Skip to content

Other ways to search: Events Calendar | UTHSC News

LEND: Leadership Trainee Program

The UTHSC Center on Developmental Disabilities offers a Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities (LEND) program to provide long-term, graduate level interdisciplinary training as well as interdisciplinary services and care. The purpose of the LEND training program is to improve the health of infants, children, and adolescents with disabilities. This is accomplished by preparing trainees from diverse professional disciplines to assume leadership roles in their respective fields and by insuring high levels of interdisciplinary clinical competence.

This program is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of an award totaling $623,558 with 10% percentage financed with non-governmental sources. The contents are those of the faculty/staff/author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by HRSA, HHS or the U.S. Government.

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 currently funded under the 2006 Combating Autism Act and are administered by the Health Resources and Service's Administration's (HRSA) Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB).

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.

There are currently 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. To see more information about the network of LEND trainees visit the AUCD Trainee Page.

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:

  1. advancing the knowledge and skills of all child health professionals to improve health care delivery systems for children with developmental disabilities
  2. providing high-quality interdisciplinary education that emphasizes the integration of services from state and local agencies and organizations, private providers, and communities
  3. providing health professionals with skills that foster community-based partnerships
  4. promoting innovative practices to enhance cultural competency, family-centered care, and interdisciplinary partnerships

MCH Timeline: History, Legacy and Resources for Education and Practice, traces the history of maternal and child health in the U.S., provides in-depth modules on topics such as MCH 101, MCH Systems of Care, Infant Mortality and MCH Performance and Accountability, and allows you to search for topical areas of interest.

MCH Training Core Competencies

Support trainees, faculty, continuing education and technical assistance to train the next generation of leaders in maternal and child health. Emphasis on interdisciplinary, family-centered, culturally competent care with a population-focused, public health approach.

The CDD Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities (LEND) training focuses on leadership in advocacy, ethics, research, and systems change through clinical programs, didactic instruction, and research.

Students from a variety of disciplines and universities come to the CDD for observation or specific training purposes. This training is funded by a grant from the Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB) to support trainees, faculty, continuing education and technical assistance to train the next generation of leaders in maternal and child health. Emphasis is on interdisciplinary, family-centered, life-course, culturally competent care with a population-focused and public health approach.

The MCHB vision for the 21st century is that all children, youth, and families will live and thrive in healthy communities served by a quality workforce that helps assure their health and well being. Visit the MCHB website for more information on training programs. 


To inquire about or to apply for traineeship at the CDD, please contact our LEND Director, Toni Whitaker, MD (

Please include your discipline, current academic program, and contact information in the email.

Professional Programs

May 26, 2022