JACKSON, Wyo. —Teton County Sheriff Matt Carr has no shortage of experience working with young adults across Teton County. Before stepping into his current role, he served as a School Resource Officer — a point of law enforcement support in the Jackson Hole High School. During these years, he was involved in many cases in which young people faced serious crises and required swift, professional intervention. In each of these instances, he recalls, Teton Youth & Family Services played a key role in helping kids and their families stay safe and get back on track.
“Any time we’re dealing with a juvenile offender, our first goal as law enforcement is to stabilize the situation. Once we’re able to do that, we rely on the facilities and programs at Teton Youth & Family Services to help begin the healing process,” Carr explains. “TYFS is capable of handling a wide variety of offenses and challenges that youth face — crisis management, residential care, therapeutic support — and it’s their ability to collaborate that really completes the circle for kids and families.”
Having access to TYFS’ facilities and expert staff 24 hours a day, 365 days a year means that law enforcement partners always have a local resource to rely on. “Teton County doesn’t have any other juvenile holding facility,” he explains.
If TYFS was not an option to keep kids safe and supported through crises, Carr’s staff would be responsible for transporting that young person to another facility. The closest options? Rexburg, Idaho — over 80 miles away — or Casper, Wyoming — 280 miles across the state.
“Transporting youth in order to keep them safe would very quickly become less than ideal,” Carr says. “Mountain passes, unpredictable weather, and hours of travel each way would be a significant burden to navigate. But because we have TYFS here, we’re not only able to avoid the logistical challenges of transporting kids elsewhere, but they can stay in their home community. Maintaining their family connections is extremely important to their healing process.”
Teton Youth & Family Services has operated in Jackson Hole for 45 years, and their trifecta of facilities is in need of renovation in order to continue offering the continuum of services to those who need it.
“The buildings have fallen way behind,” observes Carr, noting that some of the structural components date back to the 1980s. “Ensuring that these buildings are up to modern standards of safety is, from my perspective, non-negotiable. It’s required for our community’s youth. A juvenile in crisis truly is a community issue, which is why I believe that supporting these upgrades via SPET Proposition #2 is critical.”
The ability to safely house youth locally also saves the community millions of dollars annually.
“We estimate that the resources available through TYFS save the community $4.3 million every year. From where I’m sitting, it makes a lot more sense to invest $2 million now to continue reaping a significant amount of savings. It’s better for kids, and it’s better for the community’s bottom line.”
“The timing couldn’t be more pressing,” Carr continues. “Thanks to the active, engaged leadership of TYFS, these renovations and upgrades are already underway. The momentum is there. They’ve already raised the vast majority of the funding. As members of the community that they serve, it is tremendously important to vote for Proposition #2 and help complete these desperately-needed projects. Our kids need us to.”
Carr has witnessed firsthand how young people in Jackson Hole have not only faced crises, but weathered them with the support of TYFS, and emerged as healthy, engaged, contributing members of the community.
“Supporting SPET Proposition #2 is making sure that kids today and into the future have the same access to truly lifesaving and life-changing resources when they’re having their worst day.”
Join TYFS on Oct. 19 for a free lunch from Buffalo Bill’s Food Truck from 11:30 a.m. until 1:30 p.m., and tour of the TYFS facilities and the renovations made so far. (510 S. Cache St, Jackson, WY).
Teton Youth & Family Services urges 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.