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Journey to The New LSS

Journey to The New LSS: Part Four – Faith In Every Future

Journey to The New LSS

The New LSS – Faith in Every Future

Helping children, families and communities address the issue of child abuse has been at the heart of Lutheran Social Services’ mission – Help, Healing and Hope – and our goals. Our track record of providing loving, compassionate care for children at their time of greatest peril, guided by faith, is clear.

Over the last year, senior management and the LSS board have asked, “What more can – and should – we do?”

An examination of the magnitude of the problem, the social, economic and political environments in which we operate, and the strengths and weaknesses of our organization has led to a recognition that LSS must become more focused and strategic, and our programs need to work together as an integrated system, not a collection of independent operating units.

The driving force behind these changes is simply our new vision and mission:

Journey to The New LSS - Mission & Vision

We will accomplish this through a continuum of services and community partnerships, each tracking progress against markers of safety, life skills, education, health, and vocation, all of which are critical to breaking the cycle of child abuse. We recognize that children enter the system at different stages of their lives and due to varying life events. Because the types of abuse vary among children, we are committed to addressing the entire spectrum.

Journey to The New LSS - Dr. Kurt Senske

We have an opportunity to redefine who we are, how we live our new mission, and how we deliver our programs and services. By addressing our mission, our people, our programs and services, and most importantly the children of Texas and Louisiana, we can become a premier nonprofit leader in the fight to empower children, families and communities to break the cycle of child abuse.

Accomplishing our new, bold mission will require change. We must:


through the best programs and services in Texas, and increasing our total served to more than 10,000 children every year. The priority for LSS is to continue to provide the best programs and services to the children of Texas and Louisiana. The services are and will remain at the core of what we do. Having the boots on the ground will provide LSS the credibility it needs to advance the other sectors of the organization.


to become the premier thought leaders in Texas, the “to go” organization on children services in Texas, and developing new programs and services to increase total served by asking, “Do children have everything they need to break the cycle of child abuse?” Over the next four years, LSS will position itself as a statewide leader in the effort to break the cycle of child abuse by taking advantage of the credibility that comes with excellence in service delivery to advance the best thinking on how we empower children, families and communities to break this cycle. LSS will further these efforts through partnerships with universities, existing thought leaders, as well as key business, government, and community leaders.

The combination of excellence in service delivery and thought leadership creates the opportunity to be an effective advocate for the betterment of the children, families and communities we serve, thereby making child well-being and protection a much higher priority for Texas than is the case today.

Fulfilling this new mission and vision and achieve the ambitious goals in our new strategic plan will mean many changes for the organization.


by recruiting and developing the best team. To strengthen our people, LSS is investing in new and innovative ways. We will engage staff by shifting our paradigm to one that affords our people with opportunities to enjoy exceptional professional and personal fulfillment in coming to work and delivering the new mission.

We will address the key issues identified in the most recent employee engagement survey: pay, diversity, internal communication, climate/fairness, and climate/management, with a goal of lowering attrition rates to 15 percent agency-wide by 2017. We are developing a growth plan for high-potential employees and creating a plan to successfully transition underperforming employees into solid agency assets.


to ensure that LSS remains financially strong for another 100 years. To achieve our financial goals going forward, we are working with the operating units of the organization to align our efforts around the four-year strategic plan that includes performance, capital expenditures, investment strategies and the financial core. We will work contTinuously to help each operating unit achieve sustainable operating margins. Reducing or eliminating our debt will also allow us to establish reserves aimed at funding potential cyclical deficits in future operations and launch new initiatives that may require some up-front investment.

With a new mission and vision comes a new business model for the organization that will create a more anticipatory form of leadership and allow us be more nimble. We will also introduce a new comprehensive identity strategy that will honor our Lutheran heritage, help unify our services and open the door to others passionate about our cause.

Journey to The New LSS - New Business Model

In addition to our programmatic goals, LSS is committed to providing quality, innovative, faith-based services for the children we serve at levels above and beyond the minimum guidelines, enhancing their lives. We further commit to taking on work critical to our mission even when there are not traditional funding streams available. These efforts are made possible through the generosity of countless individuals, organizations, churches, and corporations who share our passion and commitment for breaking the cycle of child abuse, and whose gifts make up approximately 10 percent of our annual revenue.

