CA-LEND Trainees' Leadership Projects Enhance UCEDD Grant to Improve Developmental and Autism Screening and Linkage in Underserved Communities

April 1, 2015

The CA-LEND program at Children's Hospital Los Angeles provided leadership opportunities for trainees through a grant funded by First 5 LA (First Connections), designed to increase access to developmental and autism screening and linkage for young children in underserved communities. The First Connections project, featured at the 2014 CAAI Virtual Poster Symposium (, is a three-year grant aimed at developing models for developmental screening and linkage at large medical centers, family service agencies, and family resource centers.

Under the mentorship of Marian Williams, PhD, CA-LEND Autism Training Coordinator, and Irina Zamora, PsyD, First Connections Project Director, two CA-LEND trainees participated in the First Connections project as part of their leadership education. Chris Moore, MD, a pediatrician participating in the CA-LEND interdisciplinary training program to grow his leadership role in developmental disabilities, is conducting a research study examining provider experiences and attitudes regarding developmental screening. He is in the process of surveying providers from three Federally Qualified Health Centers to learn about factors that influence their provision of developmental screening services, use of Learn the Signs Act Early materials, and strategies for approaching parents to discuss screening findings. He plans to submit his findings to a peer-reviewed journal for publication, and will utilize lessons learned in his pediatric practice in Colorado following his LEND training.

Mireya Romero is a CA-LEND family support trainee who works as a parent partner at a local mental health agency and is a parent peer mentor and a support group leader for the Down Syndrome Association of Los Angeles. She is participating in CA-LEND to gain additional leadership skills to support her work with families of children with developmental disabilities. For her leadership project, Mireya has developed continuing education training for daycare providers, preschool teachers, and early education managers at Westside Children's Center, a family service agency participating in the First Connections grant. Mireya's training will help participants learn to support parents in the IEP process when their screening process identifies a child who may need special education services. With a focus on developing advocacy skills for parents, Mireya will draw on her own experience as a parent navigating the IEP process and her training in the CA-LEND Parent IEP Coaching clinic.