Family & