Our History

Healing and helping people in need since 1965

If you or a loved one has been touched by our ministry over the years, please let us know. Share what aspect of our organization has most impacted you.

You may share anonymously if you choose.

Nearly 60 years of healing, helping, and hope.

 

Through the grace of God we have been able to provide healing and help to many people in need through senior and social services and now a focus on mental health ministry. 2025 will mark the 60th anniversary of our agency, with decades of sharing the Gospel and adapting to the changing needs of the world around us.

“Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people” (Galatians 6:10).

This is the reason Wisconsin Lutheran Child & Family Service (WLCFS) was first established—to do good to all people. As Christians, we have joy and peace in God’s unconditional love for us. It is our passion and our privilege to reflect that love to others, especially those in need.

It all began on July 13, 1965. The Board of Directors filed the Articles of Incorporation for Wisconsin Lutheran Convalescent Home, Inc. (WLCH). The Green Tree Gardens Convalescent and Nursing Home was purchased, and WLCH began operating the facility on August 1, 1965.

In January of 1966, it was decided that the WLCH needed to expand services to more patients and residents and to provide social services.

On March 4, 1966, the name of the agency was officially changed to Wisconsin Lutheran Child & Family Service, Inc. (WLCFS), and on March 13, 1966, Pastor Ernst F. Lehninger received a divine call to serve as the first Executive Director of the agency, until his retirement in June of 1991.

Pastor Robert Michel was called to serve as Executive Director in the fall of 1991. He began his official duties in December. Pastor Michel retired on July 30, 2004 and was replaced by Pastor James Mattek in September 2004 to serve as Chief Executive Officer.

In 2009, Pastor James Mattek stepped down from his role as CEO to become the Director of Ministry, while Dan Degner took his place as Chief Executive Officer.

In 2011, WLCFS became known as WLCFS-Christian Family Solutions to better reflect its reach and services. The agency’s legal name remains Wisconsin Lutheran Child & Family Service, Inc.

In October of 2015, Mark Klug took over the role of Chief Executive Officer.

Over the decades, our programs and services have changed, grown, and adapted with the changing needs of the world around us. We now own and operate mental health clinics in seven states, including Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan, Nebraska, North Dakota, Florida, and Arizona. To more accurately reflect our services and reach, WLCFS initiated a name change to Christian Family Solutions, receiving an official DBA in 2020.

We work as a team to impact lives, while living out our mission of “healing and helping people in need through the ministry of Jesus Christ.”

 

WLCFS Timeline

January 1966: Wisconsin Lutheran Child & Family Service; name adopted, agency purposes expanded from Wisconsin Lutheran Convalescent Home.

October 15, 1966: Social Service division began operation.

1968: Family counseling services and adoption program begins.

June 1968: Resident center (Wisconsin Lutheran Care Center) and Social Services/Administration buildings dedicated.

1974: First area counseling clinic, Black Creek, WI.; moved to Appleton, WI in 1985.

1975: Bethany Chapel dedication at Wisconsin Lutheran Care Center.

1976: Educational Services program authorized by Board of Directors.

1977: Counseling clinic opened in Tomah, WI; discontinued in 1982.

1978: Group Home for the mentally handicapped opened in Milwaukee; closed in November 1991.

1979: Alcoholism Awareness program began within the Social Services Division.

1980: Outreach office opened in the Milwaukee inner city; discontinued in 1984.

1980: WLCFS establishes a daughter corporation, Wisconsin Lutheran Retirement Community, Inc. (WLRC).

1982: Counseling clinic opened in Eau Claire, WI; Tomah, WI office discontinued.

1982: Luther Haven Retirement Community opens under WLRC ownership.

1984: Counseling clinics opened in Wausau, WI and Morton Grove, IL; both closed in 2006.

1985: Counseling clinic opened in Appleton, WI.

1986: Counseling clinic opened in Fort Atkinson, WI; closed in 2006.

1987: Counseling clinic opened in La Crosse, WI; closed in 2006.

1990: Integration of Education and Group Services program.

1991: 25th Anniversary—”Celebrating an Affair of the Heart.”

1995: Counseling clinic in Oak Creek, WI opens.

1994: Counseling clinic opened in Twin Cities of Minnesota; closed in 2006.

1996: Adoption and Foster Care programs discontinued and Social Service Division becomes Christian Family Counseling.

1997: Wisconsin Lutheran Living Center assisted living built next to Luther Haven Retirement Community.

1999: Counseling clinic in Brookfield, WI opens.

2007: Member Assistance Program (MAP) started and video counseling services begin.

2008: The Gardens of Hartford assisted living facility built.

2011: Wisconsin Lutheran Care Center sold.

2011: Counseling clinic in Mankato, MN opens.

2012: In-Home Care added as a program.

2012: Counseling clinic in Lakeville, MN opens.

2012: Christian Family Counseling and Administration offices moved to the new Germantown, WI location.

2016: Appleton, WI clinic moved and expanded.

2016: Intensive Outpatient Programs started.

2019: Mankato, MN location moves to larger building at 44 Good Counsel Drive. Lakeville, MN location moves to 8670 210th Street West. Both buildings are now owned by WLCFS-Christian Family Solutions.

2020: WLCFS receives approval to do business as (DBA) “Christian Family Solutions”. The incorporated name remains Wisconsin Lutheran Child & Family Service, Inc.

2020: Holton Youth and Family Center in Milwaukee becomes the new home for STRONG Child & Adolescent Day Treatment.

2021: CFS Rochester moves from an office in a local church to a leased space at 2720 Superior Drive NW.

2021: Lakeville, MN location nearly doubles in treatment space with a lower level renovation.

2021: CFS care management services introduced in Minnesota.

2021: CFS creates the School-Based Counseling Partnership Program to leverage available dollars to meet demand for services in schools.

2022: “Better Outcomes Now” initiative begins to strengthen client-centered care and gather aggregate data on treatment progress across the agency.

2022: After a pilot program with St. Paul’s Muskego, CFS begins its congregational partnership program, working with congregations to offer mental health ministry in clinics on the congregation campuses.

2022: First congregational partnership in Arizona begins with the opening of a counseling clinic at Emmaus Lutheran Church in Phoenix. The following year, Heritage Lutheran Church in Gilbert, AZ opens its clinic. CFS now has in-person counseling available in Arizona.

2023: CFS closes the Lakeville, MN location. In-person day treatment is consolidated to the Mankato location with online day treatment offered throughout Minnesota.

2023: CFS closes its Brookfield, Wis. location and moves outpatient and intensive outpatient services to its Germantown, WI location. Outpatient services also increase at the partnership clinics with St. Paul’s Muskego and Living Word Lutheran in Waukesha.

2023: CFS relinquishes management responsibilities for The Gardens of Hartford. The Gardens is owned by Spero Senior Ministries and now managed by Koru Health. This marks the end of senior services for CFS, now fully focused on mental health ministry.