About Us

Lutheran Child and Family Services is a non-profit, 501(c)3 certified organization and a partner-agency of the United Way of Central Indiana. For 135 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. Founded as an orphanage, LCFS has evolved throughout the years to meet the needs of the community. Today, our services include Lutherwood, a licensed Residential Treatment Facility that specializes in the care and treatment of Children ages 6-21 who exhibit behavioral or emotional impairments, the IMPACT Program, a residential treatment program for girls who have been victims of human trafficking, and Trinity House Independent Living Group Home, for young men aged 16-21 who are transitioning from the Foster system to the real world. In addition to these program, Lutherwood is also host to the Emergency Shelter Care, a dedicated dormitory for young adults whom the Department of Child Services has removed from their home. Through these program, LCFS provides treatment by highly trained staff who utilize a variety of evidence-based practices.
The 2Gen Model

The 2-Gen Model

Since our founding, LCFS has offered a wide array of social services; we have a long history of providing holistic care that addresses both the needs of children and the adults in their lives. This approach is now recognized as the “Two-Generation” (2-Gen) Approach. LCFS currently provides many of the elements of 2-Gen services and is continually evaluating programs and services to ensure that we can tailor our services to meet the evolving needs of the community. LCFS is a member of the Aspen Institute’s Ascend Network, a national network of providers, policymakers, researchers, and philanthropist working together to advance 2-Gen programming. For more information on the Aspen Institute and the 2-Gen Model, click here.

Our History

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 South 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 Residential Treatment Center

Lutherwood is a secure treatment facility for children and teens who exhibit mental and behavioral health issues. Please note that we no longer accept private referrals.

The Sharing Place

The Sharing Place Hours of Operation have changed! Mondays 10am-3pm, Tuesdays 4pm-8pm, Thursdays 10am-3pm, 2nd Saturdays 10am-1pm 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

The IMPACT Program

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

Trinity House

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

Emergency Shelter Program

Emergency Shelter Care provides 24-hour a day temporary care for adolescents 12-17 years old who find themselves in crisis situations.

Community Based Services

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.

Lutherwood Society

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