This post was paid for by Teton Youth and Family Services

JACKSON, Wyo. — In 2021, Teton Youth & Family Services experienced a 40% increase in need for their services. The local nonprofit, which has been in operation for 45 years, provides a constellation of interventions and supports for children, young adults, and families throughout the community. 

Photo courtesy of Teton Youth and Family Services

In the same year, the American Academy of Pediatrics declared child and adolescent mental health a state of emergency — a trend that coincides with the uptick in need for support locally. “Our community has people of all ages struggling,” says Sarah Cavallaro, executive director of Teton Youth & Family Services. “Wyoming has the highest rate of suicides in the country. This past year alone, we had two 9-year-old children present to us with suicidal thoughts. The mental health needs of children and their families are absolutely at an all-time high.”

Teton Youth & Family Services has three facilities: Hirschfield Center for Children, Van Vleck House and Red Top Meadows. Hirschfield Center, located near the base of Snow King, provides forensic interviews for children in the aftermath of trauma or a crime, as well as therapeutic spaces for young people and families. In 2021, the highly-trained staff performed 35 forensic interviews and provided 3,240 hours of therapy to local families. 

The organization’s residential facilities — the only ones that exist on the western side of the state — provided 9,805 safe nights for youth in 2021 alone. “We also have our region’s only emergency suicide holding facility for youth, which is unquestionably a critically important resource for our community,” adds Cavallaro. 

While these facilities continue to serve ever-increasing numbers of children, young adults and families, they’re in desperate need of renovation and revitalization. “One of the most important reasons that we are upgrading our facilities is the priority of safety,” Cavallaro says. “We also know that more welcoming, contemporary therapeutic spaces are deeply helpful on anyone’s healing journey. Our community needs these spaces to reflect the excellence of the services that we provide.”

The much-needed repairs are already underway, funded by a balance of sources. Two-thirds of the $15 million budget will be covered by private philanthropic contributions, and $3 million more will be derived from state funding. “The remaining $2 million, we hope, will come from the SPET initiative on the current ballot,” explains Cavallaro. “By statute, the Town and County are responsible for the safety of residents, which includes young people. Our services are available at no cost to all families 24 hours a day, 365 days a year — that’s absolutely critical to keeping children and youth safe.”

“When youth can access residential treatment options locally, it’s not only better for them to stay close to home, but it also saves our community a significant amount of money,” Cavallaro continues. “85% of kids in our residential programs don’t end up going on to higher levels of care elsewhere in the state. Teton Youth & Family Services is saving the community at least $4.3 million per year through these services alone. In just a few years, it will have saved us $13 million. $2 million in support from taxpayers — all of whom benefit from our services directly or indirectly — is a very smart investment, especially with costs likely to rise down the road.”

Teton Youth & Family Services urge all community members to vote for SPET Proposition #2 — Teton Youth & Family Services Facility Improvements. Vote on or before Nov. 8, and cast your ballot to support critical programming and facilities that keep children and families healthy, thriving, and safe.

Inform your vote and learn more about SPET Proposition #2!

When: Wednesday, October 19 from 11:30am-1:30pm

Where: Teton Youth and Family Services. 510 S Cache St, Jackson, WY 83001

Enjoy FREE Lunch  from Buffalo Bill’s food truck and Open House tours at TYFS. For more information call 307-733-6440 or visit their website.