The Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities (LEND) Training Program, under the directorship of Drs. Stephen Hooper and Angela Rosenberg, is designed to improve the health of infants, children, and adolescents with disabilities and special health care needs. This goal is accomplished by preparing trainees from diverse professional disciplines to assume leadership roles in their respective fields. The North Carolina LEND Program will address five key goals: (1) Advancing the knowledge and skills of the full range of child health professionals to improve health care delivery systems for children (and adults) with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and related intellectual/developmental disabilities (I/DD); (2) Providing high-quality interdisciplinary education to health professionals which emphasizes the integration of services supported by the state, local agencies, organizations, private providers, and communities; (3) Providing a wide range of health professionals with the skills needed to foster a community-based partnership of health resources and community leadership; (4) promoting innovative practice models that enhance cultural competency, partnerships among disciplines, and family-centered approaches to care; and (5) demonstrating that the proposed interdisciplinary training opportunities will increase diagnosis of, or rule-out, individuals with ASD or other I/DD.
To accomplish these goals, the North Carolina LEND Program has worked collaboratively with numerous departments, divisions, and other institutes on campus, created significant partnerships with key state agencies (e.g., Division of Public Health, Department of Public Instruction), and established innovative interdisciplinary clinical services at the CIDD and in the community to provide important developmental services to underserved populations and children with special health care needs. The LEND Program also provides funding for graduate students from a wide range of departments across the university, training for postdoctoral scholars in both clinical and research endeavors, and continuing education programs that serve state, regional, and national audiences interested in intellectual/developmental disabilities and children with special health care needs. A key component of the LEND Program is its devotion to leadership training, such that all trainees are groomed to be leaders in their respective fields and to work from the lens of an interdisciplinary perspective. Dr. Hooper noted, “This funding will continue our outstanding interdisciplinary training to a wide range of graduate and post-graduate trainees, and it will serve our outreach efforts throughout the UNC system and to our state and national partners. Further, the LEND Program will contribute to the development of our next generation of leaders in the broad field of intellectual/developmental disabilities.” The LEND Program at the CIDD has been funded for five years. For additional information on the North Carolina LEND Program, please contact Dr. Stephen R. Hooper, Director of Training and Education at the CIDD (Stephen.firstname.lastname@example.org).