1. MCH Workforce Development
  2. Funded Projects

Funded Projects

Virginia Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities

Project Website

Grant Status: Completed

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

Grantee Product(s):

Project Director(s):

Jennifer Accardo, MD
Virginia Commonwealth University
P.O. Box 980405
1000 East Marshall Street
Richmond, VA  23298
Phone: (804) 827-2100


Children with disabilities have needs that require supports and services fostering choices. Our priorities are to address health disparities, medical home access, and quality care through training the next generation of leaders, promoting community inclusion, and creating new collaborations.

Goals and Objectives:

Goal 1: Train the next generation of MCH leaders to improve health and address the needs of children and youth who are at risk for disabilities and their families through a life course approach. Objective 1: 1.1. Recruit and train a minimum of 16 long-term trainees (13 leadership and 3 ASD) from the core MCH disciplines annually. Objective 2: 1.2. Increase to 25% the long-term traines from under-represented groups by 2016. Objective 3: 1.3., 1.4. Train 20 medium-term trainees (15 ASD, 5 advanced) through course work, internships, advanced practica, and mentored leadership activities. 1.5. Train 1000 short-term trainees through courses and clinical rotations, annually. Goal 2: Serve as a state, regional, and national educational resource for health and related professionals in the MCH community to ensure quality care and improve health and related service systems. Objective 1: 2.1. Collaborate with other LEND and UCEDD programs and their trainees ot offer at least one national or regional continuing education program annually. Objective 2: 2.2. Offer and evaluate one statewide continuing education program in collaboration with Virginia Title V and related programs for health and related professionals annually. Objective 3: 2.3. Provide a minimum of 45 training events related to ASD and other DD to health and related professionals, families, self-advocates, and other community members annually. Goal 3: Provide consultation and TA to Title V and other national, state and local partners to increase access to community-based services and improve supports for children with ASD and other DD. Objective 1: 3.1. Provide at least 300 hours of TA/consultation to state and national Title V and MCH-related partners annually , by serving on task forces, committees, and policy forums. Objective 2: 3.2. Present findings from evidence-based practices and research related to ASD and other disabilities at a minimum of 2 MCH-related professional meetings or other discipline-specific conferences each year. Objective 3: 3.3. Produce and disseminate nationally a minimum of 15 (at least 2 products related to ASD) peer-reviewed journal articles, books and chapters, or educational products that are evidence-based and relevant to emerging MCH issues annually.


The Va-LEND curriculum is competency-based and emphasizes interdisciplinary training and leadership development. The program provides 12-24 months of didactic and distance courses, interactive seminars, clinical practica, a family mentorship experience, and planned policy activities. Faculty and trainees participate in continuing education, technical assistance, and research through Va-LEND, the Partnership for People with Disabilities (UCEDD), Title V, and other a collaborating agencies.


Collaborators include state and local health agencies, Virginia's Title V Program, the Virginia Department of Education, and the Virginia Behavioral Health and Developmental Services, Commonwealth Autism Service, and VCU's Autism Center for Excellence. Regional collaborative training activities are developed and planned with neighboring LEND and UCEDD Programs.


A comprehensive evaluation comprising national performance measures assesses the effectiveness of training, incorporating qualitative and quantitative methods. Trainee performance is evaluated through assessments and feedback from team members and families. Trainee data are tracked during and following completion of the program. System outcomes and impacts are measured with attention to health indicators for the state.