Partner Abstract

Western Arizona Council of Governments (WACOG) is a multi-program agency within Region IV (La Paz, Mohave, and Yuma Counties) located on the western side of Arizona, along the Colorado River. This service area encompasses a geographic region of approximately 24,000 square miles in primarily rural, often times isolated communities. Major income sources are agriculture, tourism, and the retail/trade service industries. The provision of services in a large service area offers many challenges as well as opportunities. WACOG opened its doors in 1971, and is the designated Community Action Agency, Area Agency on Aging, as well as the Head Start Grantee for this diverse geographic area. WACOG is an organization that is dedicated to the well being of the low-income and vulnerable populations within the tri-county service area. It is the mission of WACOG to stimulate, promote, and develop human, natural, social and economic resources to their fullest potential within the diverse area.

The joint governance between the WACOG Executive Board and the WACOG Head Start Policy Council provides Policy Council members ample opportunities to directly interact with their elected officials on behalf of low-income children and their families. Programs within the agency encourage individuals to become active participants of WACOG Community Action Programs and advocates within their respective communities.

WACOG Head Start has nearly a three-decade old history of providing comprehensive child and family services in western Arizona, along the Colorado River, in Yuma, La Paz and Mohave Counties. The service area comprises a geographic region of approximately 24,000 square miles in primarily rural, oftentimes isolated communities. Major income sources are agriculture, tourism and the retail/trade service industries.

The national Head Start expansion effort of the late 80s, early 90s and in 2000 saw WACOG Head Start quintuple its enrollment and open 18 additional sites. These expansion opportunities allowed program administration to begin providing child and family services in rural and underdeveloped communities that hitherto had no such services for their residents. Additionally, we expanded the number of Head Start sites in communities where the program was already well established but needed to expand child/family services in underserved areas of selected communities.

The program is now funded to provide services to a minimum of 1,060 three and four year old children and their families at 21 center sites throughout the tri-county service area. The program serves a diverse population in terms of culture, ethnicity and language(s).

WACOG Head Start has a long tradition and well-developed system of delivering comprehensive and high quality services designed to foster healthy development in children. The program provides a range of individualized services in the areas of education and early childhood development, special education, medical, dental, mental health, and nutrition and parent/family development. Additionally, the entire range of services is responsive and appropriate to each child and family’s development, ethnic, cultural and linguistic heritage and experience.

The challenge of providing comprehensive child and family services in non-served or underserved rural communities is daunting. WACOG Head Start has been the forerunner in establishing child development centers in many of the communities within its tri-county service area. WACOG Head Start, in concert with community leaders, has established child/family centered programs designed to provide services that will meet children’s needs and to offer opportunities to adults that leads to family involvement, improved literacy skills, job training skills and self-sufficiency.

WACOG Head Start does this by cultivating community partnerships. Through establishing meaningful networks with community agencies and organizations focused on early childhood development, family support, education and health, WACOG Head Start ensures children and families receive a broad spectrum of individualized services and that community resources are efficiently and effectively utilized.

The program began working toward having all centers NAEYC-accredited in 1999 in order to ensure continued quality and to stay current with developmentally appropriate best practices. At this time, 16 of the 21 centers are NAEYC-accredited. The remaining five centers are pending accreditation.

Central program administration is located in Yuma, Arizona and additional administrative staff is located in Kingman, Arizona (Mohave County). The central office houses the Head Start Director, Program Specialist, and Content Area Specialists for Child Development Services, Disability Services, Family Development Services, Health Services and Nutrition Services; as well as the Area Manager for Yuma and La Paz Counties. The Program Manager, Mohave County Area Manager, Family Development Services Assistant and Health Services Assistant are housed in Kingman.

San Luis:
Orange Grove:
Roselia Ramirez
WACOG Head Start
Phone: (928)627-3981
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