A Promise Made, A Promise Kept

March 18, 2020

Designated to advance strategic initiatives of our nationwide network, Lutheran Services in America’s “Realizing the Promise” fundraising campaign has surpassed its $500,000 goal! The campaign, scheduled to close June 30, 2020, grew ideas into dedicated action to change the lives of the one in 50 Americans our network cares for each year.

Through donors’ and member organizations’ incredible generosity throughout this campaign, our network strengthened Lutheran social ministry organizations to change the lives of 7,000 children through our Results Innovation Lab, via improvements like increased reading and graduation rates, and returning African American youth with their birth families, as well as decreased rates of teacher-student conflict; the number of times foster youth need to move to new homes; and arrest and re-arrest rates for over 700 youth of color.

Realizing the Promise also has meant making aggressive inroads in enabling seniors to live at home and in their community through our Connect-Home Learning Collaborative, committed to better preparing older adults to successfully transition home from post-acute care facilities. Importantly, the Realizing the Promise campaign also empowered us to bring together member organizations to successfully launch LSA Senior Connect, an innovative service model that connects seniors with chronic health conditions to needed resources in their communities, which already is delivering promising results in pilot stage with Genacross Lutheran Services.

This vital campaign’s success was bolstered through multi-year commitments from a wide range of people and organizations who share our commitment to the difference we can make – together – in the lives of so many people experiencing need in America. Thank you to the 39 member organizations who contributed dues above dues to support the campaign. Three leaders in particular from our network were among the first to step up and commit their support to Realizing the Promise, each of whose work ties to our key strategic areas of accelerating change, advocacy, and the power of networking:

Accelerating Change: Mark Pile, President & CEO of Diakon Lutheran Social Ministries

By working together across our network, we accomplish more than any one organization can by working on its own. As one of the first to step up and support the Realizing the Promise campaign, Diakon Lutheran Social Ministries President & CEO Mark Pile shares:

“I see my support and investment in Realizing the Promise as an opportunity to strengthen Lutheran social ministry across the U.S. The more we collectively work together – whether by sharing industry resources, lessons learned or creating new models to reach people with services who need them – the better the outcomes for the people we walk alongside. Our Lutheran tradition of service, for me, is grounded in the idea that the work we do at a local level is part of something bigger. Lutheran Services in America’s work to bring it together is not easy work, but brings great value to our organization and the people we serve here in Pennsylvania and Maryland.”

Advocacy: Linda Timmons, President and CEO of Mosaic

The voice of our faith-based network is more important now than ever. Mosaic President and CEO Linda Timmons shares her perspective:

“Strength in numbers has real meaning when it comes to amplifying our voice, our experience, and our collective expertise. Realizing the Promise has amped up Lutheran Services in America’s efforts with federal lawmakers and further honed their pulse on critical legislation affecting the one in 50 Americans we care for – lives ranging from children, youth and families to seniors, low-income individuals and people with disabilities. I’m grateful to everyone who joined Mosaic and me in supporting this campaign to advance our work as one national network, unleashing the power of our collective voice to advocate for policies affecting the one in 50 Americans we care for.”

The Power of Networking: Ted Goins, President & CEO of Lutheran Services Carolinas

Lutheran Services Carolinas President & CEO Ted Goins is a natural networker. He often brings ideas to Lutheran Services in America he thinks can benefit other members like a partnership with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, which led to the launch of our Connect-Home program involving additional members. Ted shares:

“I invested in the Realizing the Promise campaign because I see the power of collaborating with my fellow Lutheran social ministry organizations, and the ability of Lutheran Services in America to bring us together and create national partnerships that take us further than any of us can go on our own. I’m inspired to be part of something bigger than any one person or organization, and all that is possible as we journey together.”

Lutheran Family and Children’s Services Works to End the Cycle of Abuse for Generations of Missourians

April 1, 2020

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month and an opportunity to focus on our collective responsibility to end child abuse and neglect. Across the Unites States, there are approximately 674,000 substanitated cases of maltreatment every year – a number that has been slowly climbing over the last decade. To mitigate continued risk, prevention and intervention are essential.

