WI MCH LEND Training Program Now Includes Milwaukee-Link

December 23, 2014

Milwaukee Link
Milwaukee Link

The "Milwaukee-Link" addition to the Madison-based Wisconsin LEND program provides opportunities for former MCHB-funded Pipeline undergraduate trainees and others who are in graduate school at UW-Milwaukee (UWM), to participate in the WI LEND program and receive leadership training to work with children with autism and other developmental disabilities, their families, and systems of care. A priority is placed on recruiting LEND trainees from under-represented groups who plan to live and practice in the city of Milwaukee. With a focus on serving children with autism in Milwaukee, this extension of the WI LEND program through a collaboration with UWM campus faculty and students is designed to 1) increase the number of professionals from under-represented groups trained to provide diagnostic and other services to children with autism and their families, and 2) increase access to diagnostic services for children in parts of the city of Milwaukee that are underserved and economically disadvantaged.

LEND faculty at UWM are Kris Barnekow, Occupational Therapy (LEND Milwaukee-Link Coordinator); Bonita Klein-Tasman, Psychologist (Coordinator for Clinical Training, Milwaukee); John Heilmann, Speech/Language Pathologist; and Kathy Sawin, Nursing. Up to five graduate students from the disciplines of psychology, occupational therapy, speech/language pathology, nursing, and this year a family trainee, form the Milwaukee-Link "trainee team" that works together in a training clinic, and participates as a Life Course Story group, to learn how to provide diagnostic, family support and followup services. The LEND curriculum is the same for Madison and Milwaukee-based trainees, with those at UWM completing the didactic curriculum and policy group work by distance participation; traveling to Madison for intensive Leadership Development workshops, orientation and end-of-year activities; and completing other individual and group training activities in Milwaukee as determined in their Individualized Leadership Training Plans.

The Milwaukee-Link trainees engage in community service efforts aimed at positively impacting supports to families of children at risk for or diagnosed with autism. Milwaukee, like many urban areas, experiences significant health disparities in the early identification of children with autism and subsequent interventions. An autism diagnostic clinic staffed by the LEND interdisciplinary team at UWM provides training to LEND trainees and diagnostic evaluations for children in the central Milwaukee area. In the spring and summer of 2014, Milwaukee-Link LEND trainees were an integral part of planning and participating in the Urban Autism Summit held in June 2014, an event that hosted parents, consumers and professionals with the goal of improving autism services for individuals on the spectrum and their families in Milwaukee. LEND Milwaukee-Link trainees remain active in post-summit workgroups designed to address early identification of autism and family/community supports. Plans are underway for another Summit event.

In the pilot year for the Milwaukee Link program (2013-2014), 4 trainees were graduated from WI LEND; an ADOS training workshop was held in Milwaukee attended by LEND trainees and staff from both Madison and Milwaukee; trainees in Milwaukee conducted developmental screening in a preschool associated with UWM; and four families received services through the training clinic. The annual meeting of the Great Lakes LEND Collaborative, with a focus on "Regional Disparities in the Identification of Autism: Looking at Race, Ethnicity, Gender and Age" was held in Milwaukee Sept 26, 2013 and included Madison and Milwaukee WI LEND trainees, faculty and trainees from LEND programs in IL, MN and IN. In the current training year there are five first year trainees and one second-year trainee participating in WI LEND Milwaukee-Link, pictured here. Two of the Milwaukee-Link trainees were former MCH Pipeline trainees from UWM.

For more information about the WI LEND Milwaukee-Link program, please contact Anne Harris, WI LEND Director (harris@waisman.wisc.edu) or Kris Barnekow, LEND Milwaukee-Link Coordinator (krisb@uwm.edu).