"We want to reach out to the second- and third-shift homes," he said. "If welfare reform tells a mother or father that they have to go to work, the entry-level positions are usually on second and third shifts."
Plans for the center include 28 workers, a fenced playground and a security access system.
The center is the brainchild of the Rev. Garry Mebane, pastor of Calvary Church of God in Christ. He said he has been working to make it a reality since 1993, when he learned of a woman whose business travels allowed her to see her children only five days out of each month.
The need for decent child care is a growing concern among his congregation, Mebane said.
"That's the norm now. The husband and wife have to work now," he said.
As with any day care facility, cost is a big concern, officials said. Robert Fugate, a board member and the group's treasurer, said the organization projects that monthly fees will range from $280 for toddlers and $600 for infants.
But Fugate said the organization plans to aggressively pursue businesses that might want to reserve spaces for their employees' children. Those companies could pick up a portion of the cost, he said.
Once the center receives a state license, low-income parents could apply for state vouchers to pay part of the cost, Fugate said.
Speaking at a reception for the group at the Four-Points Hotel Thursday night, U.S. Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett, R-Md., praised the efforts of church members. Bartlett said such private philanthropy is needed as families attempt to comply with new federal rules that limit welfare.
Bartlett said the hours of operation make the center an even more attractive option.
"Almost no child-care center does what your child-care center is going to do," he said.
Bartlett said charitable efforts are a vast improvement over government-sponsored assistance.
"We have spent $6 trillion on the War on Poverty and poverty won," he said. "Work remains the best social program."
Hagerstown Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II said the child-care center could help fight crime by being a positive influence on the neighborhood.
"We are making strides in that area. If we continue striding, we're going to get to where we want to go," he said.