Southwest Human Development was founded by Ginger Ward, whose guidance and vision has provided the foundation for the organization’s remarkable success. In partnership with early childhood professionals, Ms. Ward has expanded from a single program in 1981 that improved services for children with disabilities in Head Start into a national model that many others now follow and seek out for best practices.
Founded in 1981:
The following milestones highlight the organization’s history:
- In 1982, SWHD begins to operate Head Start programs in five Phoenix area school districts.
- In 1983, SWHD initiated an early intervention program for infants and toddlers with disabilities.
- By 1988 the organization has grown to 120 professionals and an annual budget of $3.5 million.
- In 1993, SWHD launches its Healthy Families child abuse prevention program, based on a national model.
- By 1993, the organization has grown to more than 230 professionals and an annual budget of $6.7 million.
- By 1996, SWHD has grown to a staff of more than 300 serving nearly 12,000 children and families, and operating with an annual budget of $13 million.
- In 1997, SWHD opened the Good Fit Counseling Center for infants, toddlers and preschoolers. This program is now a part of the Arizona Institute for Early Childhood Development.
- In 1997, SWHD brought the national pediatric literacy program called Reach Out and Read to Arizona. This program is now a part of the Arizona Institute.
- In 1998, the highly regarded Assistive Technology Resource Center is initiated for children and adults with disabilities.
- In 2001, the Harris Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Training Institute, now a part of the Arizona Institute, opened.
- In 2003, SWHD acquires, rehabilitates and relocates into a 50,000-square-foot building at 2850 N. 24th St. in Phoenix, which serves as its headquarters.
- In 2004, the Healthy Families program has tripled in size and is on track to serve approximately 1,200 families by 2005.
- By 2004, SWHD has grown to a staff of more than 450, serving nearly 50,000 children and families, and operating with an annual budget of $23 million.
- In 2005, SWHD’s Arizona Institute launched the Libraries for Literacy program.
- In 2005, the Arizona Institute for Early Childhood Development introduced the first statewide toll-free Birth to Five Helpline (1-877-705-KIDS).
- In 2006, SWHD has grown to encompass more than 40 public and private programs in four primary areas: child health and welfare, disabilities, training and education and Head Start.
- In 2007, SWHD became the Easter Seals affiliate for central and northern Arizona. This new association will aid SWHD in offering new programs as well expanding the early intervention, assistive technology and other disability programs.
- In 2007, SWHD added the Fussy Baby Program to the already successful Birth To Five Helpline (1-877-705-KIDS). Fussy Baby is designed to aid parents of babies who cry excessively, also known as colicky.
- In 2007, the Feeding Program for Infants and Young Children served its first client. This unique program services the large number of children who experience significant problems with feeding and swallowing.
- In 2008 SWHD was named the Valley’s Best Place to Work by the Phoenix Business Journal for the large company category.
- In 2009, SWHD hosted two inaugural events: Walk With Me which raises funds and awareness for services for children with disabilities, and Portraits of Opportunity, which showcases agency families, who participate in a variety of programs, through photography
- In 2010, the agency has grown to serve more than 135,000 children and their families, with a staff of 650 throughout 100 programs and projects.
- In 2011, the Children's Developmental Center opened serving children ages birth to five with disabilities and behavioral challenges. It is the first of its kind in Arizona using a blended developmental, mental health and medical model. SWHD also opened the ADAPT Shop, which provides relatively simple adaptations or low-tech solutions that can make a tremendous difference in the life of a child with a disability.