The Va-LEND (Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities) program provides interdisciplinary training to professionals, family members and self-advocates.
There are 60 LEND programs located in 44 US states, with an additional six states and three territories reached through program partnerships. Collectively, they form a national network that shares information and resources and maximizes their impact. They work together to address national issues of importance to children with special health care needs and their families, exchange best practices and develop shared products. They also come together regionally to address specific issues and concerns.
LEND programs operate within a university system, usually as part of a University Center for Excellence (UCEDD) or other larger entity, and collaborate with local university hospitals and/or health care centers. This set-up gives them the expert faculty, facilities, and other resources necessary to provide exceptional interdisciplinary training and services.
Va-LEND is the largest federally funded project at the Partnership of People with Disabilities (Virginia's UCEED) within the Virginia Commonwealth University's School of Education. Va-LEND has trainees and faculty from 16 disciplines from 13 different Programs/Departments from 6 Schools at VCU, the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders at Longwood University.
The LENDs grew from the 1950s efforts of the Children’s Bureau (now the Maternal and Child Health Bureau) to identify children with disabilities as a Title V program priority. They are funded under the Autism Collaboration, Accountability, Research, Education, and Support (CARES) Act, and are administered by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB). While each LEND program is unique, with its own focus and expertise, they all provide interdisciplinary training, have faculty and trainees in a wide range of disciplines, and include parents or family members as paid program participants. They also share the following objectives:
- Advance the knowledge and skills of all child health professionals to improve health care delivery systems for children with developmental disabilities.
- Provide high-quality interdisciplinary education that emphasizes the integration of services from state and local agencies and organizations, private providers, and communities.
- Provide health professionals with skills that foster community-based partnerships.
- Promote innovative practices to enhance cultural competency, family-centered care, and interdisciplinary partnerships.
Virginia LEND was funded to continue our work preparing the state's workforce for providing person- and family-centered services to children with neurodevelopmental disabilities. Our grant from the U.S. Maternal and Child Health Bureau will allow us to continue our work through June of 2026. Learn more about our work by browsing this page, or by contacting us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Download our Va-LEND Brochure