A legacy of helping young children succeed


Founded in 1981:

    • $150,000 budget
    • Serving 175 children and families
    • Six staff members
    • A single Head Start disabilities program



    • $72 million annual budget
    • Serving 140,000 children, families and professionals
    • 900 staff members
    • More than 40 programs and services


The following milestones highlight the organization’s history:

    • In 1982, Southwest Human Development begins to operate Head Start programs in five Phoenix area school districts.


    • In 1983, Southwest Human Development initiated an early intervention program for infants and toddlers with disabilities and begins a family literacy program to help Head Start parents learn English and improve parenting skills. Southwest Human Development also launched the Parent Aide program to provide education and parenting skills, home management and community resources for families in Arizona’s Department of Child Safety system (formerly Child Protective Services).


    • In 1985, Southwest Human Development was selected to provide Resource Access Project training and technical assistance to support children with disabilities to all Head Start programs in Arizona, California, Nevada and Pacific Territories.


    • In 1986, the Newborn Intensive Care Program was launched that allowed registered nurses to assist families of premature newborns. Southwest Human Development also established the first Early Childhood Institute with other partnering organizations and opens the Crocket Head Start Center in central Phoenix.


    • In 1987, Southwest Human Development brought the Wolf Trap Early Learning Through the Arts program to Arizona, using the arts to teach preschoolers through Head Start curriculum and teacher trainings.


    • By 1988 the organization has grown to 120 professionals and an annual budget of $3.5 million, following the introduction of the Comprehensive Child Development Program.


    • In 1993, Southwest Human Development launches its Healthy Families child abuse prevention program, based on a national model and introduces a Head Start program at UMOM New Day Centers homeless shelter. The organization has grown to more than 230 professionals and an annual budget of $6.7 million.


    • In 1994, Southwest Human Development began its Early Childhood Assistive Technology Training Project in conjunction with Arizona State University to train preschool teachers to support children with disabilities.


    • In 1995, Southwest Human Development launched the Infant/Toddler Head Start program serving pregnant women, infants and toddlers – now called Early Head Start – for 120 families with children ages birth to 3 years old, and initiates the Soros International Training Project to educate preschool teachers in Eastern Europe. The agency now has more than 260 staff, serves 7,000 children and families, and has an operating budget of $10 million.


    • By 1996, Southwest Human Development launched Family Preservation/Project Thrive to preserve families involved with the Arizona Department of Child Safety (formerly know as Child Protective Services) and the Kinship Care program to provide home studies and supervision for families seeking to care for relative children affected by child abuse and/or neglect. The organization 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, Southwest Human Development launched the Arizona Early Intervention Project and opened the Good Fit Counseling Center for infants, toddlers and preschoolers. The organization also brought the national pediatric literacy program called Reach Out and Read to Arizona.


    • In 1998, the highly regarded Assistive Technology Resource Center is initiated for children and adults with disabilities and collaborates with Children’s Action Alliance on the Smart Beginnings program to design a model of public and private supports for promoting healthy development of children prenatally to age 3. Southwest Human Development also hosts its first annual fundraiser, the “Eighteen Holes Can Change A Life” golf tournament.


    • In 1999, Southwest Human Development begins a Head Start program at Child Crisis Arizona (formerly Crisis Nursery) and the organization’s Kinship Care program adds adoption services to become the Kinship Care and Adoption program. The nonprofit also launches the Family Builders program to assist families at some risk for child abuse or neglect.


    • In 2000, Southwest Human Development establishes a Family Assistance Fund to help families with emergency financial situations, introduces the Head Start Harmony Farms in partnership with the Phoenix Zoo, and the Safe Havens program to train child care providers and teachers to help young children who have witnessed violence in their home or community.


    • In 2001, the Harris Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Training Institute is opened and launches the For Now and Forever prevention program to provide mental health services to child care centers serving children at risk. Southwest Human Development is also recognized at a Program of Excellence by ZERO TO THREE, a national early childhood development and research organization.


    • In 2002, the agency’s Reach Out and Read early literacy program is expanded to 18 pediatric clinics and Southwest Human Development launched a multi-year national Free To Grow program, bringing together families, schools, churches, law enforcement and social services in central Phoenix neighborhoods to address issues with negative impacts on children.


    • In 2003, Southwest Human Development acquires, renovates and relocates into a 50,000-square-foot building at 2850 N. 24th Street in Phoenix, which serves as its headquarters. The agency also launches the Project SOAR early intervention project with Homeward Bound, a shelter for homeless families.