To accomplish this, we plan to:

  • Implement a comprehensive identity strategy that honors our Lutheran heritage and opens the door to others passionate about the cause.
  • Expand opportunities for donors to make an impact on the lives of children with their gifts each year, increasing annual fund support by $1 million per year for the next four years, while maintaining our commitment to minimizing the costs associated with fundraising and insuring the highest industry standard of ethics.
  • Build, with the help of visionary individuals and management of current assets, a $100 million endowment to support our work in perpetuity.
  • Fund the capital expenditures necessary for accomplishing our mission.
  • Strengthen our focus in LSS Impact Areas, directly through our programs and indirectly through new key partnerships that impact the key markers and create safer communities for all children.


Journey to The New LSS

Journey to The New LSS: Part Three – Programs and Services

Inspired by our faith and commitment to make a difference…

…Lutheran Social Services changes lives through compassionate services to children, families and communities in times of need.

In the previous article, we discussed the magnitude of the child abuse problem in Texas: An estimated 66,000 unduplicated victims of child abuse were confirmed in 2013, and yet only 17,000 children were removed from their homes. We remain haunted by the fact that 49,000 children, who experienced abuse or neglect, were not removed.

In 2014, LSS provided care for 1,000 children in safe and loving foster homes, residential treatment for 376 formerly abused children and the largest adoption services program in the state.

We are the right agency to drive transformative change in ending the cycle of child abuse because our strengths and core responsibilities have been in serving children, families and communities through a history of excellence in program delivery.

CARF Accreditation

After an extensive review, CARF International – the independent Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities – awarded a three-year accreditation to all of our children’s and family services programs across Texas. This is a testimony to our commitment to excellence, dedication and great work on the part of the LSS team.

Journey to The New LSS - CARF Accreditation

Foster In Texas

LSS’s Foster in Texas is the largest provider in Texas with 14 offices. The program staff is engaged in addressing the immediate need for more families willing and able to help foster infants, teens, siblings and children with special needs. All of the foster parents are required to undertake extensive training and background checks before children are placed in their homes.

Each of these children is unique; they enter the foster care system at different stages of their lives and as a result of different events. Because the causes and kinds of abuse vary, LSS is committed to breaking down program silos and providing services across a continuum.

Journey to The New LSS - Foster In Texas

Krause Children’s Center

At Krause Center, girls 12 to 17 years old who have been removed from their homes or foster placements for a variety of reasons, most due to histories of severe abuse or neglect, are engaged in the healing process through in-depth clinical therapy, personal development activities, and spiritual care in a safe setting.

Journey to The New LSS - Krause Children's Center

New Life Children’s Center

Almost all of the girls ages 11 to 17 who arrive at New Life Children’s Center’s tranquil country setting are coming directly from foster homes, with behaviors too intense and disruptive for their foster parents to handle. Many have had several foster care placements before Texas Child Protective Services (CPS) places them at New Life. The Hill Country campus with home-like dormitories and specialized trauma therapy help restore a sense of hope for their futures.

Journey to The New LSS - New Life Children's Center

BeREAL: Austin & New Orleans

In Central Texas, more than 1,300 young adults left the foster care system because they “aged out.” LSS began to tackle this issue in the Austin area this year through BeREAL Austin, a program to empower these young adults to become contributing and self-sufficient members of our communities and helping to break the generational cycles of poverty and abuse. LSS first offered the BeREAL transition program in New Orleans and last year provided services for 124 young adults in Louisiana.

Journey to The New LSS - BeREAL

Unaccompanied Children

In Corpus Christi, LSS’s Bokencamp Children’s Center is an emergency shelter for unaccompanied immigrant children, primarily from Central America, who need a safe environment after long harrowing journeys separated from their families. In El Paso and Corpus Christi, LSS is working with the U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement to help migrant children through transitional care in LSS foster homes.

Journey to The New LSS - Unaccompanied Children

Adoption Services

LSS’s adoption services assists women facing unplanned pregnancies by providing confidential options counseling, support and resources to help you explore their choices. Our adoption specialists help birth mothers create the best life possible for their babies. As a Hague Accredited Agency, LSS also has partnered with other international adoption agencies since 1967, facilitating the placement of several thousand children.

