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Funded Projects

Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities Program (LEND)

Project Website

Grant Status: Active

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

Project Director(s):

Jenean Castillo, PhD
Westchester Institute for Human Development
Westchester Institute for Human Development
Cedarwood Hall Room 332
Valhalla, NY  10595
Phone: 914-493-1035


There is an urgent need to increase the number and diversity of leaders and professionals with knowledge and skills to work with children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and other developmental disabilities (DD) and their families to provide: 1) leadership in systems of care, policy and advocacy, research, and training to ensure optimal outcomes for individuals with ASD/DD, and their families; 2) evidence-based diagnosis/rule-out and treatment for children with or at risk for ASD/DD; and 3) culturally and linguistically competent services and supports to diverse populations. Based on demonstrated accomplishments in training, education, research, dissemination, and collaboration, WIHD LEND will provide interdisciplinary leadership education, continuing education, and technical assistance (TA), and will disseminate products, research, and training models that meet these needs.

Goals and Objectives:

(SELECTED) During each project year, provide: "long-term" interdisciplinary leadership training (300+ hours) to 21 diverse LEND trainees from 10-12 disciplines, including individuals with ASD/DD and family members of people with ASD/DD; "medium-term" training (40-299 hours) to 40 students; "short-term" training (fewer than 40 hours) to 500 students; TA to 2000 professionals; and continuing education to 1000 professionals. Many offerings concern evidence-based screening, diagnosis, & treatment of ASD. Each year, 35% of LEND trainees will be from underrepresented minority/racial backgrounds. In territories without LEND Programs: we will recruit LEND trainees to participate by distance from Puerto Rico (PR) (2/year) and the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI) (2/year).


The Project Director (PD) works with the highly qualified core LEND faculty to create and offer the LEND Interdisciplinary Core Curriculum (LICC), guided by the MCH Leadership Competencies and the Autism CARES Act to provide an optimal balance of academic, clinical and community training. Training on cultural competence and family-centeredness are at the foundation of the LICC. Instructional methodology supports collaborative learning based on adult learning principles. Distance learning methods and technology are used to provide interdisciplinary training to students and professionals in US territories without a LEND Program.


WIHD LEND's extensive collaborations at the national, state, and local levels with Maternal and Child Health (MCH)-related organizations extend project impact. Examples include collaboration with LEND Programs and University Centers for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities in New York, PR, USVI, Vermont, Indiana, and Iowa; participation in the nationwide LEND network and on workgroups, councils and committees with the Association of University Centers on Disabilities, MCH, New York State organizations and agencies, and others.


The PD is responsible for the rigorous, centrally managed evaluation process through which high quality data is analyzed to ensure continuous quality improvement. The process tracks progress in meeting our stated objectives and targets for the MCH Performance Measures.