NJ Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities
Preparing the next generation of health and allied health leaders to address the needs of children and young adults
NJ Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities (NJLEND) is New Jersey’s Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities program. NJLEND provides graduate-level interdisciplinary, leadership training aimed at preparing the next generation of health and allied health leaders to address the needs of children and young adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder, health disparities, cultural competence, related developmental disabilities, and other maternal and child health populations. The graduate trainees are paired with a NJLEND Mentor Family and have two unique experiences in a home visit and in a service system interaction such as the childs medical appointment, therapy session or IEP meeting. Mentor Families receive a stipend in appreciation of their participation in the trainees’ education.
In addition to interdisciplinary, leadership education, LEND focuses on developing future health care professionals to provide family-centered care to diverse patients. SPAN has a unique collaboration with The Boggs Center and recruits the Mentor Families who are interested in this parent leadership opportunity during the months of July and August. All NJLEND trainees are paired with a Mentor Family who hosts at least two unique experiences with the trainee. The first experience is a home visit and allows the trainee to observe the child in his or her own environment. The second is a service system interaction which can be the child’s IEP meeting, a medical appointment, therapy session or other interaction with a system or agency. The Mentor Family program gives the Trainee Fellows the opportunity to see the challenges and obstacles that families with a child with special healthcare needs address.
What Our Families Say
My daughter and I loved meeting our Trainee Fellow, who spent 90 minutes engaging with us in our home to hear about her medical needs. Then the second visit was at a medical appointment, and the Trainee spent 30 minutes looking through the binder of medical information and offered my family great insight.”
I participated in the project twice. Each student Fellow accompanied my son and me to the hair salon, where they could see what such an everyday activity is like for a child with sensory issues. One student also attended a dentist appointment and cheered my son on as he managed to get his first ever x-rays. The other student accompanied me to an IEP meeting and was able to observe the pushback I’d been dealing with from the child study team in getting them to include my child more in the mainstream classes for the next grade. With both of them, I spent time answering their questions about our school district, my son’s experiences with Early Intervention and in public school, and my hopes for him as he gets older. I welcomed their insights, and found their gratefulness heartwarming.”
The EHDI Project is a collaboration of the New Jersey Department of Health and the SPAN Parent Advocacy Network.