By Scott Cummings
At Care1st Health Plan Arizona, we value giving back to the communities we serve. When we saw a growing need for human services in the underserved Southwest Valley of Maricopa County, we seized the opportunity to find a solution that would benefit not only our members in the area, but the community as a whole.
During the Great Recession, the City of Avondale was hit particularly hard. Approximately 20 percent of homes went into foreclosure and a fragmented human services infrastructure could not fully support its growing number of residents in need.
In 2009, we launched the Care1st Avondale Resource Center in historic Avondale, Arizona through an innovative public-private partnership with Care1st Health Plan Arizona, the City of Avondale and First Things First. Our goal was to develop a facility that served as a safe environment for families and children to connect to needed resources. The center is a one-stop hub of social and human services including healthcare enrollment, Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), parenting classes, financial literacy workshops, job assistance and more.
The premise of the center is to provide quality, holistic services and resources to promote positive health outcomes, greater self-sufficiency and lower costs to the healthcare system. Currently, there are 69 community-based organizations delivering services out of the center and, on average, 4,700 people walk through our doors every month.
The Care1st Avondale Resource Center would not be where it is today without the extraordinary commitment of our core partners. Care1st Health Plan Arizona provides annual operational costs and staff to support the center’s day-to-day needs. The City of Avondale maintains the facility and manages operations and staff. First Things First offers grants to support early childhood education to prepare children from birth to five years old for success in school.
In 2014, the Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG) recognized the center with the “Desert Peaks Award” for providing outstanding services to the community. Similarly, WESTMARC honored the center with the “Best of the West Award” in 2010 for improving the quality of life of residents in the West Valley.
We’re proud to be part of a family-center facility that will continue to shape a better tomorrow for years to come.
Scott Cummings is the state president of Care1st Health Plan Arizona