1. MCH Workforce Development
  2. Funded Projects

Funded Projects

Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities (LEND) Training Program Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center/University of Cincinnati (CCHMC/UC)

Project Website

Grant Status: Active

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

Project Director(s):

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


Children and youth with developmental disabilities (DD) and autism spectrum disorder (ASD) often require specialized services with providers from various disciplines across multiple systems. As these individuals transition to adulthood, services become even more limited and systems more fragmented. There is a shortage of qualified providers in the state of Ohio and across the country to provide evidence-based care to these individuals and their families.

Goals and Objectives:

Cincinnati LEND aims to provide an interdisciplinary leadership training program that combines academic, clinical, and community opportunities in a cultural responsive and patient-/family-centered manner to the next generation of leaders committed to serving individuals with ASD/DD. These leaders will include individuals from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups to reflect the broader population of the Tristate region of Southwest Ohio. Family members of individuals with ASD/DD, self-advocates with lived experience, practicing professionals, and graduate students from various disciplines and programs will form an interdisciplinary cohort who will learn with, and from, each other under the mentorship of nationally-recognized faculty. Cincinnati LEND trainees will demonstrate exceptional clinical competence in screening, evaluating, diagnosing, and providing evidence-based interventions in an interdisciplinary manner to individuals with ASD/DD across their lifespan. In addition, they will participate in a robust leadership curriculum to build skills in policy and advocacy, research, and quality improvement strategies that can lead to more comprehensive systems of care for these individuals. As a trusted partner in the community, Cincinnati LEND trainees and faculty will continue to provide continuing education and technical assistance to family members and practicing professionals from various community organizations and agencies at local, state, and national levels.


Cincinnati LEND Faculty work as a cohesive team to develop and refine the Interdisciplinary LEND Curriculum (ILC), guided by MCH Leadership Competencies, the Autism CARES Act, Life Course Theory, social determinants of health, Healthy People 2030, Bright Futures, and other MCH initiatives. The ILC consists of five elements: 1) Disciplinary Clinical Experiences, 2) Interdisciplinary Leadership Seminar, 3) Interdisciplinary Training Team, 4) Core Course and 5) Seminar in Evidence-based Methods. Long-term trainees from a minimum of 12 disciplines participate together in the nine-month, at least 300-hour ILC while concurrently pursuing graduate or postgraduate training in an MCH profession, parenting, or being a sibling of, a child with ASD/DD, living with ASD/DD, or working in the field. Leadership education and continuing education methods are based on adult learning theory and include multiple opportunities for interdisciplinary learning. Clinical components of LEND occur in state-of-the-art clinical settings within the Division of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center.


Cincinnati LEND's multifaceted evaluation process leads to continuous improvement of the program through measuring program performance on stated objectives and MCH Performance Measures, tracking trainee performance during and after participation in the LEND program, and measuring satisfaction from LEND trainees and continuing education participants. Cincinnati LEND disseminates project curricula, products, scholarly activity, and training approaches through publications in scholarly journals and presentations at local, state, national, and international conferences.