1. MCH Workforce Development
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Funded Projects

The Maine LEND Program

Project Website

Grant Status: Completed

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

Project Director(s):

Eileen Ricci, PT, DPT, MS, PCS
Project Director
University of New England
716 Stevens Avenue
Portland, ME  04103-2656
Phone: 207-221-4588


Basic Details - The Maine LEND program is a collaboration between the University of New England and Maine Medical Center. The University of New England is home to the UNE Westbrook College of Health Professions, College of Osteopathic Medicine and School of Community and Population Health. Maine Medical Center is the state's largest tertiary hospital, and home to the Barbara Bush Children's Hospital, Maine's only children's hospital. The Maine LEND program will be the state's first Maine-based comprehensive and Maine-led LEND initiative, whose goal is to train healthcare providers, parents, educators and others to improve the health of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and other Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (ND). Project Director, Eileen Ricci, PT, DPT, MS, PCS, is Associate Clinical Professor in the UNE College of Health Professions. Co-Project Director, Matthew Siegel, MD, is Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Pediatrics at Tufts University School of Medicine, and Director of the Developmental Disorders Program of Maine Behavioral Healthcare. Need & Design - In Maine the two highest areas of need for children with ND are: (1) autism spectrum disorder (ASD) (i.e. timely diagnosis, effective services, and transition to workforce and social integration at all ages), and; (2) complex cerebral palsy (CP) and other neuromotor disabilities (i.e. early identification and diagnosis, provision of integrated clinical and community services, and increasing participation in family and peer activities such as school and workplace). For the LEND population, screening and care coordination for children with developmental disabilities is being introduced into Maine medical homes and other practices through pilot projects, but long-term improvement depends on ensuring that physicians and affiliated health professionals are trained and can lead in the identification and treatment of children and others with ASD/ND. Providing community-based support for children with ASD/ND and their families is also crucial if these children are to be mainstreamed or remain mainstreamed in their schools. In particular, the ability of schools to work with families and children to meet the child's educational, functional and emotional needs is a key to success. The Maine LEND program recognizes this, and will work with existing health and school-linked initiatives to provide information and support. The Maine LEND program will leverage the rich clinical, policy and research resources of UNE and MMC to train promising professionals in interdisciplinary approaches to assessment, treatment and systems leadership. We will provide a strong curriculum that includes didactic and experiential learning, provider conferences, 'parents as experts' conferences for parent support, research opportunities, and innovative fellowships. The program will: (1) deliver high-quality interdisciplinary training; (2) support innovative practice models; (3) increase knowledge among practicing clinicians; (4) support innovative research; (5) build and strengthen community and rural partnerships through affiliated programming and partnerships, and; (6) engage underserved ethnic populations to deliver services and increase knowledge (e.g. Somali and other immigrant and refugee populations, and the Native American population).