services already offered. If this is the case, you might consider joining forces with an existing center to help them open a satellite office in your neighborhood. This can be a great blessing to both groups. A large city or county with a wide population base can often support several centers.
3. Build a Steering Committee
From the time of its first meeting, the core group should function as an “ad hoc” committee with a chairman, secretary and treasurer. This procedural matter is important; it circumvents problems down the line in development when questions are raised as to who is in charge and what has been decided. Majority votes of the steering committee should determine the direction of the entire committee. The steering committee should be comprised of five to nine members. Recruiting individuals to serve as members of the steering committee can be accomplished through an open meeting sponsored by area churches interested in supporting a pregnancy center ministry. As an educational and motivational event, the meeting is useful in generating interest in the ministry.4. Incorporate and Apply for Tax Exempt Status
It is important that pregnancy centers incorporate under the laws of their state and receive tax-exempt status from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Without incorporation, it is impossible to receive tax-exempt status and without tax-exempt status (specifically, the official determination that donations to your organization are tax-deductible) it is nearly impossible to raise enough funds to operate. Incorporation also limits legal liability for board members and officers in the event of a lawsuit against the center.
Because each state has different requirements and methods for incorporating and the IRS requires certain information to appear in articles of incorporation, we recommend that an attorney be involved in the incorporation process.
Please keep in mind that Care Net is an affiliation organization, meaning only affiliated centers can use Care Net as part of their pregnancy center's name. If you are interested in this option please contact us at email@example.com to request permission.
5. Elect Board of Directors
Once incorporated, the legal governing body of the center is the board of directors. Generally, through the process of steering committee activities and survey compilation, interested individuals are found who would be good candidates for the board of directors.
The steering committee is responsible to secure the board of directors for the pregnancy center. It is incorrect to assume steering committee members should automatically assume the role of board members for the center. Board members are elected by a nominating committee. This committee is comprised of the appropriate steering committee members and other individuals who are not interested in serving on the board. Serving on the board of directors of the pregnancy center calls for a strong, ongoing commitment to the ministry in which individual steering committee members may not be prepared to make. Consequently, recruitment for board members may need to take place.
The board of directors is to be active and meet monthly. The board sets policy, evaluates programs and activities, hires and evaluates the pregnancy center director, and secures the funds necessary for the ministry to operate. In addition, the board of directors is directly responsible for committee functions that do not relate to the delivery of services to the clients (e.g., finance, education and research, public relations).
Additional information is available in Care Net’s Effective Board Leadership manual available in Care Net’s online bookstore.