“We have an obligation to the children and families in Missouri to reduce the rates if abuse and neglect in order to build better tomorrows for everyone in Missouri,” said Mike Duggar, President and CEO of Lutheran Family and Children’s Services of Missouri (LFCS). “Through our foster programs, LFCS helps children in unsafe situations find safe, and loving environments. We are also focused on abuse prevention programs. From pregnancy counseling to parenting education, we proactively equip participants with the skills and coping mechanisms needed to prevent the likelihood of child maltreatment.”

LFCS works to end the cycle of abuse across the state of Missouri through innovative and comprehensive programs, making generations of children and families safer and stronger together. Specialized prevention programs for at-risk expectant and young parents facilitate the pursuit of stable living conditions, higher education, and employment, as well as providing counseling and education to manage life stressors. LFCS intervention services include foster care case management, foster parent recruitment and training, and behavioral health. Collectively, these programs improve the well-being of over 38,000 Missourians each year.

Great strides are being made to end the cycle of abuse, but the work is far from over. According to the Missouri Department of Social Services Children’s Division 2019 Annual Report regarding child abuse and neglect, approximately 65,000 cases of abuse and neglect are reported each year across the state, involving approximately 90,000 children. LFCS believes it is everyone’s responsibility to promote safety, stability, and well-being for all children.

To create awareness, LFCS staff will recognize Go Blue Day on April 3 by wearing blue, the official color of child abuse prevention. Additionally, on April 8, the organization will participate in Missouri Child Advocacy Day by meeting with state representatives and legislators to enact positive change.

Visit lfcsmo.org/get-involved/ to learn more and provide support.

About Lutheran Family and Children’s Services (LFCS)

LFCS, a proud member of the United Way, is a statewide agency with headquarters in St. Louis, Missouri, three regional offices, and over 75 satellite service sites. The mission of LFCS is to empower children and families to overcome challenges today so they can build a better tomorrow. As a nonprofit social services organization, its vision is to make generations of children and families safer and stronger together. LFCS opens doors for people who face poverty, unexpected pregnancy, violence, unemployment, illness, homelessness, and more. To tackle these challenges, LFCS programs are delivered in two key services areas: Family Services and Behavioral Health Services. A dedicated staff delivers professionalism and personal care in equal measure to every situation and each client who visits one of the many offices in Missouri. LFCS services are open to anyone regardless of race, faith, national origin, gender, or age.  For more information, call 314-754-2785 or visit lfcsmo.org.

LSSND’s Healthy Families America Model Supports Families Using Evidence-based Practices

April 13, 2020

These times of great uncertainty and anxiety remind us how vital it is to support families at all levels of the continuum, from prevention to early intervention and all the way to the deepest end of the service array.

Lutheran Social Services of North Dakota keenly recognized this need for extra parenting/family support when we had unprecedented flooding in 1997 across the Red River Valley, but especially in the Grand Forks/East Grand Forks communities. At that time, flood preparations were made to protect the cities from a 49-foot flood crest; the actual flood crested at 54.33 feet. The river overran temporary dikes. The cities were evacuated. On that same day, a fire broke out in downtown Grand Forks that destroyed 11 buildings, including one entire block. As officials began to slowly allow people back into the driest areas of town to visit their homes and begin the cleanup process, it became apparent the months ahead would be some of the most difficult times people would face – forcing us all to look to how we could weather the worst of times and help build resilience.

Within this context, LSSND began to reach out to other community partners to urge consideration of how we could do our best to prevent child abuse and neglect. Our organization was intensely involved in the disaster recovery efforts, which included directing the FEMA-funded crisis-counseling response to the disaster as well as coordinating case management, clean-up and rebuilding efforts through Lutheran Disaster Response. We saw the everyday stressors and knew that in these times, one of our most vulnerable populations were young children. As their parents faced the challenges of post-disaster recovery, we knew there would be a higher propensity of risk.  We also knew all families faced these risks, regardless of their socioeconomic status.

Many years have passed since the disaster that launched us into the Healthy Families home-visitation services for newborns and their families.  With our entire nation facing some unprecedented times, bringing some of the same uncertainties and compounded stressors to families across all walks of life as we face the challenges of COVID-19, we are so pleased that we chose the Healthy Families America (HFA) model. Now, more than ever, we need to support families and help them to nurture relationships using this proven, evidence-backed model.

