Maternal and Child Health in Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities


About LEND

WV LEND began at WVU in the early 1990’s. From inception, WV LEND has been housed at the WVUCED. Initially, LEND included mentors and trainees from the fields of audiology, PT, OT, SLP, nutrition, social work, and psychology. Today, our program continues to support trainees and mentors from multiple disciplines which impact the lives of individuals with disabilities and their families. Our LEND trainees include graduate students, self-advocates, community members, and family members of individuals with disabilities.

WV LEND is part of a national network of Maternal-Child Health trainings programs. Uniquely, WV LEND is located in the Appalachian Mountains and serves mostly rural or underserved populations. Our program is specifically designed to provide education and training centered on individuals with disabilities and their families who live in rural communities across West Virginia.

From Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD)

Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and related Disabilities (LEND) programs provide long-term, graduate level interdisciplinary training as well as interdisciplinary services and care. The purpose of the LEND training program is to improve the health of infants, children, and adolescents with disabilities. They accomplish this by preparing trainees from diverse professional disciplines to assume leadership roles in their respective fields and by ensuring high levels of interdisciplinary clinical competence.

LEND programs operate within a university system, usually as part of a University Center for Excellence (UCEDD) or other larger entity, and collaborate with local university hospitals and/or health care centers. This set-up gives them the expert faculty, facilities, and other resources necessary to provide exceptional interdisciplinary training and services.

There are 52 LEND programs located in 44 US states, with an additional six states and three territories reached through program partnerships. Collectively, they form a national network that shares information and resources and maximizes their impact. They work together to address national issues of importance to children with special health care needs and their families, exchange best practices and develop shared products. They also come together regionally to address specific issues and concerns.

While each LEND program is unique, with its own focus and expertise, they all provide interdisciplinary training, have faculty and trainees in a wide range of disciplines, and include parents or family members as paid program participants. They also share the following objectives:

  1. Advance the knowledge and skills of all child health professionals to improve health care delivery systems for children with developmental disabilities.
  2. Provide high-quality interdisciplinary education that emphasizes the integration of services from state and local agencies and organizations, private providers, and communities.
  3. Provide health professionals with skills that foster community-based partnerships.
  4. Promote innovative practices to enhance cultural competency, family-centered care, and interdisciplinary partnerships.

The LENDs grew from the 1950s efforts of the Children's Bureau (now the Maternal and Child Health Bureau) to identify children with disabilities as a Title V program priority. They are funded under the Autism Collaboration, Accountability, Research, Education, and Support (CARES) Act, and are administered by the Health Resources and Service's Administration's (HRSA) Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB).