Silver Springs – Martin Luther School offers a holistic approach to improving the developmental, emotional, educational, spiritual, and social well-being of children and families through residential and community-based mental health services, special education, and foster family care. Dedicated professionals who are motivated by our mission partner with families and caregivers to provide individualized services to children to promote resilience, stability and bright futures.
With locations in Plymouth Meeting and Philadelphia, Silver Springs is a Social Ministry Organization (SMO) of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and is non-denominational with regard to whom it serves.
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To afford a home, education, and support for destitute or dependent children and provide mental health services for these children without distinction of creed, color, or country and to engage in related study and research.
Motivated by Christ’s love and call to serve others, the following values underscore our mission:
Join us in our mission to help children and families reach for bright futures.
In 1859, Silver Springs was established in the Germantown section of Philadelphia by Elizabeth Fry Ashmead Schaeffer with a single dollar and a singular conviction to serve and care for orphaned children. Today, Elizabeth Schaeffer’s single dollar has grown into this thriving social ministry organization that is dedicated to serving children and families, helping them to heal, grow, and see hope in their future.
The Church’s Treasures, written in 1923 by The Reverend T. W. Kretschmann, shares the inspirational story of the founding of what is now Silver Springs – Martin Luther School. In 1851, The Reverend William Passavant, an active leader in the Lutheran Church, asked Elizabeth (Mrs. C. W.) Schaeffer, the wife of a prominent Lutheran pastor, “Why cannot the Lutherans have an orphanage as well …?” Dr. Passavant gave Elizabeth Schaeffer one dollar and asked her to start an orphanage in Philadelphia. She placed that dollar in a knitted purse, rallied women of Lutheran churches in Philadelphia, and together they founded the Germantown Orphans’ Home in 1859 (which later became the Lutheran Home at Germantown). One dollar in a knitted purse was the beginning of what would become over 150 years of affection for the needy ones of the earth.
The Germantown Orphans’ Home enjoyed a rich and varied history of service to those in need, including parentless children, Civil War orphans, adults in need, and over time, children with special needs and their families. Elizabeth’s program continued to operate on the grounds of the Lutheran Home at Germantown for over 100 years.
The Residential Treatment Program was developed in the late 1950s for children with emotional and behavioral challenges and was located in Germantown until the program moved to the Silver Springs Farm in Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania in 1972. Today, our Residential Treatment Program serves a maximum of 72 children ranging from six to 14 years old on our picturesque Plymouth Meeting campus.
Martin Luther School was opened for elementary level special education students as a Pennsylvania Department of Education “Approved Private School” in 1969. In 1989, the Harrison Centre opened to provide educational services to children living on the Silver Springs campus. In 2000, the Hess Centre was built to accommodate the increasing number of children requiring the specialized educational services provided by Martin Luther School. Today Martin Luther School provides specialized education for kindergarten through eighth grade students whose emotional and behavioral difficulties prevent them from thriving in a mainstream school setting.
In 1976, Foster Family Care was established to ensure that if a child’s immediate family was unavailable, upon leaving residential treatment, a child would have an appropriate home to go to. Today, the program serves children who are referred from the Residential Treatment Program and from other community providers. The Foster Family Care program works with children from infancy through age 18 (or older), including toddlers, and sometimes college students.
In 2009, Silver Springs began providing Behavioral Health Rehabilitation Services, which includes specialized therapeutic support to children in their own homes and schools. This program helps children who are grappling with emotional and behavioral needs, and their caregiver(s), to succeed at home, in school, and in other community settings. The administrative offices for this program are housed in the Weiss Cottage on what used to be the Lutheran Home at Germantown campus.
In 2014, Silver Springs opened an Outpatient Mental Health Program in the Mt. Airy section of Philadelphia and on our Plymouth Meeting campus. The Outpatient Program expands our continuum of behavioral healthcare by providing individual and family therapy and medication management for children ranging from 2 to 18 years old. Our professionals partner with parents/guardians to help children learn new skills to achieve stability and to thrive at home, in school, and in their community.
Today Silver Springs – Martin Luther School continues as a Lutheran Social Ministry Organization affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and its Southeastern Pennsylvania Synod.
A member of Lutheran Services in America, Silver Springs joins with over 300 Lutheran health and human service organizations that provide care for more than 6 million unduplicated clients each year. This means that one in fifty people in the United States and the Caribbean benefit from assistance from a Lutheran-affiliated Social Ministry Organization every year.
Silver Springs is one of the oldest Lutheran Social Ministry Organizations in America and enjoys a long, rich history with Lutheran congregations from the Philadelphia region. Members of Lutheran congregations played a critical role in our founding and continue to nurture and sustain us today as natural partners in our work to serve our neighbors. We value our partnership with Lutheran congregations who contribute to the success of Silver Springs in a multitude of creative and generous ways.
Today Silver Springs – Martin Luther School offers a holistic approach to improving the developmental, emotional, educational, spiritual, and social well-being of children and families. A strong interdisciplinary philosophy guides and unites dedicated professionals, children, and families in providing residential treatment, special education, treatment foster family care, and community based services.