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The Fremont Orphanage, circa 1893 - one of the institutions that eventually became LFS

A Brief History of
Lutheran Family Services of Nebraska

Since 1892, Lutheran Family Services of Nebraska has served children and families. What began as orphanages in Fremont and Omaha has become a statewide outpouring of Godīs love through dozens of programs, 250 staff members and 1000 volunteers.

As the needs of individuals, families and communities have changed over the years, so have our programs.

Organizational Milestones

  • 1892: Roots in two orphanages: Lutheran Children's Home & Immanuel Children's Home

  • 1958-1961: Original institutions became Lutheran Family Service & Immanuel Social Service

  • LFSS - 19711971: Merged Immanuel Social Service and Lutheran Family Service with offices in Omaha & Lincoln

  • 1970's: Offered marriage and family counseling, family life education & domestic violence programs

  • 1975: Refugee Resettlement Program begins

  • 1976: Offices added, including in Norfolk, Columbus, Grand Island and Ogallala

  • 1978: Began coordinating chaplaincy services and volunteer hospital visitation program

  • 1980's: Initiated programs for substance use treatment, outpatient mental health, maternal & infant health care, and home-based services

  • 1984: Ruth Henrichs named President & CEO; counseling services begin in North Omaha

  • 1986: Adopted the name Lutheran Family Services of Nebraska, Inc.; Installed first computer system

  • 1989: The RSafe® incest treatment program begins

  • 1990's: Began AIDS counseling, gambling addiction treatment, Parents United & incest treatment, intensive family preservation, family support services, treatment and specialized foster care, respite care, and neighborhood development (SUN-Strong Urban Neighborhoods)

  • 1991: Purchased Omaha Church Center as corporate headquarters and downtown counseling center and renamed it "The Dunklau Building" after Rupert & Ruth Dunklau of Fremont, NE

  • 1992: Celebrated agency's centennial across the state; LFS has 23 offices

  • 1993-8: Conducted first major statewide appeal, Share the Hope, raising over $5 million

  • 1996: Received accreditation from the Council on Accreditation; Restructured regions to better respond to community needs and serve entire state

  • 1997: Expanded adoption and pregnancy counseling in locations statewide; first statewide computer network

  • 1999: Launched

  • 2000: Received the $1 million Omaha Award for Strong Urban Neighborhoods (SUN)

  • 2001: Became Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service's Nebraska affiliate; Opened Children Services Center in downtown Omaha

  • 2002: Named Lutheran Disaster Response's Nebraska affiliate; Expanded immigration and legal support services to Omaha and Grand Island

  • 2003: Transfer completed to direct The BRIDGE Ex-offender Re-entry program in Lincoln; Began federal grant to provide post-adoption services in Kansas and Nebraska; Invested over $750,000 in technological upgrades to better serve clients and & stakeholders

  • 2004: Launched TeleHealth network to provide interactive behavioral health services across Nebraska; Began offering international adoption services; Redesigned

  • 2005: Transitioned Building Families Boutique program from Lutheran Services in Iowa to LFS of Nebraska and expanded it to include early childhood mental health services; Finalized first international adoptions for children from China & Russia

  • 2006: Implemented Essential Learning online training; Groundbreaking for Josiah Place HUD project (housing for the serverely & persistently mentally ill) in North Platte; Chartered LFS Board Governance Committee; Completed reorganization of The BRIDGE Prison Aftercare Program

  • 2007: Celebrated 115th anniversary of LFS; United Way of the Midlands named LFS lead agency in establishment of the International Center of the Heartland at The Center in Omaha and Community Services staff also relocated to The Center; Completed Josiah Place; Expanded Building Families Boutique to Fremont and initiated $2 million Light The Way Boutique endowment campaign

  • 2008: Started "Well Mothers. Welcome Babies." program with focus on Lexington, NE area; Began In-Home Services program

  • 2009: Started Right Turn® program in partnership with Nebraska Children's Home Society; Started At Ease program

  • 2010: Started Right Turn® program in partnership with Nebraska Children's Home Society; Started crisis response program in Douglas, Dodge & Washington Counties; Adoption Links Worldwide became an affiliate of LFS. Hired Director of Behavioral Health to oversee realigned Behavioral Health core competency. Opened North Omaha Center for Healthy Families® and combined two Fremont offices (Behavioral Health & Children Services) into the Rupert Dunklau Center for Healthy Families®. Adoption Links Worldwide become an affiliate of LFS.

  • 2011: Opened North Omaha Center for Healthy Families®; LFS becomes a Trauma-Informed Care organization. Expanded At Ease program to Grand Island. Added Family Support Liaison program (a collaboration with the Learning Community of Douglas and Sarpy Counties); Reorganized refugee and immigration services.

  • 2012: Celebrated agency's 120th anniversary; LFS begins helping victims of human trafficking; Children Services reorganized into three focus areas: Early Intervention and Prevention, Permanency and Well-Being, and Childhood Behavioral Health; Moved RSafe® offices to Project Harmony building in Omaha.

  • 2013: Expanded At Ease program to North Platte. LFS began expanding its services in Lincoln – assuming management of four core behavioral health services from Lancaster County. Added the Home Visitation Program, in collaboration with the Douglas County Health Department, to take parenting instruction into the home. Extended the crisis response program to include a peer support specialist who offices at the Omaha Police Department.

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