In 2019, LSSND was able to more than double our footprint of this important child abuse-prevention program when we created Family Strengthening Hubs in two new locations of the state along with expanding services in another. The family strengthening hubs use  a two-generation, family strength-building approach to help prevent families from going into crisis by identifying pressure points and transitions which may include life event such as birth of a child and then intervening with life-stage appropriate services which includes the Healthy Families program.

Our family strength-building approach is most easily described in terms of building the following kinds of skills in family units:

  • Parental resilience
  • Knowledge of parenting skills
  • Social connections
  • Concrete supports in times of need
  • Social and emotional competence of children

Healthy Families is always voluntary. It begins prenatally, with services provided long-term and for most participants offered for a minimum of three years with weekly visits at the start. The model uses a creative approach and has some flexible adaptions available that are congruent with the needs of the FFPSA.

All of this is done with an eye to linking services in ways that reduce child abuse/neglect and optimize child development. A broad range of studies show when parents participate in Healthy Families, children are healthier, experience fewer adverse childhood events, and demonstrate long-term improvements in school performance.  An overarching goal of this work is always to prevent families from reaching a crisis point.

We know that every parent, at some time or another, needs help and support.  With April marking Child Abuse Prevention month, we encourage you to also look at ways you can stop adverse childhood experiences before they happen. It truly is one of the most rewarding and impactful approaches you can take, knowing the challenges that are before us.

For more information about our experience with providing child abuse prevention services through the Healthy Families model, contact Janell Regimbal, Vice President of Children’s Services at Lutheran Social Services of North Dakota, at janellr@lssnd.org.

Rising to the COVID-19 Challenge

April 20, 2020

A Q&A with Wartburg President and CEO Dr. David J. Gentner

We all are struggling with the COVID-19 pandemic, which is creating unprecedented challenges for people, health professionals, and organizations alike throughout America. We sat down for a Q&A with Wartburg President and CEO Dr. David J. Gentner to get his thoughts on much-needed work Wartburg professionals have underway when it comes to caring for people at their most vulnerable, the importance of related reporting, and seamless communication with people affected during this crisis.


A: Wartburg is operating in a region that has become the epicenter of the nation’s Covid-19 pandemic.  As the deadliest pandemic in a century sweeps through the region, Wartburg is working tirelessly to play a key role in protecting the population it serves, most of whom are elderly, or suffer from underlying medical conditions and at high risk should they become infected with Covid-19, the disease caused by the novel Coronavirus. 

This critically important effort is taking place on many fronts, because Wartburg serves a diverse population along the post acute senior care and housing continuum. In the best of times, the community depends on Wartburg as a service care and housing service provider, employer, and source of information. In the current crisis, Wartburg has become even more indispensable. 


A: As hospital capacity was a well-documented concern, we were proud to be able to receive a continuing flow of COVID-19 patients from area hospitals early in the pandemic. It was inconceivable to close our doors to people infected with the virus. We did this in consultation with the epidemiology office of the New York State Department of Health, and created isolated units separate from the rest of the facility.

Wartburg’s Medical Director and Administrative staff provided valuable guidance on this transition, and monitored its implementation and ongoing operations. Prior to any internal moves, families were updated on their resident’s condition and notified of that person’s transfer.


A: Epidemiologists are working with a variety of sources to ensure they have efficient and timely sources to help calculate infections as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and Wartburg is working daily with public health officials to ensure all reporting standards are met. As reported cases of COVID-19 continue to grow throughout southern Westchester, good data are more important than ever. Testing, however, is still an issue in the greater community, as we are in the fifth-largest population density in the state with approximately 14% of the population over age 65, and there is not a satellite testing facility in Mount Vernon. This makes Wartburg’s efforts related to reporting COVID-19 positive or even presumed positive cases paramount, as it may help with regional supplies of personal protective equipment and testing resources, well documented to be rationed and in extremely short supply.

We believe case numbers are a critical piece of information to help determine supply prioritization, and we’ve made sure to do our part. While we strive for transparency, when it comes to patient confidentiality all providers are bound by federal guidelines under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), which protect the individual privacy of our residents, in their homes, who may not want their condition known.

Family communication is essential, however, and our clinical staff follows all established federal and state laws in notifying families and responsible parties of any change in the medical condition of their loved ones. We will continue to communicate all updates to constituents through a multitude of internal communication channels including on-going updates via our webpage and social media. All of our communications also include opportunities for questions and recommendations, both internally (via Wartburg’s Employee Health Hotline, and Corporate Compliance Hotline), and through New York State complaint options such as the New York State Regional Office of the Ombudsman, as well as the New York State COVID-19 portal.


