Frequently Asked Questions about Ministries
A. Heartbeat offers a resource called A Vision for Your Organization that will assist you in the beginning stages of opening a non-profit organization. The manual includes, How to Start a Life Affirming Services Organization, which includes 15 important steps; How a Healthy Resource Center Functions, Who does what as Your Center Grows and Ages, and Starting and Supporting an International Pregnancy Center Outside the United States.
Those starting a center receive complimentary first year affiliation along with discount pricing on resources. Affiliates have access to consultation by phone and/or email. Our affiliates receive special discounts on training, consultations and conferences as well. Affiliates receive newsletters and email blasts with updates on important information that PRC’s need to know. Affiliation with Heartbeat also puts you on “Option Line” www.optionline.org (See question on Option Line below).
We also suggest that you go to OptionLine.org, click on “find a center,” and enter your zip code to see if/what other organizations exist in your area and network with them as you pursue starting a ministry so as to not compete with funding resources in the area. Sometimes we find that a group may wish to open a center in an area where another center has been strategically planning and praying to open. You may actually be the answer to another center's prayers.
When you inform us that your center is open we will then include your information in the worldwide directory (and on Option Line if you are an affiliate).
A. Heartbeat International® is the first network of pro-life pregnancy resource centers in the U.S. and the most expansive in the world. Since 1971, Heartbeat has supported, strengthened and started 2,000 pregnancy help locations on every inhabited continent to provide alternatives to abortion.
We are a nonprofit, interdenominational Christian association of faith-based pregnancy resource centers, medical clinics, maternity homes, and nonprofit adoption agencies endorsed by Christian leaders nationwide.
Heartbeat is what is known as a federation. It is a looser type of association. Members must adhere to 5 basic principles and all other matters of policy and management are up to the local Board of Directors. Centers are encouraged to be entrepreneurial and are seen as the experts in their particular community. Reporting statistics is not required but an annual survey, including stats, is requested.
Pregnancy centers are encouraged to use a statement of faith with which they feel comfortable. Many use statements that reflect orthodox Christianity such as the Nicene Creed. Samples are supplied upon request of an interdenominational statement of faith that focuses on being inclusive rather than exclusive.
Those who want direction and resources but place a high value on being independent in decision making will enjoy affiliation with Heartbeat.
Heartbeat International was founded in 1971 by the first pregnancy help centers in the country, who wanted their own affiliation organization, and it’s first name was Alternatives to Abortion (soon changed to Alternatives to Abortion International or AAI). AAI described itself as “non-denominational and non-sectarian.” When key Evangelical leaders joined the pro-life movement in the mid 1970’s, AAI supported their efforts to found a pro-life organization with an explicit Evangelical statement of faith. This organization was named Christian Action Council (now called Care Net). To learn how to start pregnancy help centers, the Executive Director of Christian Action Council, Curt Young, was invited to serve on the AAI Board (now Heartbeat International), and he did for 3 ½ years. Christian Action Council (now Care Net) started its first pregnancy help center in 1981.
Heartbeat International and Care Net share common cause in inspiring and equipping Christian communities in the establishment of pregnancy help centers that reach the vulnerable and rescue the innocent. In addition, we partnered together for nine years on a joint venture that founded and developed Option Line, as well as several joint publications like Medical Perspectives and Legal Solutions. Such cooperative efforts serve our common goals in a Great Work that saves lives and changes lives by the power of the Gospel at work in and through us.
Care Net and Heartbeat are not identical, however. Heartbeat International's distinctives include:
Heartbeat International is international in scope. (Reference Matthew 28:19 and Acts 1:8) From its inception, Heartbeat, then called Alternatives to Abortion International (or AAI), recognized that alternatives to abortion were going to be needed worldwide as abortion was a global tragedy. Heartbeat has affiliates on every inhabited continent and travel regularly to each in support of our global mission and our international partners. Care Net only has affiliates in the U.S. and Canada.
Heartbeat International trains and supports leaders for a broad range of life-affirming affiliates including pregnancy help centers (medical and non-medical), maternity homes, non-profit adoption agencies, abortion recovery efforts, social services, and others who align with our Christ-centered mission, values, and principles. Care Net concentrates on pregnancy help centers.
Heartbeat International is founded upon historic Christian orthodoxy as recognized in the Nicene Creed and/or the Apostle’s Creed. Heartbeat purposely integrates passionate pro-life proponents from all Christendom (Protestant, Charismatic, Evangelical, Catholic, Orthodox, and non-denominational) at every level of Heartbeat (board, leadership, staff, and consultants), and in its training and materials. The development or adoption of a particular statement of faith is a matter left to each independent affiliate of Heartbeat. Care Net is organized as an Evangelical ministry, requiring agreement with an adaptation of the National Association of Evangelical's Statement of Faith for all Board members, staff and volunteers and extends this requirement to all their affiliates', Board, staff and volunteers.
Heartbeat International ministry philosophy is intentionally grassroots, bottom-up, innovative and entrepreneurial. We have a few non-negotiable requirements for affiliation (see our Principles of Affiliation). We highlight effective models of ministry arising from our affiliates for our affiliates to imitate and adapt further. Heartbeat trains in best practices but avoids setting required policies and procedures or establishing rigid reporting requirements. Care Net is known for more of a “franchise” approach, with specific requirements, reporting, and use of Care Net resources, and services.
Heartbeat International embraces the call to promote a culture of life among our clients, constituents, communities, and countries. This philosophy of ministry brings us to extend our work beyond core compassion outreach services to include influencing our cultures at large. We fulfill this in partnership with our affiliates, in part, by interacting with government at various levels (for example, in our Babies Go To Congress program), impacting public policy, and calling clients and our culture to true reproductive health. The latter is embodied in our unique Sexual Integrity Program which introduces a model for sexual wholeness for use in pregnancy help efforts to promote healthy and life-affirming choices regarding sexuality.
