1. MCH Workforce Development
  2. Funded Projects

Funded Projects

MCH Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities

Grant Status: Active

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

Project Director(s):

Louise Kido Iwaishi, MD
John A. Burns School of Medicine
Department of Pediatrics
University of Hawaii
1319 Punahou Street, Rm 745
Honolulu, HI  96826-1072
Phone: 808-369-1240 F


In Hawaii, children and youth with Autism Spectrum Disorder and other developmental disabilities (CYASD/DD), experience notable health, educational and economic disparities. This is especially true for Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander (NHPI) children. Persistent and worsening health professional shortages, especially in rural and underserved communities of Hawaii, have further limited access to even basic services and resources for CYASD/DD and their families. The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has greatly impacted Hawaii's communities, brought disruptions in educational and health services, and worsened social and economic determinants for CYSHN and their families. While schools have made efforts to welcome Special Education students back on campus, concerns over Covid-19 infection keep many children and youth with special needs at home, exacerbating negative outcomes. The pandemic has also disproportionately impacted NHPI across the nation and underscored inequities, discrimination, and other challenges they have faced. The pandemic has thus highlighted the need for both short and long-term solutions to increase timely access to quality services and resources for CYASD/DD, especially NHPI and other underserved populations.


The Hawaii MCH LEND Program (HILEND) proposes an innovative, interdisciplinary program to develop Hawaii professionals to become leaders in the service and support of the uniquely diverse CYASD/DD in our communities. We will recruit and enroll at least 60 long-term, 25 medium-term, and 250 short-term multi-disciplinary trainees, from across Hawaii, to complete the program. We will implement a project-based interdisciplinary community-centered curriculum for HILEND trainees, with an emphasis on culturally-responsive Autism screening, diagnosis, intervention, and systems evaluation. We will expand the clinical expertise and leadership skills of professionals to serve Hawaii's diverse families by implementing and a curriculum that promotes trainee knowledge and skills related to equity, Hawaii's NHPI cultures, and challenges faced by CYASD/DD and their families. We will host visiting LEND and other MCH program trainees, to participate both face-to-face and online activities. To ensure we meet long-term needs of Hawaii's CYASD/DD, we will create a pipeline of NHPI HILEND trainees and faculty members. We will also work with the University of Hawaii Center for Disability Studies to conduct a Needs Assessment, then formulate a plan to address the needs of HILEND trainees, potential NHPI trainees and faculty, and other professionals who support NHPI CYASD/DD. Additionally, we will mentor and support junior faculty and advocates to take a greater role in the development and implementation of the HILEND curriculum.


Children and youth with ASD/DD and their families, especially those from Hawaii's neighbor islands, rural Oahu, and NHPI communities.