    • In 2004, Southwest Human Development forms the Arizona Institute for Early Childhood Development dedicated to expanding research-based early childhood development programs focused on child abuse prevention, early literacy and infant mental health. The agency’s Healthy Families program has also tripled in size, serving nearly 1,200 families, and the National Early Reading First program is launched to improve English skills for Head Start children to help them enter kindergarten ready to succeed. Southwest Human Development 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, Southwest Human Development’s Arizona Institute for Early Childhood Development launches the Libraries for Literacy program and introduces the first statewide toll-free Birth to Five Helpline (1-877-705-KIDS), which supports parents, caregivers and professionals who have questions or concerns about early childhood development for children ages 5 and under. The organization’s Kinship Care and Adoption program has also quadrupled in size, and the agency launches Direct Support Services to provide in-home support to families with a child who has a behavioral health diagnosis.


    • In 2006, Southwest Human Development has grown to encompass more than 40 public and private programs in four primary areas: child health and welfare, disabilities, Head Start, training and education.


    • In 2007, Southwest Human Development becomes the Easterseals affiliate for central and northern Arizona aiding Southwest Human Development in offering new programs as well expanding the early intervention, assistive technology and other disability programs. The agency also added the Fussy Baby Program to the Birth to Five Helpline (1-877-705-KIDS), designed to aid parents of babies who cry excessively or have feeding and sleep issues, and serves its first family in the Feeding Services for Infants and Young Children, a unique program helping children who experience significant problems with feeding and swallowing.


    • In 2008, Southwest Human Development was named the Valley’s Best Place to Work by the Phoenix Business Journal for the large company category.


    • In 2009, Southwest Human Development hosted two inaugural fundraising events: Walk With Me to raise 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. Southwest Human Development also becomes the program provider of Head Start services at Educare Arizona, part of a national network of high-quality early childhood education schools.


    • In 2010, Southwest Human Development begins offering Raising A Reader, a national community-based early literacy program, and Smart Support mental health consultation services to child care centers and providers, expanding the agency’s reach to more than 135,000 children and their families, with a staff of 650 throughout 100 programs and projects. The agency also collaborates with Arizona’s Department of Child Safety (formerly Child Protective Services) to develop and implement the Substance Exposed Newborn Safe Environment Program.


    • In 2011, the Children’s Developmental Center opened serving children ages birth to 5 with disabilities and behavioral challenges. It is the first of its kind in Arizona using a blended developmental, mental health and medical model to offer comprehensive developmental assessment, diagnosis and treatment with coordinated care. Southwest Human Development also opened the ADAPT Shop, which provides simple adaptations or low-tech solutions that can make a tremendous difference in the life of a child with a physical disability.


    • In 2012, Southwest Human Development begins a New Beginnings Program for separating or divorcing parents involved with the Maricopa County Family Court System and initiates Parents Partners Plus in south Phoenix, a collaborative effort among nonprofit organizations that serves as the central intake referral line for families needing to access home visitation programs.


    • In 2014, Southwest Human Development launches an agency-wide Volunteer Engagement Program, drastically expanding upon the ongoing parent engagement efforts within the agency’s Head Start program, and hosts its first-ever Family Volunteer Day. Southwest Human Development also receives a $1 million grant from Microsoft to improve the technology infrastructure of the agency.


    • In 2015, the agency adds Building Resilient Families to assist Arizona’s Department of Child Safety in the widely-publicized backlog of cases involved in the state’s child protective services system, and also adds a Foster Care and Adoption program training and services to help combat the rising and urgent need for quality foster care homes in Arizona, and expands the Parent Partners Plus program to include all of Maricopa County. Southwest Human Development moves its annual Walk With Me family fun walk to Scottsdale and adds a 5K run.


    • In 2016, the evidence-based parenting skills program Common Sense Parenting of Infants and Toddlers is added and offered at various local Family Resource Centers. Southwest Human Development now provides more than 40 early childhood programs and services, with a staff of 850 and a $62 million budget.


    • In 2017, Southwest Human Development adds the Arizona Child and Adolescent Survivor Initiative (ACASI) program that provides trauma counseling to children and their relative caregivers after the death of a parent due to domestic violence homicide. This is a grant program managed by Northern AZ University’s Family Violence Institute. In order to provide a more family centered, therapeutic environment, the agency opens the SWHD Family Nurturing Center. The families served by ACASI are seen there as well as families served through the Special Family Reunification Program, which provides therapeutic supervised visitation.


    • In 2018, the Professional Development Institute at Educare Arizona (PDI) was created to improve early childhood education teacher quality and practice, which will lead to better outcomes for children. The PDI partners across the state to offer unduplicated, high-quality professional development for early childhood education teachers, directors, and technical assistance professionals. Core initiatives include language and literacy, business practices and family engagement. Southwest Human Development also expanded services through a grant from MAXIMUS to provide brief Home-Based Services to assist families in resolving barriers to successful completion of the MAXIMUS program. This includes services such as life coaching, job readiness skills and parenting education.

Helping Arizona Children & Families

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