1. MCH Workforce Development
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Funded Projects

Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities

Project Website

Grant Status: Completed

Training Category: Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Other Related Disabilities (LEND)

Project Director(s):

Jennifer Smith, PsyD
Program Director
Cincinnati Children's Hospital
Medical Center Division of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics
University of Cincinnati
MLC 4002, 3333 Burnet Avenue
Cincinnati, OH  45229-3039
Phone: 513-803-2365


Need to increase the number/diversity of professionals to work with children with DD and their families to provide: 1) evidence-based diagnosis/treatment; 2) culturally competent care; and 3) leadership in systems of care, policy/advocacy, and research to ensure that best evidence is used.

Goals and Objectives:

Goal 1: Provide interdisciplinary leadership training/specialized disciplinarytraining to long-term trainees from a range of health-related disciplines, including family members. For each project year: Objective 1: 23 long-term LEND trainees successfully complete the Interdisciplinary LEND Core Curriculum: Core Course, Interdisciplinary Leadership Seminar, Seminar in Evidence-based Methods and Life-long Learning, Interdisciplinary Training Team, and Disciplinary Clinical Experience. Objective 2: "Long-term LEND Trainees" represent at least nine of the LEND disciplines. Objective 3: Thirty "Other Long-term Trainees" will participate in specialized disciplinary and interdisciplinary experiences. Goal 2: Recruit long-term trainees who represent the diversity of the population served and implement strategies to increase careers among undergraduates from under-represented groups. For each project year: Objective 1: Ensure ongoing implementation of the four elements of the CCHMC LEND Diversity Recruitment Strategy. Objective 2: Continue to conduct targeted recruitment efforts to ensure selection of qualified trainees from diverse population groups, resulting in 20% of all long-term trainees in the first year of the project period being from underrepresented groups. Objective 3: Collaborate with undergraduate programs that foster development for careers in the science and health professions to provide opportunities for minority undergraduates from UC and surrounding universities to explore MCH careers in our setting and to strengthen their qualifications for graduate study. Goal 3: Carry out interdisciplinary leadership training based on MCH Leadership Competencies and utilizing instructional methods that are optimal to prepare them for leadership roles. For each project year: Objective 1: Implement the Interdisciplinary Leadership Core Curriculum and evaluate using the five components of the LEND's evaluation plan. Objective 2: Hold monthly meetings of the Interdisciplinary Training IDTC and semi-annual meetings Leadership Training Advisory Committee to monitor progress of the LEND Program in attaining its goals and objectives. Objective 3: Based on review of feedback and outcomes of the previous year, conduct annual review of the five components of the Interdisciplinary Leadership Core Curriculum and revise and update using new guidance and evidence. Goal 4: Increase the number of professionals with the knowledge/skills to provide evidence-based screening, diagnosis, and treatment for children with or suspected to have DD. For each project year: Objective 1: Provide all long-term trainees with learning experiences (within the Core Curriculum or through specialized disciplinary training experiences for other long-term trainees) focusing on autism and other developmental disabilities. Objective 2: All long-term LEND trainees will successfully complete two LEND Autism Training Modules as part of the Interdisciplinary Leadership Core Curriculum. Objective 3: 100 "Medium-term trainees" will have 40 to 299 hours of training by faculty and staff. Goal 5: Prepare Long-term LEND Trainees with the knowledge/skills/values to be future leaders who are prepared to engage in policy/advocacy endeavors that decrease health disparities. For each project year: Objective 1: The Public Health perspective and elements of Life Course Theory, including social determinants of health and health disparities, are incorporated into the Core Curriculum using methods such as case-based discussions and LEND Leadership Projects. Objective 2: LEND trainees complete the Community Resources LEND Leadership Project. Objective 3: The Core Curriculum includes specific sessions developed and offered in collaboration with state and national partners on federal and state level disabilities policy, creating partnerships for solving policy implementation challenges, and on educating legislators.


The Project Director and Associate Director work with the Core LEND Faculty and the LEND Training Advisory Committee (LTAC) to create the Interdisciplinary LEND Core Curriculum, guided by MCH Leadership Competencies, the Autism CARES Act, and the Life Course Framework. The core values of cultural competence, valuing of diversity, and family-centeredness are at the foundation of LEND. Leadership education and continuing education instructional methodology is based on adult learning principles and includes multiple opportunities for active and collaborative learning. Distance learning methods and technology are used to provide increased access to students and professionals in areas without a LEND Program. Clinical components of LEND and other training take place in our extensive interdisciplinary evaluation and treatment programs, including the Kelly O'Leary Center for Autism Spectrum Disorders.


Extensive collaborations at the national, state, and local levels with MCH-related organizations provide opportunities to benefit children with DD and their families, to develop research and training jointly, and to influence policy. Examples include participation: as a site for the Autism Treatment Network and DBPNet research networks; with UCEDDs in Ohio, Kentucky, New York, and the U.S. Virgin Islands; and on AUCD, MCH and state Title V workgroups and committees on training.


The multifaceted evaluation process has 4 components: measuring program performance on stated objectives and MCH Performance Measures; tracking trainee performance with exams, evaluation of clinical performance and assignments, and later through the long-term trainee follow-up survey; evaluation of training program by long-term trainees and continuing education participants; and, assessing program performance in meeting the needs of the community, people with disabilities, and family members.