Program Purpose

Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities (LEND) programs provide interdisciplinary training to enhance the clinical expertise and leadership skills of professionals dedicated to caring for individuals with neurodevelopmental and other related developmental disabilities (DD), including autism spectrum disorder (ASD), across their lifespan.

Funded through the Autism CARES Act of 2019, LEND programs promote education, early detection, and intervention in ASD/DD. LEND trainees participate in academic, clinical, leadership, and community opportunities and receive training in cultural and linguistic responsiveness and using family and person-centered approaches to care.

LEND programs aim to improve the health of individuals who have or are likely to develop neurodevelopmental or related disabilities by preparing trainees from a wide variety of professional disciplines to assume leadership roles and to ensure high levels of clinical competence. LEND programs:

  • Increase awareness of ASD/DD
  • Reduce barriers to screening and diagnosis of ASD/DD
  • Promote evidence-based interventions for individuals with ASD/DD
  • Train professionals to utilize valid screening tools to diagnose or rule out ASD/DD

Program Impact


In FY 2019, 83% of LEND graduates (five years following completion of the program) were working in an interdisciplinary manner to serve Maternal and Child Health (MCH) populations, and over 86% demonstrated field leadership in academic, clinical, public health practice, and/or public policy and related activities.

In FY 2019, LEND programs prepared 1,520 long-term trainees (more than 300 hours), 4,610 medium-term trainees (40–299 hours), and 15,631 short-term trainees (more than 40 hours). Over 25% of long-term trainees were from underrepresented racial groups and over 10% were Hispanic/Latino.


In FY 2019, 1,090 LEND faculty members from across the network representing at least 27 disciplines mentored trainees using innovative clinical and didactic curricula to increase the pipeline of professionals ready to work with children with ASD/DD.

Interdisciplinary Care

In FY 2019, LEND conducted over 105,307 interdisciplinary diagnostic evaluations to confirm or rule out ASD/DD.

Title V

In FY 2019, LEND programs reported collaborating with State Title V (MCH) agencies or other MCH-related programs on over 3,349 activities in areas of service, training, continuing education, technical assistance, product development, and research.

Program Locations

Territories Reached

American Samoa, Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Guam, Puerto Rico, Republic of Marshall Islands, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.


Division of MCH Workforce Development

The Division of MCH Workforce Development (DMCHWD), part of the Health Resources and Services Administration’s Maternal and Child Health Bureau, provides national leadership and direction in educating and training our nation’s current and future leaders in MCH. The division also provides leadership through state and community-based capacity-building programs.

Special emphasis is placed on the development and implementation of interprofessional, family- and person-centered, community-based, and culturally responsive systems of care across the entire life course.

DMCHWD supports programs established in federal legislation (Title V of the Social Security Act, the Autism CARES Act, American Rescue Plan Act, and the 21st Century CURES Act) to complement state and local health agency efforts. DMCHWD partners with state MCH programs, academic institutions, professional organizations, and other health training programs of the federal government to ensure that MCH workforce development programs are grounded in emerging and evidence-based practices.

In FY 2019, DMCHWD awarded 186 grants, an investment of approximately $57 million.

DMCHWD Training Website

Last Reviewed January 2022