Today’s Front Line Hero: Lutheran Family Services of Virginia

May 19, 2020

Today’s Front Line Hero is Lutheran Family Services of Virginia (LFSVA), which is dedicated to ensuring children in their community have the resources they need during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lutheran Family Services of Virginia has been providing support and services to children, families, and adults for 130 years. Their services include helping children in foster care find temporary or permanent families, adoption counseling, services for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and supporting children with behavioral challenges. Though COVID-19 has changed the way LFSVA delivers services, they have been committed to continuing to support their community with services through telehealth.

One of the ways LFSVA supports children with behavioral challenges is through their six Minnick Schools across the commonwealth, which help students age 5 to 22 find success in the classroom. The Minnick Schools offer highly trained educators and treatment specialists to meet unique needs of many children the public educational system cannot address. In addition to teaching the state’s educational curriculum, the Minnick Schools help students learn about behavior choices, how to make positive decisions, and how to respond to stress and challenging situations.

Though the Minnick Schools are closed in accordance with Virginia Governor Ralph Northam’s order, the teachers are still committed to serving the students. Many families are struggling with food security during the COVID-19 pandemic, so Minnick School teachers have been delivering food to their students. The teachers are wearing masks and keeping safe distances from the students while they work to ensure children in their community have the resources they need.

Thank you to LFSVA for your commitment to ensuring your community is resourced by offering telehealth services and food delivery!

Today’s Front Line Hero: Lutheran Life Villages

May 20, 2020

Today’s Front Line Hero is Lutheran Life Villages, which is committed to keeping seniors healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lutheran Life Villages is a senior living facility with four campuses in Northeast Indiana. In addition to an array of senior living options, Lutheran Life Villages offers creative programming such as no contact boxing for individuals living with Parkinson’s disease, and a Foster Grandparent program, which matches seniors with low-income children in the community who are at risk of falling behind in school. They are committed to holistic care for seniors, and to building intergenerational relationships in the community.

Lutheran Life Villages recognizes the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the enhanced risk for seniors and individuals with chronic conditions. To keep their residents safe, Lutheran Life Villages is taking necessary precautions, including restricting access, monitoring staff health, increasing their inventory of medical supplies, and communicating regularly with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and their local and state health departments. The increased need for personal protective equipment is unprecedented, and Lutheran Life Villages is working to obtain needed supplies. President and CEO Alex Kiefer is forging new partnerships to gain those supplies, and has made trips to car manufacturing plants to pick up gowns and other supplies that are otherwise difficult to find.

Thank you to Lutheran Life Villages for your dedication to the seniors in your community!

Lutheran Services in America Participates in the Child Welfare Provider Innovation Network

May 20, 2020

Lutheran Services in America and a robust collection of national partners and community-based nonprofits have been invited by The Annie E. Casey Foundation and Casey Family Programs to participate in the new Child Welfare Provider Innovation Network. In addition to participants from Lutheran Services in America’s national office in D.C., 18 leaders from 13 community-based Lutheran provider organizations from across the nation have been invited to engage in this collaborative network.

The Child Welfare Provider Innovation Network is a weekly conversation that brings together direct service provider leaders to explore how innovation developed during the COVID-19 crisis can be transformed into lasting solutions for children, youth and families. The weekly conversations include interactive presentations by peer thought leaders, sharing of critical knowledge and tools, and facilitated conversations applying the real-time lessons of the COVID-19 crisis into actionable, long-term change.

Nationally, Lutheran Services in America’s network of 100 children, youth and family serving organizations impact 12,000 children in foster care and 40,000 children and family members across 43 states in 363 cities and 523 locations. Our goal is to ensure that all children live in safe, stable and permanent family homes. For the sake of our nation’s future, it is critically important that we work together to identify and support solutions that move us closer to this goal as we navigate and emerge from this crisis. We are grateful to The Annie E. Casey Foundation and Casey Family Programs for their vision and leadership in bringing together this strong network of leaders to envision the path to lasting solutions for children, youth and families.

Today’s Front Line Hero: Lutheran Social Services of New York

May 21, 2020

Today’s Front Line Hero is Lutheran Social Services of New York (LSSNY), which is recognizing the unsung heroes of the pandemic.

Lutheran Social Services of New York has been operating at the heart of the pandemic over the last few months, and has continued its much-needed services during the crisis. LSSNY continues to serve its community, including the formerly homeless, people struggling with addiction, the newcomer, people living with mental illness, families who are food insecure, and children in foster care. Though many services remain closed as New York battles COVID-19, LSSNY feels its duty is to meet the community’s needs by providing essential support during the pandemic.

