About Us


Located in Duluth, Minnesota, Northwood Children’s Services provides holistic and professional care, education, and treatment for children with severe emotional, behavioral, and learning disabilities. Established 135 years ago, we are the oldest and largest organization of our kind in Minnesota. Northwood is a private, nonprofit, tax-exempt agency committed to building positive change in children’s lives.

Our tradition of compassionate service has made Northwood the program of choice for the care and treatment of children with significant mental health challenges.



Our vision is to provide the right service at the right time, with a focus on integrated and continuous care.



  • The children, first and foremost;
  • Excellence in all that we do so we become the program of choice in each of the service areas we choose to operate;
  • To provide every opportunity for children and families to enrich their lives;
  • To continue our rich history and legacy of professionalism and community service;
  • To serve children and families with significant challenges and barriers:
  • If not us, who? If not here, where?



Life in Duluth in the 1880’s was rugged. From 1881 to 1886, the population swelled from 3,400 to 26,000. As thousands flocked to the region, many found themselves in need with nowhere to turn. Concerned for these families, Mrs. Sarah Stearns (left) the “Ladies Relief Society” in the back of Mrs. I.W. Fogleson’s Fancy Goods Shop on East Superior Street. She was concerned about young women left alone in this pioneer community, many with babies, no means of livelihood, and no families to care for them. The Society also trained and found employment for the young mothers and while they were at work their children were educated. In 1885, the shelter was moved to a new location at 1530 West Superior Street at Rice’s Point and became formally known as the “Home for Women and Children.”

In 1887, the “Duluth Home Society” was incorporated and the home was moved again to still larger and better quarters. Judge Stearns and Judge Ensigns had donated a lot where the new home was erected. The location was on East Superior Street between what is now 17th and 18th Avenues East.

In 1904 the organization became known as the “Children’s Home Society” of Duluth and constructed a new home at the cost of $35,000. This home was located at 1515 East Fifth Street (pictured below). The home was so modern, reads one account, that it had both gas and electric lights. While previous homes had also served to shelter women, this structure was designed for children only. For 50 years the home served its purpose and after careful evaluation, a decision was made by the Society to serve children with problems of an emotional origin. A new home, Northwood, was constructed and ready for occupancy in 1956.

Over the years the organization has changed its name but has always maintained its mission – providing help to children and their families.


Annual Reports

Annual Report 2017 (February 1, 2018)


Quarterly Newsletter

Winter 2018 (March 1, 2018)

Lastest News

Now that the Oaks team has put down some roots, we have started to branch out into activities designed to give back to our community. Would you be-leaf that one of our first opportunities came in the form of planting trees on Arbor Day? When thinking of activities that a group of children would enjoy […]

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