In the spring of 2001, the University of Utah School of Medicine-Department of Pediatrics and Utah State University-the Center for Persons with Disabilities (a University Center for Excellence in Develepmental Disabilty) become a LEND Program. The URLEND (Utah Regional Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities) training program was initially developed as a partnership between the hospital training of the University of Utah and the University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities at Utah State University. Our initial collaboration grew to include another university within Utah (Brigham Young University) and the neighboring states of Idaho, Montana, North Dakota and Wyoming. Through our use of technology, the URLEND program reaches all corners of these rural and frontier western states.

LEND training programs were historically co-located within medical campuses and because Idaho, Montana and Wyoming do not have medical colleges, the training that this program provides would not have been available with out this collaboration.

There are currently 52 LEND Programs in 44 states and these programs work together in a national network to share information and resources and maximize their impact. The LEND training programs 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.

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; and
  4. promoting innovative practices to enhance cultural competency, family-centered care, and interdisciplinary partnerships.

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 2006 Combating Autism Act and are administered by the Health Resources and Service's Administration's (HRSA) Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB) http://www.aucd.org/template/page.cfm?id=473