New Mexico, Arizona, Southern Colorado and Navajo Indian Head Start programs were among the first to be funded in Indian Country. Many tribes operated a 1965 summer program with everyone operational for the school year in 1965. Almost immediately the programs in the 3 states and the Navajo Nation began meeting and forming state associations. As the Indian Head Start programs grew in strength and numbers, directors began to discuss a need for training staff and themselves in some type of annual event.
The first Indian Child and Family Conference sponsored by the Southwest Consortium of Indian Head Start Programs, Inc., was held in Phoenix, Arizona, in the spring of 1981. In 1982 the Consortium incorporated in the state of New Mexico as a non-profit corporation and received 501(c)(3) status from the Internal Revenue Service.
The purpose of the Corporation is to improve and promote services to children, families and communities served by Indian Head Start programs through training and technical assistance. The objectives of the Southwest Consortium are:
To present a voice of mutual concerns to local, state, regional and national agencies.
To establish and maintain regular contact with national organizations concerned with Indian children and families.
To serve as a clearinghouse.
To serve as a resource to directors of Southwest Indian Head Start programs.
To encourage a network of regional consortiums of Indian Head Start programs through which local program parents, staff and community members voice their mutual concerns and needs.
Since 1981 the Annual Training Conference has been held either in New Mexico or Arizona and has been a focal point for training front line staff, parents, tribal leaders and management teams. In 1999 the Conference title was changed from the Indian Child and Family Conference (ICFC) to the Native American Child and Family Conference (NACFC) to better reflect the population this training event serves.
The AI-AN grantees of the Southwest Consortium are funded to serve approximately 6,000 pre-school Head Start children and infant and toddlers in the Early Head Start Program.
We of the Southwest Consortium are very proud of our history in helping American Indian/Alaska Native programs throughout the United States and look forward to continued service to our brothers and sisters.