A. Heartbeat offers several resources that will assist you in this process. Medical Essentials for Pregnancy Help Organizations helps centers explore the question, "Should we expand in this area?" with its guidance on evaluating the rationale for offering medical services. Heartbeat is with you through this Manual as you look at the needs of your community as well as the benefits, issues, and resource requirements of a medical pregnancy center.
To offer ultrasound you must first become a medical clinic – meaning that you have a Medical Director who is a D.O. or/and M.D. You operate under his/her licensure. You will need insurance to operate a medical clinic.
Your center will need an ultrasound tech, a trained nurse, or other trained health professional as approved by your state regulations and your medical director to perform the ultrasounds.
You may also wish to find a center in your area that offers medical services and tour their facility. They may be able to walk you through the transition quickly by sharing their process and their policies and procedures.
A. Heartbeat International has a manual that was written just for you. DIRECT Well equips new Directors and refreshes seasoned Directors for effective day-to-day operations. Once a year we offer the New Director track at Institute for Center Effectiveness for Directors with three years of experience or less. The training provides an opportunity for you to network with other Directors, learn important responsibilities, and get your questions answered. The annual Heartbeat conference is also a great opportunity to learn and grow as a PRC Director.
We also offer manuals on Employee Policies, and Sample Policies and Procedures for Pregnancy Centers. You can read more about these and other resources in the Resource Catalog. You will also receive a copy when you affiliate.
A. The Board has the full responsibility of the organization. Heartbeat has developed a resource called GOVERN Well for Board members and the Executive Director. The manual explains the six proven areas of governance that successful Boards use. GOVERN Well supports the spiritual growth of Board Members who lead by radiating our Christ-based vision of a bright future to everyone touched by the organization. Center Directors tell us that they and their Board Members not only read this Manual, they study it and keep it at hand for ready reference.
As a Board member we offer you consultation by phone and email as well as encourage you to take advantage of the trainings and conferences we offer throughout the year.
A. One of the keys to resolving conflicts is to understand and follow the spheres of authority in your organization. For example, it should be made clear that the full Board is the “boss” of the Executive Director. Individual Board members should not be giving directives to the Executive Director. The staff should also be aware that if they experience conflicts they go to the Executive Director or their supervisor, not the Board. Clear boundaries are extremely important. GOVERN Well addresses this issue.
We offer consultation by phone and email and encourage you to call so we can assist you and direct you to helpful resources. Heartbeat recommends that you to have a conflict resolution policy in place and follow the pattern set out in Mathew 18. We also have staff trained in Peacemaker’s Ministry that can help in biblical conflict resolution.
A. It is important that clients be appropriately notified before receiving services that the center’s promise of confidentiality is subject to certain exceptions. The following statement may be inserted on client services forms to provide this notice: “All information shared by you during your relationship as a client with the center will be kept in strictest confidence except as required by law or as required for the protection of you or others".
We recommend that your center carefully review state requirements to determine the scope of your reporting responsibilities as related to statutory rape. A good resource for the laws in this area is located at: http://www.childwelfare.gov/systemwide/laws_policies/statutes/manda.cfm. You can type in your state to see what the law is in your state and can further narrow your search to select those topics that are of interest to you (i.e. who is a mandatory reporter, how is abuse/neglect defined, etc.)
Heartbeat also recommends that you also check with your local attorney to understand the laws in your state regarding this issue.
A. Option Line is a program of Heartbeat International, with the toll-free number 1 (800) 712-HELP, and website optionline.org available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week via e-mail, instant message and telephone. Originally a joint venture with Care Net from 2003-2012, this outreach has responded to more than 2 million contacts. Option Line refers each contact to a pregnancy help center near them for life-affirming services (including pregnancy tests, ultrasound, material aid) and/or answers to questions about abortion, adoption, parenting, medical referrals, housing, and many other issues.
In order to receive calls, appointments (via Plus Link) and referrals from Option Line, a service provider must be a current affiliate Heartbeat International and follow the national standard Commitment of Care and Competence. Currently, Care Net affiliates in good standing are also listed as an extension of our previous joint venture.
A. Extend Web Services is a web hosting and design service specifically for pregnancy help organizations operated as a program of Heartbeat International. Extend Web Services provides affordable options for outreach to clients as well as supporter sites. Whether you need the simplest and easiest way to reach clients or dynamic personalized options, the Extend product line provides numerous options.
Extend products have a medically accurate managed content and have the unique opportunity to be linked via the Option Line website. Their services are available regardless of affiliation with Heartbeat International.
A. As a Heartbeat affiliate, you have the opportunity to become part of the Option Line. However, affiliation does not automatically place you on the network. If you are a Heartbeat or Care Net affiliate and your center is NOT currently listed on Option Line, here is a list of possible reasons as to why your center does not show up in the search:
- Your affiliation with Heartbeat and/or Care Net has lapsed.
- Option Line has not received your Option Line Survey(download the survey).
- Your center has not fully adopted the Commitment of Care and Competence.
- Your center is located outside of the U.S. and Canada
If you meet all the requirements and your center is still not listed, please contact Heartbeat or call the Option Line business office at 614-802-2808.
A. Heartbeat International does not promote birth control (devices or medications) for family planning, population control, or health issues, including disease prevention. All Heartbeat International policies and materials are consistent with Biblical principles and with orthodox Christian (Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox) ethical principles and teaching on the dignity of the human person and sanctity of human life.