Nationally, there is a need for more highly qualified professionals who have knowledge and experience in the use of evidence-based practices to meet the complex needs of infants, children, and adolescents with neurodevelopmental and other related disabilities, including autism (ASD/DD). Michigan shares this need and also has a number of unique regional and local needs related to geographic, demographic, and economic factors. Michigan is the 10th most populous state with a population of more than 10 million. Major metropolitan areas (e.g., Detroit and Flint) have culturally diverse populations and profound concentrations of families living in poverty. Large regions of the state are rural and sparsely populated, affording families limited access to needed diagnostic and treatment services.
Goals and Objectives:
The proposed Michigan LEND (MI-LEND) is a consortium of The Family Center (a Michigan Title V program) plus eight universities (Wayne State University, Michigan State University, Central Michigan University, Northern Michigan University, University of Michigan, University of Michigan-Dearborn, WMed, and Western Michigan University) that spans the state and serves more than 181,800 undergraduate, graduate, and professional students. MI-LEND will work in collaboration with Michigan's Title V program (Children's Special Health Care Services), the Governor's Autism Council, the Michigan Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, and other key statewide disability/advocacy organizations. As such, the MI-LEND program is poised to significantly expand interdisciplinary leadership training opportunities for graduate-level trainees from a wide variety of professional disciplines. MI-LEND's purpose is to address the complex needs of those with ASD/DD by: 1. Increasing the number of graduate/doctoral/postdoctoral students, family members, and individuals with disabilities prepared to address these needs; 2. Increasing the number of providers available to diagnose and treat these needs; 3. Enhancing clinical expertise and program capacity to improve care; and 4. Ensuring integration of family-centered perspectives into every level of the program including curriculum development, training, and program evaluation. The MI-LEND curriculum integrates a L.I.F.E. (Leadership, Interdisciplinary, Family- Profession Partnerships, and Equity) framework into all program activities to prepare graduate-level trainees to assume leadership positions in academia, clinical practice, public service, and advocacy organizations centered on ASD/DD. During the five-year program, a minimum of 75 long-term trainees will each complete >300 hours of didactic, clinical, community, and leadership activities. MI-LEND will also train an additional 125 medium-term and 1,500 short-term trainees over the project period. MI-LEND will provide continuing education and technical assistance activities at local, state, regional, and national levels.
A comprehensive evaluation plan with performance measurement data will be used to assess both process and outcome components. MI-LEND is also applying for the LEND supplement to improve services in rural communities in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan by enhancing access through telehealth.