The Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (LEND) Program is one component of the Maternal and Child Health Care Bureau (MCHB) Division of Research, Training and Education. The Division was designed to enhance health professionals' abilities to meet the needs of children and women and to become leaders in their fields. LEND Programs are funded by the MCHB to ensure health-care and related professionals are qualified to address the needs of children with special health care needs and their families. Two themes characterize LEND's history: an evolving definition of children with developmental disabilities, and the initiation of community-based, coordinated, inclusive systems of care for children and families.
In the early 1950s, the Children's Bureau (MCHB's original name) began to emphasize services for children with mental retardation. The bureau provided support for 4 demonstration projects that developed interdisciplinary clinical services for these children. By 1957, states were developing diagnostic, consultation, and education clinics and shortly after the Children's Bureau began providing grants (the prototypes to the LEND programs) to train interdisciplinary teams to serve children with mental retardation. In 1963 President Kennedy established the first University Affiliated Facility (UAF) to research and treat mental retardation. The Children's Bureau supported training for persons providing services in UAFs. The UAF name was later changed to University Affiliated Program (UAP) and most recently to University Centers for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities Education, Research, and Service (UCEDD).
In 1994, MCHB changed the name of its grant program from MCH/UAP to LEND. This reflected the emphasis on interdisciplinary leadership training and clinical expertise to health professionals in the disabilities field. Current trends include preparing leaders in the provision of family-centered, community-based, coordinated, and culturally competent services and systems of care. There are currently 34 LEND Programs funded in 27 states and Washington D.C.