A: We are heartened that at this time that the number of new positive cases is decreasing, many long-term residents are recovering from the virus, and some post-acute patients are returning home. Also, staff who have been sick are eager to return to service after their medical clearance. This gives us hope.

Our deepest sympathy, thoughts and prayers are with the families of those who have passed away from the COVID-19 virus, a virus that disproportionately and virulently affected those in our community of advanced age and frailty. We are deeply saddened by this collective loss. Yet our commitment to service is unwavering, and we are tremendously grateful for the outpouring of support from families and the greater community who have offered supplies and words of encouragement, particularly for the heroic staff who have worked so tirelessly during this time.

Foster Care Providers Play Integral Role in Supporting Families

May 1, 2020

Today marks the beginning of National Foster Care Month 2020. For the second year in a row, the Children’s Bureau has selected the theme “Foster Care as a Support for Families, Not a Substitute for Parents.” The distinction is critical and this theme aptly articulates an ongoing mindset shift worth highlighting. Foster families (often referred to as resource families) are a critical resource and source of support for children and their families following times of crisis, when the circumstances leave no other option than to remove children from their family home for a period of time. At Lutheran Services in America, we have 30 member organizations in 25 states and territories across the U.S. serving approximately 12,000 children in foster care every day.

Foster Care providers and resource families play an integral role in supporting families and helping them heal. According to the most recent AFCARS data, nearly 50 percent of children exiting foster care return home to reunify with their parent(s) and 43 percent of children exit foster care in less than a year. This data highlights the need to overcome biases and beliefs that children in foster care must be “saved” from their families and be kept away from their families for months, if not years. This also highlights the critically important role of resource families and foster care providers in caring for and supporting children and families who have experienced trauma and difficult circumstances, along with the need to provide this support in a manner that recognizes and honors the goal of timely reunification whenever possible.

We applaud foster care providers and resource families who are working closely with children and families to support and engage everyone in the process of healing and reunification. The work of building relationships, supportive communication, and a collaborative parenting approach is certainly a more deliberative and effortful route — which is also why we should celebrate National Foster Care Month with an additional dose of gratitude in 2020.

Making a Mark during Older Americans Month

May 11, 2020

Since 1965, our nation has designated the month of May as a time to honor seniors and raise awareness about the challenges they face. With the COVID-19 pandemic still ongoing, we recognize seniors during an Older Americans Month unlike any other as we all confront a threat the likes of which we have never seen. Yet amidst this daunting struggle is an opportunity to shine a light on how seniors — and the dedicated health and human services professionals caring for them that comprise our national network — are rising to the challenge. In doing so, in ways big and small, they are more than living up to the theme for this year’s Older Americans Month: “Make Your Mark.”

This year’s theme is an invitation to celebrate the numerous contributions that seniors and caregivers make for their families and in their communities. Each day, Lutheran Services in America pays tribute to the many unsung heroes of our national network of senior service organizations with our Frontline Heroes campaign. Our member organizations in 46 states and over 1,400 communities are expanding safety protocols, and making or procuring personal protective equipment in an increasingly smaller market to keep staff and residents of long-term care facilities safe. They have implemented new screening processes, and were ahead of federal guidelines for keeping facilities and their residents and staff healthy and safe.

For the teams at our member organizations, who risk their lives each day they go to work, serving seniors during this pandemic is a moving opportunity to fulfill their year-round mission to ensure all seniors have the chance to live with purpose and meaning. For example, more than 200 of our member organizations provide services that help tackle the most significant social determinants of health through innovative programs and community-based services, ranging from lack of transportation, unstable housing, or food insecurity.

On this front and in tandem with several of our member organizations in the Midwest, Lutheran Services in America has greatly expanded our efforts to improve the lives of seniors through two innovative programs. Through our Great Plains Senior Services Collaborative, we engaged foundation partners to provide on-the-ground resources to members to support rural seniors’ ability to live independently in their homes and communities. Our efforts through this program have improved the health and quality of life for hundreds of seniors in more than 70 rural communities in Minnesota and North Dakota. Since then, we expanded programs in those two states and also extended programs to Montana to reach hundreds more older adults.

