The Bible societies of St. Paul’s Lutheran and Trinity Lutheran churches founded Lutheran Child and Family Services (LCFS) in 1883. LCFS was originally “an asylum for orphans and aged people.” The first orphanage, incorporated under the name of Evangelische Lutherische Waisenhaus Gesellschaft, was a nine-room residence on East Washington Street, housing three orphan children, foster parents, and staff. In 1893, LCFS moved into a new building, where it remained until after World War II.

Children on a swing set outside the Evangelical Lutheran Orphan Home, 1944 Credit: Indiana Historical Society View Source

The agency became the Evangelical Lutheran Orphans’ Home Association and in 1945, the Lutheran Child Welfare Association of Indiana. “Lutherwood,” a multi-building complex and 12-acre site at East 16th Street and Ritter Avenue, opened in 1956. Since that time, several additional building projects have transformed the campus with its award-winning buildings.

In 1981, the agency became Lutheran Child and Family Services of Indiana and Kentucky. The campus expanded in the 1990s, then completely rebuilt in 2004 on the same grounds.

Lutherwood includes intensive home-based serves, family preservation, and emergency shelter care. LCFS specializes in the care and treatment of children ages 6-21 who exhibit behavioral or emotional impairments, a residential treatment program for girls who have been victims of human trafficking, and a group home for young men aged 16-21 who are transitioning from the foster system to independence. The specialized treatment for abused, neglected, and emotionally traumatized children from all around the State of Indiana. This important work includes parents and families. The “Sharing Place” provides food and children’s clothing to people living in Lawrence Township and the Eastside of Indianapolis.

LCFS maintains a commitment to its faith-based founding. Lutheran Child and Family Services is a recognized service organization of both the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. LCFS responds to the spiritual needs of both residents and staff through its Spiritual Engagement Education and Development program.

Financial support for its annual budget of approximately $8 million comes primarily from Lutheran congregations, organizations, and individuals, and from government contracts. LCFS also receives support from the United Way and local foundations. Annually, LCFS assists over 50,000 children and families.

Revised March 2021

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