University of California - Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (UC-LEND)
at UCLA/UC Riverside
Trainee Liaison: Elizabeth Baker
UC-LEND Program Coordinator
UCLA Jonathan and Karin Fielding School of Public Health
Box 951772, 61-234A CHS
For more information about UC-LEND, please visit http://www.uc-lend.org./ Inquires about the program can be submitted online at http://www.uc-lend.org/contact-us/ or directed to Program Coordinator Angela Reyes.
California boasts some of the nation’s best medical and social service resources for children and their families. However, in the near-neighboring counties of Los Angeles and Riverside—two of the most populous counties in the state—thousands of children with special health care needs lack access to comprehensive, coordinated care. The service sector caring for individuals with neurodevelopmental disabilities (ND) has especially struggled to build the capacity to respond to families’ needs in the face of the rising rates of children and adolescents entering the system with conditions such as Autism Spectrum Disorder. Without appropriate early intervention, these youths are at-risk for poor physical, mental, and social health outcomes as they transition into adulthood.
The University of California - Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (UC-LEND) program was founded in 2016 to unite pre-professionals and providers across Los Angeles and Riverside counties with the vision that high quality, collaborative training could strengthen the regional system of care. UC-LEND focuses on trainees’ development of a unique set of competencies including: (a) learning how to provide appropriate services to transitional age youth with ND; (b) understanding and responding to the barriers posed by the intersectionality of ND and socioeconomic status, race, etc.; and (c) integrating emerging evidence from specialized disciplines such as neuroscience and psychiatry into clinical practice, case management, and program development. For resident and internist trainees in the program, UC-LEND emphasizes the development of skills related to diagnosing and treating ND in the pediatric primary care setting, as well as connecting patients’ families with critical community resources.
UC-LEND Training is overseen by program director Dr. Alice Kuo, MD, PhD, who has joint appointments at the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine and the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, and a core team of faculty from UCLA and the University of California, Riverside (UCR) representing the social welfare, psychology, public health, education, psychiatry, and neurology disciplines. The UC-LEND program invites trainees to participate at three different training levels—short-term, medium-term, and long-term—in order to best engage a community of interested individuals with differing schedules, qualifications, and career goals. While all trainees attend seminars and workshops, long-term trainees are typically graduate or post-doctoral students who complete a minimum of 300 training hours in academic coursework, clinical rotations, leadership advocacy, and research. A special long-term training track is available to pediatric neurology residents. UC-LEND’s first cohort of long-term trainees (2016-2017) includes 10 UCLA and UCR graduate students enrolled in clinical psychology, public health, education, and social welfare programs.
As part of their training, long-term UC-LEND trainees complete interdisciplinary capstone projects that address gaps in translational research, services, or policies for youths living with ND in Los Angeles and Riverside counties. Capstone projects are collaborative in nature and give trainees an opportunity to draw on their coursework and clinical experiences to improve real problems in their communities. Trainees in the 2018-2019 cohort are continuing and building upon past cohort progress on capstone projects that span from partnering with a local high school that serves transition-aged youth to assist in continuous quality improvement efforts of its vocational program, to establishing a resource database that county departments can share with families who are having difficulties locating appropriate services and supports.