Lutheran Child and Family Services of Illinois has been nurturing and protecting children, strengthening families and enhancing communities for more than 140 years. Here are some major milestones along the way.

Founding – 1920s

  • 1873Fourteen congregations establish the Addison-based German Evangelical-Lutheran Orphan Home Association of Northern Illinois.
  • 1902The Lutheran Children’s Friend Society is established in Peoria to provide for the adoption and placement of children with families.
  • 1908Kinderheim is established in Chicago for children who are wards of the Cook County Juvenile Court.
  • 1916Kinderheim moves to the site in Addison vacated by Concordia Teachers College.


1930s – 1950s

    • 1935A merger between the Orphan Home and Lutheran Children’s Friend Society of Peoria brings about an openness to new ideas in child care.
    • 1940The Lutheran Orphan Home and the Kinderheim join to form the Lutheran Child Welfare Association (LCWA). Rev. Theodore Thormahlen is appointed executive secretary of the newly merged organization.
    • 1947Rev. R.A. Marquardt appointed new executive secretary.
    • 1954Lutheran Family Service of Chicago is organized by Lutheran Charities Foundation and Wheat Ridge Foundation.
    • 1957Rev. Ruben Spannaus, the first executive director with training in social work administration, is hired.
    • 1958Lutheran Family Service of Chicago merges with LCWA. The agency’s focus is strengthened, with five major service areas defined: services to families; unmarried mothers; adoption; foster care and residential treatment for elementary-aged children.
  • 1959First Central Illinois office opens in Springfield.


1960s – 1990s

  • 1961Lutherbrook Children’s Center in Addison is opened, and the Children’s Home ceases operation.
  • 1966First Southern Illinois office opens in Belleville.
  • 1970Agency changes its name to Lutheran Child and Family Services of Illinois.
  • 1978Gene Svebakken joins agency as executive director.
  • 1978LCFS begins partnering with the state to provide foster care services for DCFS.
  • 1988Fathers’ Center program begins in East St. Louis.
  • 1994Southern Thirty Adolescent Center holds its grand opening.
  • 1996LCFS acquires Camp Wartburg in Waterloo.
  • 1998LCFS starts Intact Family Recovery Program in Chicago.


2000s – Present

  • 2006Regenerations program to serve dually-involved youth launches in partnership with Youth Advocate Programs.
  • 2010LCFS acquires Chicago Uptown Ministry and Lifelink International Adoption.
  • 2012Foster care services expand by nearly 25% by opening additional offices in Northern Illinois.
  • 2013LCFS celebrates 140 years of blessings.
  • 2017Mike Bertrand becomes LCFS president and CEO on January 1st.