For 133 years, in some form or another, Lutheran Child and Family Services has been providing programs of compassionate care and counsel to those in our community who need it most. In 1883, German Lutherans of the congregations of Trinity Lutheran (now located on the East Side at 8540 E 16th St.) and St. Paul’s Lutheran Church (now on the West Side, at 3932 MiCasa Ave.) convened to decide what to do about caring for the growing number of orphans in the area. It was decided that funds should be raised with the help of area churches to purchase land at 3310 E. Washington Street, where construction of an orphanage was completed by 1886. The Rev. Peter Seuel, born in Germany in 1826, was appointed as president of what was then called das Evangelisch Lutherische Waisenhaus-Gesellschaft, and would later be known as the Evangelical Lutheran Orphan Home Association. By 1893, the Home had served 122 children, and construction was underway on the second home. Most of our information during this time comes from the Indianapolis Tribüne, a long defunct German language newspaper. But as anti-German sentiment increased during the First World War, and many German families living in America ceased teaching their children German language and culture, our predecessors decided to rename the organization in English. Today, in honor and recognition of our founders and the rich history of the City of Indianapolis, LCFS hosts and sponsors many German Heritage events.
The Great Depression and Second World War were trying times for the Association. If not for dedicated community members and faithful congregations, without the generosity of local farmers, we may not have been able to feed, clothe and keep the children warm. After the war, the orphanage helped to relocate European children displaced by the violence, and worked to find younger children foster homes in Lutheran families around the state, or, in the case of the older children, helped them to graduate from high school and find jobs or apprenticeships.
Sometime after the war, the name was changed to the Lutheran Child Welfare Association. In 1951, purchased the property at the corner of 16th Street and Ritter Avenue, on which LCFS currently sits. By 1953, after funds were raised and many letters exchanged between realtors, board members, and construction agencies, construction began on what would be called Lutherwood, a 3-unit complex which would serve the organizations needs for the next half-century.
The turn of the millennia marked a time of great change for Lutheran Child and Family Services, as mental and behavioral health practices and ideas changed with the times. In 1996, Lutherwood was expanded and construction on a new secure dormitory, a gymnasium, kitchen and dining hall was completed. In 2004, the now fifty-year-old Lutherwood was torn down and replaced with what stands as LCFS today: six secure dormitories capable of housing 98 children, the chapel and administrative building.
In 2013, LCFS began a collaboration with Community Health Network in a management and services arrangement that has strengthened and enhanced the level of care for children suffering from complex traumatic and behavioral issues. The children who are assisted by LCFS now have access to a larger and more diverse network of trained behavioral healthcare specialists at Community Health Network to oversee the healthcare needs of the children.
Today, we are pleased to carry on the work of the German immigrants who came before us, and to carry on their hope to link children, their families and the community together for a brighter future. We hope you will join us.
Lutherwood is a licensed Psychiatric Residential Treatment Facility (PRTF) that specializes in the care and treatment of children who exhibit chronic behavioral and/or emotional problems. Read more about Lutherwood
The Sharing Place is a material assistance program which provides free food and clothing to families in need. Located in Lawrence Township, on the far East Side of Indianapolis, the Sharing Place is staffed by our wonderful and talented volunteers recruited from the community and local congregations. Read more about the Sharing Place
IMPACT is a collaborative effort between Ascent 121, LCFS and Community Hospital to provide comprehensive care coordination and intensive therapeutic services for minor females who are at risk of elopement and human trafficking. Read more about the IMPACT Program
Lutherwood Academy offers residents of Lutherwood Residential Treatment Center the opportunity to attend a full day of school within a secure, treatment-centered environment. Read more about Lutherwood Academy
Emergency Shelter Care provides 24-hour a day temporary care for adolescents 12-17 years old who find themselves in crisis situations.
We provide services to families involved with the Department of Child Services (DCS) and Juvenile Probation to help maintain children in their homes (or foster homes) or safely reunify families. Community Based Services include case work, therapy services, parent aid and counseling, as well as 24/7 crisis intervention and advocacy.
Trinity House is a group home for young men ages 14-21 with a focus on teaching and enhancing independent living skills and fostering resilience. Read more about Trinity House
The Lutherwood Society is a circle of faithful friends and donors who have committed to serve as a consistent, stabilizing force for the services and programs of LCFS through ongoing philanthropic support, in order to ensure our organization's future as a ballast in the city of Indianapolis. Read more about the Lutherwood Society
Spiritual Engagement, Education and Development: since its founding days, Lutheran Child and Family Services has always placed a high priority on the spiritual component of the children's lives. Read more about SEED