Alaska LEND Without Walls

Project Profile

MCHB Program: Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Other Related Disabilities (LEND)
Institution: University of Alaska at Anchorage
Location: Anchorage, AK
Region: 10
Project Director:

Karen M. Ward, MD
Phone: 907-264-6250


Needs to be addressed

Access to health services for children and youth with developmental disabilities in Alaska is seriously challenged by shortages across the professional workforce. Alaska shares this problem with other rural and frontier states, but challenges are magnified by a diversity of populations widely dispersed across the vast landmass of Alaska. The purpose of this proposal is to continue the Alaska LEND Without Walls program to Grow Our Own professionals to improve the health of infants, children, and adolescents who have, or are at risk for developing autism or other developmental disabilities (ASD/DD), and their families.

Proposed Services

Goals of the program: 1) Increase the capacity of the workforce trained to meet the complex needs of individuals with ASD/DD by enhancing the expertise of practicing professionals, families and self-advocacy dedicated to working with and improving the system of care for individuals with ASD/DD; 2) Provide distance delivered graduate-level education that includes academic, clinical, leadership, and community-based learning opportunities in an interdisciplinary and person/family centered manner; 3) Engage with local, state, and national programs and agencies to improve the system of care for people with disabilities; and 4) Engage in the national network of LEND programs to foster collaboration, coordinate program efforts, disseminate research to the field, and provide peer mentorship opportunities. Each year the Alaska LEND program provides a distance delivered interdisciplinary graduate training for 12 Long-Term Trainees (LTTs - at least 300 hours competency-based training) and 3 Advanced Medium-Term Trainees (AMTTs - at least 150 hours) in 10 disciplines: Family, Medicine, Nursing, Occupational Therapy, Speech Language Pathology, Special Education, Social Work, Public Health, Self-Advocacy, and Psychology. Core content areas include effective tools for ASD/DD screening and diagnosis; public health systems and perspectives; cultural and linguistic responsiveness; health equity and diversity/social determinants of health; quality improvement and evidence-based practice; person/family centered care and transition across the life course. Each year at least 3 continuing education events and 10 technical assistance activities are conducted in collaboration with community agencies. Short- and medium-term training is provided for at least 50 healthcare and human service professionals.

Population Served

The Alaska LEND program has a statewide reach. Trainee recruitment targets Alaskans who reflect the rural and cultural diversity of the state. About half are from rural/frontier areas. Children and youth with ASD/DD who receive services from trainees are typically eligible for Part C and Part B services. They are often from health disparity populations and eligible for Medicaid programs.