In addition, we launched a successful pilot of our LSA Senior Connect program with Genacross Lutheran Services. The program, which was developed by 13 member organizations with funding support from the Lutheran Services Elderly Endowment, connects seniors with chronic health conditions to needed resources in their communities and is already yielding promising results for participating seniors in affordable housing. LSA Senior Connect recently was spotlighted by The Commonwealth Fund in a feature about how the Chronic Care Act presents a valuable opportunity to develop patient-focused approaches to health and wellness.

These initiatives are yielding significant results that promise to improve the lives of so many more older Americans in the years to come. We are proud to lead a network that is making its mark every day on the communities they serve.

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.

Positive Impact of iN2L Tablets on Senior Living Residents and Staff

April 26, 2022

At iN2L, the leading provider of person-centered engagement technology for older adults, we have been conducting research to better understand the impact of our technology on the lives of those we serve. In this blog post, I will share some of the key results from our work on the first two phases of Project VITAL (Virtual Inclusive Technology for ALl), a project in partnership with the Alzheimer’s Association and Florida Department of Elder Affairs, which examined how technology and community resources could be leveraged to combat social isolation and loneliness during the COVID-19 pandemic.


Across the first two phases of Project VITAL, 600 iN2L tablets were distributed to 300 senior care communities, including assisted living, skilled nursing, memory care, and adult family-care homes. Staff members were asked to complete online surveys approximately six months after the iN2L tablets were implemented in their community in order to gauge staff perceptions of residents’ feelings of social isolation and mood.


Across all community types, staff agreed that residents were struggling with loneliness and that their mood had declined since the implementation of COVID-19 precautionary measures. However, there was strong agreement among staff that the iN2L tablets were useful in both reducing residents’ loneliness and improving residents’ mood. Feedback from staff help demonstrate the different ways in which the tablets could have a positive impact on these metrics, including being a good source of distraction and engagement.


“The tablets have been a great tool for distractions from COVID.”

“We have very much enjoyed [the tablets]. Each month we celebrate a different country, and we use iN2L for music from the country we are celebrating. We also use them for bed-bound residents to play relaxation music.”

“I have used iN2L in my memory care unit. The sing-alongs, the old programs (Lone Ranger, etc.) are fabulous…It makes a HUGE difference in my residents suffering with sun downers.”

“The residents have truly enjoyed all of the features.”


Staff also agreed that the tablets made it easier for residents to stay in touch with family and friends, which could help alleviate feelings of social isolation and loneliness. One key way that residents could connect with family and friends using the tablet was through video chat. A staff member noted that not only did residents enjoy video chats, but that “the families enjoyed the video chatting.”


You can read more about Project VITAL 1 and 2 in our study published in Frontiers in Public Health.


iN2L has been creating possibilities, enjoyment, and connection for older adults through content-driven engagement since 1999. iN2L’s expansive content library promotes wellness, empowerment, and engagement among older adults and is the foundation for activities that facilitate social interaction, cognitive and physical exercise and therapy, education, reminiscing, areas of interest, and memory support engagement. iN2L is a critical part of the resident experience in more than 3,700 nursing homes, assisted and independent living communities, memory care settings, and adult day programs across the U.S. and Canada.


To learn more about iN2L and its senior living program, please join us for an informative webinar on Thursday, May 5, at 2 p.m. ET.

Bipartisan Report Recognizes Importance of Nonprofits in Public Health

May 31, 2022

The Bipartisan Policy Center released a report in December 2021 that outlines a five-year plan for building a more equitable and sustainable public health system in the United States. Lutheran Services in America president and CEO Charlotte Haberaecker served as a member of a 14-person task force that shaped the report’s recommendations.

The report, “Public Health Forward: Modernizing the U.S. Public Health System,” recognizes the important role community-based organizations play within underserved communities and encourages policymakers and health departments to build long-term partnerships with nonprofits to advance health equity in these areas.
The report sets a vision for the United States that can respond effectively to public health challenges while ensuring the well-being of every person in America.

Watch the release event for the report.

Will You Join Me?

May 27, 2022

Together, we can advance programs that improve equitable outcomes for children and families, fill significant gaps in care for low-income older adults and empower local health and human services leaders with additional skills and opportunity to drive transformational change for people and communities across the country. Hear from five Lutheran Services in America board members who were called to meet these momentous challenges we face.