After 40 years in social services, Bruce Burkland is retiring in style.
The board and staff at Teton Youth and Family Services will host a celebration Thursday for the departing executive director at the Center for the Arts from 5 to 7 p.m. A program will begin promptly at 6; RSVPs can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Burkland, who has worked for the independent nonprofit for four decades, retired at the end of 2018. He told the News&Guide that he has seen many changes in the field since he began.
There’s now more national focus and research on child brain development and how neglect and lack of societal connections affect it. That has reinforced how he sees his work.
“I’ve easily gotten as much or more out of it than what I’ve put in,” he said. “I’ve loved doing it, and I’m very fortunate I’ve been able to do it as long as I have.”
The nonprofit grew during his tenure to be an umbrella organization for three entities critical to child welfare. When Burkland arrived in 1979 the Van Vleck House, which now includes a group home, a crisis center and court diversion services, was fairly new — it started in 1977 as a drop-in center for drug prevention for children. Red Top Meadows, which provides residential treatment and wilderness programs for adolescent males, was being created. In 1985, the group home and crisis center components of the Van Vleck House opened. At the time, Teton Youth and Family Services contracted with Teton County School District No. 1 to offer students psychological services.
The Hirschfield Center opened in 2000. It provides programs for families and children, and forensic interviews for children who suffer neglect and abuse.
“I don’t feel like I started any of those pieces, but I have been the person who’s overseen and maintained and developed all the pieces,” Burkland said. “I think they are all really important pieces.”
In November, Burkland’s replacement was named: longtime employee Sarah Cavallaro.