We often hear about the work and sacrifices of medical workers on the front lines, but we rarely hear about the hard work and essential services of maintenance workers, case managers, custodial workers, and childcare providers. LSSNY CEO Damyn Kelly is making a concerted effort to recognize the work of the unsung heroes during the COVID-19 pandemic. LSSNY is highlighting essential workers with profiles on its website and in newsletters, and elevating the workers’ commitment to service. Custodial workers, for example, are crucial to the health and safety of the community. However, they cannot work from home, and are risking their health and safety to ensure the virus does not spread. LSSNY case managers are on the front lines, making sure that vulnerable populations in New York have the resources they need, especially during these trying times.

“I have always told staff that they were essential and that it was because of them that we [LSSNY] existed,” said Kelly. “So as a result, when the governor announced the Stay in Place order…calling our workers essential, I immediately sent out an email to the staff saying the governor has recognized what I’ve been telling you since the beginning.”

Thank you to LSSNY for your continued service in New York, and for recognizing the unsung heroes who make that service possible.

Today’s Front Line Hero: Lutheran Social Services of South Dakota

May 22, 2020

Today’s Front Line Hero is Lutheran Social Services of South Dakota, which is providing translation services at drive-thru COVID-19 testing sites.

When Smithfield Foods saw a COVID-19 outbreak at their plant in Sioux Falls, SD, the state, Avera Medical Group, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the South Dakota National Guard worked together to set up a drive-thru test site in a local high school parking lot. The collaboration recognized the importance of protective gear to keep the testing site workers and patients safe, but there were other important factors to ensure the testing site was successful.

The Sioux Falls COVID-19 drive-thru testing site had a full fleet of interpreters present, including Lutheran Social Services of South Dakota case worker, Adane Redda. Redda is originally from Ethiopia, and speaks several languages. The interpreters were crucial in collecting important information about each patient, and bridging gaps in communications. Redda said he finds this work rewarding, and is glad to be helpful during the COVID-19 outbreak. Public health officials were grateful for the interpreters from Lutheran Social Services, and anticipate that drive-thru testing sites will become more prevalent, and they will continue to value the important work of language interpreters.

Thank you to Lutheran Social Services of South Dakota for serving your community’s various needs through the COVID-19 pandemic, and for working to ensure that everyone, regardless of language has access to care!

Today’s Front Line Hero: Advocate Aurora Health

May 26, 2020

Today’s Front Line Hero is Advocate Aurora Health for their research contributions, adding to academic knowledge about the novel COVID-19 virus.

A team of 5 cardiac sonographers at Aurora St. Luke’s Medical Center have been working on the front lines during COVID-19, and recognized that ICU procedures to detect impacts of the virus on the heart were inefficient. The team started investigating how the virus affects the heart by personally scanning patients in the COVID-19 ICU. They developed an innovative new procedure that is more targeted, and more accurately identifies deadly symptoms. The new procedure collects better patient data faster, improving patient care and limiting the exposure of caregivers. The Advocate team published their findings, and are writing the worldwide standard for treating COVID-19 patients with cardiac systems.

Advocate Aurora Health researchers are also contributing to efforts to better understand COVID-19 outcomes for cancer patients. An Advocate researcher co-authored a recent study, and will release early data on outcomes for cancer patients at the upcoming virtual American Society of Clinical Oncology conference. The consortium of cancer researchers crowdsourced the data, allowing for speed in releasing the results of the study.

Thank you to Advocate Aurora Health for your dedication to serving patients during the COVID-19 pandemic, and for your work contributing to the global understanding of the novel virus.

Today’s Front Line Hero: Liberty Lutheran

May 27, 2020

Today’s Front Line Hero is Liberty Lutheran and their dedicated staff at the Artman senior living community.

Liberty Lutheran’s Artman senior living community is located in Ambler, Pennsylvania. Founded in 1916 as Artman Lutheran Home, the community stands as a leader in personal care and skilled nursing services that draw from a rich faith-based tradition of high-quality compassionate care. As part of the Liberty Lutheran family of services, Artman is also proud to have been included on U.S. News and World Report’s Best Short-Term Rehabilitation list.

At Artman, residents are encouraged to live life to the fullest every day. With this in mind, the staff goes above and beyond to surpass the expectations of residents and family members. By emphasizing possibilities, not limitations, the team at Artman builds positive relationships with residents and families that create a sense of warmth and family.

This type of dedication and commitment has been reinforced since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Over the past several months, Artman has instituted a series of practices and procedures to keep residents safe within their homes, while also providing fulfilling opportunities for residents to do from within their apartments.

