Catholic Charities Community Services Arizona provides critical services and support to the Phoenix area’s most under-resourced populations
Catholic Charities Community Services Arizona has served Phoenix since 1933, providing critical services and support to the area’s most vulnerable populations, including Veterans and their families, sex-trafficked survivors, victims of domestic abuse, refugees, and those experiencing homelessness.
The organization has many services devoted to helping children, including Westside Head Start (WSHS), which provides early education programs to more than 750 disadvantaged children in preparation for entering school. The WSHS programs teach skills such as pre-reading, language, math, cognitive skills, health, and social and emotional competence to put them on a path to success from the start of their schooling throughout their entire educational journey.
A key element of WSHS is the inclusion of the family in the child’s learning process to build and strengthen their support system. Families receive training and support to encourage and help the child continue their learning at home. Its parent council, whose members are parents of children in the program, make decisions on the final curriculum, including books, snacks, assistance in the classrooms, and works to create activities that increase parental engagement. Additionally, the WSHS staff and parents work closely together to understand the specialized needs of the children and then develop solutions that address these needs.
Through the support of funding from the Maximus Foundation, WSHS was able to hire a new mental health coordinator who aids teachers in identifying children who may need additional social and emotional support to be successful in school. Understanding a child’s physical and mental wellbeing is vital to ensuring they become life-long learners and realize success in the classroom, these children receive dedicated support from WSHS family specialists who provide mental health and trauma-informed care to promote positive mental health and social and emotional functioning that will lead them toward success in the classroom.
The addition of the mental health coordinator has had a positive impact on the students, as expressed by a Westside Head Start teacher:
“The emphasis on mental healthcare in the classroom has made such a difference. The materials and support have made us aware of what to look for in a child's behavior to better understand their current capacity to learn and listen. We also better understand how life events may impact a child before they even enter the classroom. For example, when we have foster children, we understand that the children have already been through so much, and routine and patience are key to their mental health. We regularly use our social, emotional books that help the children visualize their own feelings which makes it easier for them to share how they are feeling.”
Learn more about the work of Catholic Charities Community Services Arizona and the work of its Westside Health Start to provide early education programs for children in the greater Phoenix area.
Giving back to the communities we serve
The Maximus Foundation is one way Maximus employees do something greater together. Established by the Maximus Board of Directors in 2000, the Maximus Foundation is an independent, employee-led, 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Employee donors pool their contributions through the Foundation, increasing their community impact by supporting nonprofits that serve the same communities we do. Employee donors double their impact through Maximus’ dollar-for-dollar matching pledge and make their voices heard by nominating and voting for future grantee partners. Learn more at maximus.com/foundation.