SWI Works with the Morrison Institute to Reach out to Latino Families

SWI Works with Morrison

Institute to Reach out to

Latino Families


Juliana giving a presentation on self advocacy in Yuma

Juliana giving a presentation on self advocacy in Yuma

Yuma Arizona is a small rural city located in the southwest corner of the state right on the border with Mexico and California. About 180 miles away from the capital of Phoenix Arizona, Yuma is one of the poorest cities in the state with limited resources for people with disabilities. With poverty so high and limited resources, self advocacy becomes much more important to receive the services one needs to live independently. Yet, teaching self advocacy skills is made difficult when there is a high number of Spanish-speaking residents.
To teach self advocacy skills to Spanish-speaking families, Southwest Institute for Families and Children (SWI) has partnered with the Morrison Institute of Arizona State University to teach a two day curriculum on self advocacy, rights and responsibilities as people with disabilities, and how to access the necessary resources needed to live independently, and how to use social media. Classes began June 1 and were given to nine individuals with disabilities and their families.

Over the course of two days, participants worked together to become stronger self advocates. Juliana Huereña of SWI gave a presentation on the importance of being able to advocate for oneself as well as the history of the self advocacy movement. Icebreakers were also given throughout the training to make people feel comfortable participating and to develop friendships among all the participants.

The trainings have been a total success. Participants learned about self advocacy, gained the confidence to advocate for oneself, and learned that they are part of a self advocacy movement with a rich history of people fighting for their rights. Participants also developed relationships with other participants and learned that they are not alone in their efforts to live independently.

SWI hopes to continue to work with the Morrison Institute to provide self advocacy training to individuals with developmental and cognitive disabilities in the Latino community.

SWI and ACDL Meet with Newly Elected Maricopa County Recorder

picture of SWI and ACDL staff with Adrian Fontes newly elected Maricopa County Recorder

February 23, 2017 Southwest Institute for Families and Children (SWI) and Arizona Center for Disability Law (ACDL) had the opportunity to meet with the newly elected Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes. Through a series of meet and greets throughout the county, Mr. Fontes provided background on himself, his vision for the office, and his take on some of the issues that have plagued the elections process in Maricopa.

During the question and answers session, George Garcia, Executive Director of SWI, asked how he planned to address some of the issues faced by people with disabilities who have had systemic problems with the voting process in the past. Mr. Fontes stated that his office must do better in training poll workers to assist those with disabilities, know how to use accessible voting machines, and do more to let the public know their rights and options available to ensure equal voter access. He also stated that he plans to create a disability advisory board that can work with the Maricopa County Recorder’s Office to ensure they are doing everything possible to meet the needs of people with disabilities. SWI and ACDL have offered our assistance in working with the office to create such advisory board and are currently in talks with their staff.

Voter Presentation at Sixth Annual African American Conference on Disabilities

voter presentation group picture

Arizona team presents at the 6th Annual African American Conference on Disabilities on February 17, 2017, Phoenix, Arizona.


On February 17, 2017, ABILITY360 and Arizona Center for Disability Law (ACDL) hosted the 6th Annual African American Conference on Disabilities.  Its purpose is to reach out to thevoter presentation group picture African American population to provide information and resources to a community that often underutilizes services designed to improve their quality of life.


To improve the ability of people to exercise their right to vote, Arizona self advocates from Southwest Institute for Families and Children (SWI) and Self Advocates Becoming Empowered (SABE) Bill Lucero, Katie Griffith, Jolene De Tiege, and Teresa Moorepresented information on the voting process in Arizona.  Information included: who can vote, where to register to vote, how to research on candidates and issues, where to vote, how to vote, and what a voter can do if something happens that prevents them from voting.


The session was well received.  Members from the audience included youth, self advocates Juliana and Tom Hicksand representatives from Maricopa County.  Maricopa County displayed the voting machines to show how to use them.  Anyone can use the voting machine; just ask for it when you check in to vote.


Self advocates were proud to share their information on voting and that the audience learned about what they can do if poll workers say they cannot vote.  Teresa Moore shared 2010 and 2016 voting statistics that included people with disabilities interested in learningTeresa Moore reading survey about candidates and issues that affect their lives.  The audience also learned about what a provisional ballot is and how to ask for it.  One thing the presenters stress is NEVER TO LEAVE THE POLLING SITE WITHOUT CASTING YOUR VOTE! If you voted in November 2016, and would like to share your experience please complete this survey https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/2016VoterExperienceSurvey before February 28, 2017.




Self Advocates Meet with State Representative John Allen

YAC-AZ members George, Juliana, Calvin, and Jay are standing in front of House of Representatives in Arizona

On November 15, 2016, YAC-AZ members Calvin Cook, Jay Dashefsky, and SWI members George Garcia  and Juliana Huerena had the great opportunity to meet with Arizona House Of Representatives Member John Allen (District 15) to discuss issues that are affecting people with developmental disabilities in the state of Arizona. Rep. Allen as a strong proponent of disability rights and was very receptive to the concerns voiced by YAC-AZ members. Among the issues discussed at the meeting including improving employment opportunities for people with disabilities, funding for programs such as Rehabilitative Services Administration, and students with disabilities are able to continue attending school in an inclusive environment.

after the hour-long meeting with the representative, he provided YAC-AZ members with a tour of the legislative floor. It was a great to see up close and personal where our state legislators conduct the business of the people. While on the floor, he told us about his background and how he got involved with politics.

