In 1981, Southwest Human Development started with a single program serving young children with disabilities. This year, the organization marked 40 years as a leader in early childhood serving more than 140,000 children and their families every year.


Southwest Human Development, Arizona’s largest nonprofit dedicated to early childhood development, works with young children and their families during their child’s earliest years to have the greatest impact on their future success and development. The organization’s 40 programs and services focus on child development, mental health, Easterseals disabilities services, early literacy, Head Start, family support, and child welfare.


“We have always prioritized identifying critical gaps in services for young children and families,” says Ginger Ward, CEO of Southwest Human Development. “We work hard to ensure children and families have equitable access to high-quality programs and services.”


During its first 40 years, Southwest Human Development has successfully provided Arizona families with the tools and resources they need to help their children achieve their fullest potential. Looking to the future, Ward says Southwest Human Development remains committed to strengthening the foundation Arizona’s children need for a great start in life.


“While the field of early childhood has evolved over the years, one thing remains true: the investments we make today in young children provide an important foundation for their future development and success in life,” says Ward.


Author and philanthropist MacKenzie Scott recently made a significant investment in Southwest Human Development, which allowed the organization to affect transformational changes.


“We’re grateful for the generosity of MacKenzie Scott for helping our organization realize a long-held dream,” says Ward. “With this gift, we’re focusing on scaling and enhancing current programs, leveraging new and existing resources, creating systems change, public policy and advocacy, conducting research, and expanding the number of highly-trained early childhood professionals in the field.”

With start-up resources provided by the contribution, Southwest Human Development launched its Birth to Five Center of Excellence that provides comprehensive disabilities and mental health services and support for young children. The Birth to Five Center of Excellence provides a continuum of support to an increased number of children and families. It also serves as a resource for a wide range of community-based programs that collaborate with the Center’s team to supplement or enhance specialized consultation, assessment and intervention services tailored to each child’s, family’s and community program’s needs.

Scott’s investment also facilitated the expansion of the Southwest Human Development’s Smooth Way Home program for premature, fragile infants and their families as they transition home from the NICU. The program offers families developmental guidance, mental health counseling and community resources.

To learn more about Southwest Human Development, visit