Thursday, December 10, 2009

Church Daycares

Before I start, let me say that I know this topic can be a sensitive one. For most of my posts and this one in particular, I can understand both sides of the argument, and I respect and admire many of the people who hold the opposing view. My intent is not to alienate those who disagree with me but rather to offer a rarely voiced perspective in order to encourage readers to reexamine prevailing viewpoints.


My son goes to a church-run preschool. I am thankful for a program that teaches him social skills, numbers and letters, art, music, and Bible stories all in one. I see Christian preschools as close cousins of Sunday schools. (In fact, our preschool offers a free “Monday school” each week as an outreach to the community.)

To many people, church-run daycares are synonymous with church-run preschools. I don’t believe, however, that they are as closely related as they appear to be. The emphasis of a daycare is usually on taking care of physical needs more than educational needs, and daycares serve as a substitute for a parent’s presence rather than as a supplement to what parents are teaching at home.

Churches usually start daycares with honorable intentions. Many North American children come from a single-parent home or a home where both parents have full-time jobs and need a daycare provider. Churches reason that by running a daycare, they are meeting needs in the community while having the opportunity to introduce children to Christian principles. The parents may feel so comfortable bringing their kids to daycare that they start to come to church, too, where they will also hear about Christ’s love for them. And, as an added bonus, the church has an additional source of income to support its other programs. (Unfortunately, I fear that this “bonus” – and not a prompting of the Holy Spirit – is too often the main reason churches start daycares.)

Daycare programs do meet an existing cultural need, but I wonder if churches with daycares take the easy way out in addressing this particular issue. Perhaps we should be trying to change the culture rather than responding to it. Instead of using our collective resources to offer daycare programs, why not build a support system for parents that fosters healthy marriages and emphasizes wise stewardship of funds, frugal living, and the value of time at home with young children so that more parents can afford to – and will choose to – stay home with their children during their earliest years? Instead of following our culture’s drive to achieve more worldly success, as measured by newer and more expensive belongings, why not encourage our communities to focus more on living humbly and giving generously?

It’s a radical idea, I know, but sometimes it takes a radical idea to change the world.

6 comments:

  1. Good points. However, I suspect that in most cases the churches' general operating funds are more likely subsidizing the daycare (rather than daycare income supporting other church programs.) Daycare programs are very expensive to run. Many government regulations have to be followed especially for (non-home) licensed daycares centers. Strict caregiver- to- child ratios prevent much income generation. In addition, the churches usually try to make the daycare more affordable for families, while caregivers are a bit higher paid when compared to the for- profit centers.

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  2. I think Heidi is right. I truly believe that most churches look at this as a ministry as well as good stewardship (making use of their facility rather than letting it sit empty all week). But, being a stay at home mom and a homeschooler as well, I'm obviously not a fan of daycare; so, I too wish that there was a better strategy for helping families in the ways you articulated.

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  3. Hey Shannon!

    I'm a little late posting, but I don't have any kids in daycare at church, so I had little to contribute. I talked to my pastor yesterday about church daycares (for personal tax reasons), and he said that they aren't allowed to take money for services they provide without losing their tax-exempt status. How does yours get around that?

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  4. I really don't know. We pay $50 per month, which is less than most preschools in the area (including other church preschools). I'm not sure how they handle it -- possibly the childcare is a separate legal entity from the church, but I do write the checks to the church.

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  5. I know people who have started a church in the (ghetto) hood. These people also have combined a church-run daycare. They are tax exempt and make a ton of money! They would never start a church in an educated side of town. It's harder to manipulate an educated person. Disadvantaged people are gullible and very easy to lead astray. There are many programs who assist the poor and these shysters know this. They use these free programs to increase their profits. The lady who runs things takes vacations to the Amazon. There is nothing wrong with a vacation to the Amazon, but when you brag that you take it off of church money, and then laugh about it! This lady works the system like playing a fine-tuned-violin. They get vouchers (guaranteed money from the state) to back their enterprise. They pay no taxes on this (enterprise) church-run daycare! They are running a money making enterprise. Poor folks are most gullible to these (fraud) schemes. They need hope and a reason to live. This lady is a master at selling false hope in disadvantaged areas. She's trying to get rich off of manipulating and using the poor. I pray the Internal Revenue Service catches all of these shysters. Beware: I will report every con artist I see doing these things! I will hire people to do surveillance and then report you to the police. It is a crime to falsely manipulate the poor in this way. This is quite common in poor areas. I've seen it too many times. I've seen a preacher with a church and church-run daycare caught in the act of sexual misconduct. His books were audited and it was found that corruption ran rampant! It was found that he was transferring church assets into his name to work private business deals. This preacher had rental homes, a daycare, and other valuable assets that belonged to the church. Not him! There is a great need for helping poor folks, but these con men are wise to the game. I think the Internal Revenue Service is catching on to these things. It's about time!

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  6. At best a Church should charge 50% less than the public sector private business charges for daycare as the church does not support the city infrastructure with tax money. That being police, fire and roads. These people are making BIG money while you and I pay our fair share. The church over here has a preacher livin the good life driving around in his Corvette. Obviously eats well too. The IRS needs to look at this really bad as its not fair to use Gods house for secular business. Didnt Jesus get pissed off and turn over a bunch of tables in the tabernacle and tell everyone they was using the house of worship for the wrong thing?

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Thanks for your comments! Agree or disagree, but please comment respectfully.