YAC-AZ members look forward to working with Rep. Allen to provide feedback and voiced the concerns of youth with developmental disabilities in Arizona. YAC-AZ would like to thank Rep. Allen for taking the time out of his busy schedule to meet with concerned voting citizens.

SWI to work with SABE to Create a National Self Advocacy Technical Assistance and Resource Center


9/15/2016 Self Advocates Becoming Empowered Press Release


Self Advocates Becoming Empowered (SABE), the oldest national self-advocacy organization in the country, has been awarded a grant from the Administration for Community Living to establish the first-ever National Resource Center for Self-Advocacy (NRCSA). The resource center will be funded through a $2 million, five-year cooperative agreement funded as a Project of National Significance by the Administration on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities under the Administration on Disabilities.

SABE’s mission since its formation in 1990 has been to support people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in speaking up for themselves on issues that impact their lives.

“SABE is thrilled to lead this initiative while engaging a diverse group of partner organizations to strengthen self-advocacy skills and knowledge of advocates across the nation,” said Tia Nelis, President of SABE. “We see this important work as expanding on civil rights movements by supporting the voices of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.”

Chester Finn, former SABE President, said: “We are thrilled to work with self-advocacy groups across the country, because this has been our guiding purpose as an organization for many years!”

The National Resource Center for Self-Advocacy will:

 Share best practices in promoting self-advocacy;

 Form an advisory committee that represents the diversity of the self-advocacy community;

 Research the history of the self-advocacy movement and compare to other civil rights movements;

 Provide training and technical assistance to local, statewide and regional self-advocacy organizations;

 Create Leadership Policy Fellowship experiences for self advocates; and

 Develop a web-based resource clearinghouse. 9/15/2016 Self Advocates Becoming Empowered Press Release


The outcome of the center’s efforts will result in a stronger, more diverse self-advocacy community, leadership and employment opportunities for self-advocates, and a more powerful collective voice of self advocates across the nation.

The full list of partner organizations that will help produce the outcomes and products of the center includes:

 Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN),

 Green Mountain Self Advocates (GMSA),

 Heartland Self-Advocacy Resource Network (HSRN),

 North East Advocates Together (NEAT),

 Our Communities Standing Strong (OCSS),

 Pacific Alliance,

 Project ACTION!,

 Southwest Alliance,

 Southwest Institute for Families and Children (SWI),

 TASH, and

 University of Missouri Kansas City Institute for Human Development (UCEDD) (UMKC-IHD),


Additionally, the Georgetown University National Center on Cultural Competence will provide guidance and support to ensure the tools promoted by the new resource center respect, honor, and represent the beliefs and values of people from diverse cultures and linguistic backgrounds.

For more information about the project, please contact Teresa Moore 602-725-3117 or email sabenation@gmail.com.

Ever wonder what it’s like to be a person with a developmental disability in Arizona?

Arizona’s Developmental Disabilities Planning Council has released its second edition comprehensive review and analysis on the status of Arizona services, supports, and unmet needs for individuals with developmental disabilities and their families. To access the report, please click below on the link to download a PDF version of the report.

Comprehensive review and analysis_2016

Connect 2 Help Circle Receives Funding

Monday, September 21, 2015 Southwest Institute for Families and Children with special Needs (SWI) receives funding from The Arizona Community Foundation of Flagstaff and the ForesJuliana and Tracey at event Sept 2015t Highlands Foundation for Connect 2 Help Circle.  Tracy Grantham, Project Director of Connect 2 Help Circle, and Juliana Huereña, Operational Manager for SWI, attended the Arizona Community Foundation of Flagstaff’s 18th Annual Grants Presentation and Celebration of Nonprofit Organizations.  The event was held at the High Country Conference Center, adjacent to Northern Arizona University.  The ballroom was filled with over 100 organizations receiving funding from numerous donors.

Thanks to the generous donation, Connect 2 Help Circle will help families in the Flagstaff area access local resources and donations.  Examples of such needed sFF check and programervices include, shelter, clothing, books, furniture, gas money, and bus passes.  The goal of the project will be to meet the immediate basic needs of families and individuals not easily or readily met by government or traditional social service agencies.

The program has made a positive impact on the community with one family stating, “When we cannot get support from any other source, C2HC is there for us.  We can quickly and respectfully get emergency materials such as food and shoes for our kids, Thanks, C2HC.”

Last year the project was able to create a Beauty Day event for individuals involved in the domestic violence survivors and their children.  Several women came up to us and expressed their gratitude for such a wonderful experience.  A participant cried because it had been such loC2HC receiving funds2 closeupng time since she had felt worthy or touched in a positive way that did not cause her harm.  Everyone went home with a gift bag, a pamphlet on self-care and how to continue the learned pampered process at home when they were on their own.  The children were so appreciative of the day as well as many of them were living in a situation of transition and the unknown.  It was important for us to create an environment for them that was about feeling safe, having fun, and seeing the smiles on their mother’s faces.


C2HC would like to reach out to the community as an umbrella of a larger social service agency that has the capacity to store materials and donations received, as well as to increase the helper and network donor base.