Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

LCFS is committed to being Welcoming, Inclusive, Diverse and Equitable.

Lutheran Child and Family Services of Illinois has a vision of a world where all of God’s children have the opportunity for safe, healthy and meaningful lives. LCFS is one of the few child welfare agencies left in Illinois that was born from a faith-based foundation, and we see this as a means to serve ALL children and families.

Our W.I.D.E. Initiative

LCFS has made an organizational commitment to be W.I.D.E., which means Welcoming, Inclusive, Diverse and Equitable.

LCFS’ Vision of what is means for our Agency to be WIDE:

  • We want LCFS to be a professional and caring place, where all who come into contact with our organization experience LCFS to be warm and accepting.
  • We want to be a welcoming organization for all people of any ethnicity, nationality, citizenship status, immigration status, race, culture, religion, gender, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, persons with disabilities, and socioeconomic background.
  • LCFS supports a collaborative approach to inclusion that emphatically applies to all the youth and families we serve; in all we do, our policies and practices should reflect the importance of hearing their voices and supporting their self-determination.
  • LCFS wants to be a partnering organization that actively engages its employees in maximizing their professional growth and contribution to the workplace.
  • We are committed to dismantling racism, where courageous conversations about race are encouraged, and there is support to identify and remove barriers to more equitable practice. Having diversity as a core value means that all dimensions of diversity are inherently valued.
  • Valuing these dimensions means that we embrace each of them and affirm the inherent value of each of these identities. The policies and practices of our organization must reflect this affirmation.
  • In the work that we do, people of color experience disproportionate representation and outcomes. A critical analysis reveals that this is the product of an oppression that is deeply rooted in the systems and structures of our society, requiring us to acknowledge and work to dismantle these structures of racism and oppression. LCFS pursues three strategies to address the inequities that emerge:
    • We are committed to a robust advocacy for social justice.
    • We commit to an intense self-examination of how we as individuals and as an organization participate in social processes that create inequities.
    • We commit to activities in our daily work that promote equity and address the effects of institutional racism on those whom with we partner.
  • Staff will embrace WIDE in both experience and practice

Our Commitment

We expect the LCFS organizational culture to be color cognizant, believing in the importance of racial and ethnic differences because of their profound impact on individuals, groups, communities and society, as well as acknowledging the accompanying widespread racism and discrimination in our broader society. We expect that within the organization there be explicit, productive conversations about the role of race and culture in the work we do, as well as advocacy for addressing the social injustices that result from systemic racism.


Innovator in Supporting LGBTQ+

As part of our WIDE initiative, LCFS engaged with All Children – All Families (ACAF), a program of the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, which seeks to improve practice with youth and families by promoting LGBTQ+-inclusive policies and affirming practices among child welfare agencies. LCFS is honored to have earned the top tier Innovator Seal of Recognition.

This highest tier recognizes agencies that go beyond their solid foundation to implement innovative approaches to LGBTQ+ inclusion and demonstrate leadership. This is important because LGBTQ+ youth are overrepresented in foster care and are often further traumatized due to a lack of inclusive policies and practices within the child welfare system.

Inclusion Council

The Inclusion Council exists to support LCFS in becoming a welcoming, inclusive, diverse and equitable (WIDE) organization. The Inclusion Council is comprised of representatives from a range of geographical areas, functions and levels of the organization. Council members are required to complete specific diversity, equity and inclusion trainings and carry a commitment to continued growth in cultural sensitivity and to dismantling systemic oppression/racism in their work with the council and their broader work activities.

The Inclusion Council is both a courageous environment for discussing complex issues and a place that can be part of an ongoing, dynamic Agency dialogue on issues relating to inclusion. A central task of the Inclusion Council is to conduct an ongoing analysis of the Agency’s functioning to identify systemic areas of strength and challenges as they relate to inclusion issues. From this analysis emerge recommendations, advocacy and action concerning how the Agency involves itself and grow in these areas. Members of the Inclusion Council are committed to being change agents that further the Council’s mission of supporting LCFS in becoming WIDE.

Our Anti-Racism Journey

“LCFS cannot adequately serve the families we are deeply committed to unless we embrace the principles of WIDE,” explains LCFS President and CEO Mike Bertrand. “As a society, we must acknowledge that systemic racism is still present in many of the institutions and systems meant to help and protect children and families of color, including LCFS. It is vital for us to fully embrace anti-racist values, behaviors, and policies to change our culture and the way we serve. If we don’t, we will not only fail the people we serve, but our organization will fail, too.”

As a part of WIDE, it is crucial for LCFS to address how implicit bias and institutional racism contribute to inequality for children of color. When you partner with LCFS, you partner with the second largest community-based provider of foster care services in Illinois with a track record of strengthening more families than any other organization in the state, so foster children can safely return home. Together, we have been able to address the inequalities that children and families of color face by decreasing the median length of stay in foster care by 45% and increasing the permanency rate by 17%.

LCFS’ Dismantling Institutional Racism in Child Welfare Brick by Brick Work

2022 Annual Meeting: Championing Reunification

Learn how LCFS created a culture focused on supporting families and increased successful reunifications for children of color. Parents of color also share their experiences with the child welfare system and how we should better support families in the future.

2021 Annual Meeting: Achieving Racial Equity in Child Welfare

Learn how LCFS moved the needle within our foster care program by increasing permanency for youth of color and decreasing days in care. Also hear how two other local social service agencies are working toward dismantling institutional racism within their organizations.

2020 Annual Meeting: Dismantling Institutional Racism Brick by Brick

Learn how we can begin to create equitable outcomes for children and families of color within the child welfare system.

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
– Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Partner with LCFS

Being WIDE and addressing institutional racism and implicit bias is a journey and we invite you to partner with us on our journey.

Interested in learning more about LCFS’ WIDE Initiative or our journey toward dismantling institutional racism in child welfare brick by brick? Contact us to discuss how we might partner together in this work.