1. MCH Workforce Development
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Funded Projects

The UNE Maine LEND Program

Project Website

Grant Status: Active

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
11 Hills Beach Road
Biddeford, ME  04005
Phone: 207-221-4588

Goals and Objectives:

In 2016 UNE initiated the first Maine-only LEND program. Since then we have enrolled 881 trainees in a variety of program roles, including 53 long-term intensive trainees; developed a Maine LEND Pediatric Physical Therapy Residency Program which is on track for accreditation in 2021; increased ASD/ND screenings statewide, particularly in rural areas; provided focused parent and family involvement and support through a number of initiatives; and advanced innovative best practice through fellowships, mentoring, and publication of posters, articles and commentaries in several journals and conferences. Our target population includes children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Cerebral Palsy (CP) and other neurodevelopmental disabilities (ND), Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS), and Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). During the new program period the Maine LEND program will address the screening and intervention needs of the target population and their families by continuing to build interdisciplinary capacity statewide, growing and strengthening its current initiatives, and developing innovative new initiatives that focus on engaging providers, families, and community-based organizations. The program has leveraged the rich clinical, policy and research resources of UNE, our partners, and numerous community-based agencies and advocacy groups, to train professionals in interdisciplinary approaches to assessment, treatment and systems leadership. During this period we will further address the needs of the target population by: (1) Increasing Interdisciplinary Training, including introducing new program components to enhance the impact of LEND on the lives of children and families, and growing the new Pediatric PT Residency program. (2) Providing Intervention and Support at our primary practice training sites; (3) Reaching Practicing Professionals through the UNE-based Maine AHEC Network; (4) Supporting Innovative Research, particularly on early identification of infants at high risk for cerebral palsy; (5) Strengthening Community Links and Address Rural Access by expanding our work with community based organizations and Maine's Title V MCH Program; and (6) Addressing Underserved Populations, particularly Maine's Native American population and the state's growing asylum/refugee population.


The Maine LEND Program will continually analyze and assess our proposed programmatic statewide education and delivery systems and methods, and design and implement innovative initiatives to support, enhance and/or expand access or services to the target population(s). The development of the Pediatric PT Residency was informed by this continual analysis. We will also ensure Maine LEND program viability and strength during and after the COVID-19 public health emergency, using virtual learning technologies where needed. The pandemic has implications for, and presents challenges to the way in which program components are delivered. Since implementation of emergency measures by the State, UNE has enacted its 'UNE Onward Plan', which provides medical guidance around COVID-19 for students, staff and faculty. The public health restrictions also present considerable and disproportionate challenges to our target populations, a challenge that we will also address.