Sheridan Foster Parent Exchange fills a need for local children

(Sheridan, Wyo.) — The Sheridan Foster Parent Exchange is an innovative program fine-tuned to the needs of the people it serves: children entering foster care. One child was stunned when he received a bag filled with survival supplies from the SFPE to take to his new home. "He went through his bag and he looked at each item," said SFPE Executive Director Carla Trier, herself a former foster child. "He looked at me and said, 'All of this ... this came from people I don't know. And they care — about me.' I was so moved by that," Trier said. The SFPE celebrated its third anniversary with an open house and donor appreciation event Saturday. Trier started SFPE — the only program of its kind in the state of Wyoming — in her living room three years ago. She had just become a foster parent herself. "It was New Years, I had never been a parent before, and this child had nothing," Trier said. "We went to Walmart, and $300 later, we had stuff, but she was still crying." Trier has worked in many fields, including human trafficking prevention outside of the country, and for Child Advocacy of The Big Horns , before starting the SFPE. There are approximately 95 children in foster care in this region, and even more being cared for by grandparents and great-grandparents. Now housed in a facility with space for a "store" with shelves full of books, toys and clothing, the SFPE sends each child taken into foster care to his or her new home with a bag of their own items. They are given a weeks' worth of clothing — sometimes this is more clothing than the child has ever owned — a hygiene kit, a towel, a handmade quilt, socks, a coat, stuffed toys, a beautiful book and more. A non-profit with a board of directors, the SFPE works with the Department of Family Services of Sheridan/Johnson counties, Next Level Parent Liaison Program, the Sheridan Senior Center, Milestones Youth Home and is acting as a mentor for a program in Colstrip, Montana. In addition to helping a child transfer into foster care, the SFPE delivers Christmas stockings and Easter baskets to children, helps children celebrate holidays and hosts back-to-school parties. "Carla just saw this need," Board Member Geri Usher said. "These children often go into foster care with nothing." The SFPE is primarily sustained by donations, volunteers and has received some grant funding. Trier herself has another full-time job. Donations can be made at, which help with operating expenses. Volunteers perform tasks as varied as washing donated clothing before it is given out, to cleaning the sorting facility, to donating the SFPE facility's monthly rent. To donate items, time, funds or ideas, make a donation appointment by calling 307-461-9113, or visit the organization on Facebook . *SFPE Executive Director Carla Trier sits at the entrance to the facility during an open house and anniversary celebration. / Pitchengine Communities* *The store inside the SFPE. / Pitchengine Communities* *The bag of supplies given to each child upon entering foster care. / Pitchengine Communities* *The store inside the SFPE. / Pitchengine Communities* *Feature photo: SFPE board member Geri Usher, left, and Executive Director Carla Trier explain the supplies given but the SFPE to each Sheridan/Johnson County child upon entering foster care. / Pitchengine Communities* ​#dally #news