“I am so grateful to the team here at Artman,” says Artman’s executive director, Janet Lorenzon. “We are truly blessed to have the support of so many talented and caring people. I see the impact they make in the smiles and positive attitudes of our residents. We are getting through these extraordinary times together thanks to the contributions of so many.”

Thank you to the staff at Artman for personifying compassion and care for the people you serve and for one another. Lutheran Services in America is proud to highlight your work as a source for home and peace of mind for older adults and their families.

HHS Publishes Lutheran Services in America Article on Transforming Child Welfare

August 19, 2020

The official e-magazine for the Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families published an article by Lutheran Services in America’s Sheila Weber about how the intersection of several devastating realities in our society are having a disparate impact on Black people, indigenous populations, and people of color in America, particularly children. Part of the solution to this issue involves shifting our thinking from how to protect children in families that are in crisis to creating societal conditions that equitably protect and strengthen families.

Lutheran Services in America’s Results Innovation Lab is activating our members serving children, youth, and families to stabilize families in their communities so that families remain intact and children do not enter out-of-home care. Furthermore, we are calling for much-needed state and federal investments in primary prevention efforts that strengthen families’ protective capacities and factors.

Read the complete article published by Children’s Bureau Express (CBX).

Nonprofits Must Have Support in New Economic Recovery and Infrastructure Package

May 4, 2021

Congress is currently preparing an economic recovery package based on the “American Jobs Plan” proposed by President Biden to improve America’s physical and social infrastructure and help move the economy forward and out of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Lawmakers are negotiating with the Administration and crafting the legislative language for this bill now.

While details of what will be included in the final bill are subject to change as the process moves forward, we are asking Members of Congress to support the following significant provisions for our network currently being considered:

  • $400 billion for home and community-based services (HCBS) for older adults and persons with disabilities.  This unprecedented investment in these services could enable health and human services providers to expand services and eliminate the nationwide waitlist of 850,000 older adults and persons with disabilities so they can receive needed services in their homes and communities. This could also help address the workforce shortage, for example, through increased wages and benefits for direct care workers. Finally, it would allow expansion of the Money Follows the Person program and for older adults transitioning from acute care setting to their homes to receive the services needed to prevent rehospitalization such as transportation, nutrition, and more.
  • $213 billion for affordable housing and homelessness services to produce, preserve, and retrofit more than two million affordable and sustainable places to live, address longstanding public housing capital needs, and eliminate exclusionary zoning and harmful land use policies.
  • Inclusion of the provisions of the WORK NOW Act (S. 740): this $50 billion grant program will provide nonprofit health and human services organizations funding to pay wages, salaries and benefits to retain staff, meet the greater demand for services, and hire unemployed workers.

More information can be found in our detailed summary.

Join us by sending a message to lawmakers: please support provisions currently under consideration which would benefit nonprofit health and human services providers. While we will continue to advocate that ALL our crucial priorities for further support for nonprofits be enacted, it’s important for lawmakers to hear our voice now as they prepare the current legislation.

Senate Democrats Unveil $3.5 Trillion Budget Reconciliation Package, Seek Support of Caucus

July 16, 2021

Following the unveiling Tuesday of the broad outline of a $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation package that would enact many of the “human infrastructure” provisions included in President Biden’s American Jobs Plan and American Families Plan, most Senate Democrats reacted positively. More time will be needed, however, to secure the support of all 50 Senate Democrats for a fiscal year 2022 budget resolution, the first step in passing the package via the filibuster-proof reconciliation process.


Conservatives, including Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), continue to take issue with the cost of the legislation, while progressives have expressed concern that the bill does not spend enough money on key priorities like childcare. While the initial outline for the package does not contain much detail on individual policy provisions or specific dollar amounts for programs that it includes, it does contain language indicating that the President’s proposed expansion of home- and community-based services (HCBS) will be included.


Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said Wednesday he is still confident that the Senate will adopt the budget resolution, as well as pass a separate bipartisan traditional infrastructure bill that will require 60 votes to move through regular order, before the chamber departs for its August recess. House leadership also hopes to pass the budget resolution before August, with work and passage on the substantive legislation itself to come in the fall.


Lutheran Services in America continues to advocate in support of key provisions of the President’s proposals, particularly the $400 billion home and community-based services (HCBS) investment (which is outlined in the Better Care Better Jobs Act, S. 2210/H.R. 4131) and a provision for $213 billion for affordable housing and homelessness services, and is urging the inclusion of the WORK NOW Act legislation (S. 740) to provide nonprofit health and human services organizations funding to pay wages, salaries, and benefits to retain staff and meet services’ demand.