Journey to The New LSS - Adoption Services

Trinity Charter Schools

The support we receive from individuals, congregations and others helps us to supplement inadequate state funding. Our charter school system, providing educational opportunities for children at the residential treatment facilities – LSS’S Krause Children’s Center in Katy and New Life Children’s Center in Canyon Lake – is unique.

Journey to The New LSS - Trinity Charter Schools

Community Programs

Beyond our work with children in foster care, residential treatment, the adoption system and recently arrived immigrant children, LSS provides much-needed services for seniors, families and communities in crisis:

Disaster Response

LSS Disaster Response is prepared to step in to help families and communities in the aftermath of natural disasters – tornadoes, hurricanes, floods or wildfires – in Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana. In 2013, more than 3,250 individuals were offered financial assistance for basic needs in the short term and case management and spiritual care over the longer term. LSSDR works continually to assure the program is ready to meet the needs if and when disaster strikes.

Journey to The New LSS - Disaster Response

Neighborhood House

In Lubbock, Neighborhood House helps individuals and families during times of economic hardship by providing emergency assistance including food vouchers, utility vouchers, hygiene products and prescriptions. In 2013, Neighborhood House provided assistance to more than 21,000 people.

Journey to The New LSS - Neighborhood House

Health for Friends Clinic

Also in Lubbock, Health for Friends Clinic offers quality services for people who might not be able to otherwise have access to health care because they cannot afford health insurance. In 2013, 1,200 patients were treated during 7,255 patient visits. All services are provided at no cost to those who qualify.

Journey to The New LSS - Health for Friends Clinic

Journey to The New LSS

Journey to The New LSS: Part Two – The Child Abuse Challenge

Journey to The New LSS

The Child Abuse Challenge: How Big is the Problem?

Journey the The New LSS - The Child Abuse ChallengeTexas is a rapidly growing state with abundant opportunities of its residents. But, at the same time, families must deal with the troubles and tensions that families face even in good times. The inability to cope with the stress of too much or too little work, poverty, drug or alcohol abuse, marital conflict, isolation and other issues in many instances leads to abuse of children – the most vulnerable members of a household and of our communities.

With one in 10 of the nation’s unduplicated confirmed victims of child abuse, Texas faces a tremendous problem that has a physical and emotional cost to the children, a financial cost to the state and social costs to our communities. Here are some of the state’s 2013 statistics:

  • There were more than 250,000 allegations of child abuse.
  • An estimated 66,000 unduplicated victims of child abuse were confirmed (neglect 83 percent, physical 19 percent, sexual 10 percent, medical 3 percent and emotional 1 percent).
  • An estimated 17,000 children were removed from their homes due to abuse or neglect.
  • There were an estimated 30,000 children living in DFPS care.
  • More than 6,000 children are legally awaiting adoption.

Child abuse occurs at every socioeconomic level, across ethnic and cultural lines, within all religions, and at all levels of education, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Child Welfare Information Gateway reported in 2013 in “Long-Term Consequences of Child Abuse and Neglect.”

The state’s burgeoning child population – 7 million, an increase of nearly 1 million in the last decade – and the rising cost has increased pressure to confront this alarming problem. A study published in 2011 in the journal Child Abuse & Neglect estimated the annual national cost of child maltreatment to be $124 billion, including medical costs, increased spending for special education, the child welfare system and the criminal justice system, and diminished earning power. Texas’s share, based on its share of the population of children, would be more than $12 billion.

Journey to The New LSS - Abuse Factors

The consequences of child abuse are tragic, and they feed a continuing cycle; about 30 percent of abused and neglected children will later abuse their own children, according to HHS. Government statistics and experts who have studied child abuse on the national level provide a troubling picture:

Journey to The New LSS - Statistics 01



From its early years providing shelter for orphans in Texas and Louisiana in the 19th Century, Lutheran Social Services of the South has been providing care for the most vulnerable members of our communities.

Today, LSS is at the forefront of foster care and adoption services in Texas. Each day, almost 400 LSS foster homes care for 800 to 900 abused and neglected children throughout Texas and operates four residential treatment centers to serve children with several emotional and behavioral problems, most stemming from past abuse and neglect. BeREAL (Ready, Educated, Accomplished Leaders), a program for youth aging out of foster care, was launched in New Orleans and introduced in Austin this fall.

As Texas addresses the tragedy of child abuse in our communities, LSS will be there, continuing a 130-year tradition of nurturing children in the name of Jesus Christ.

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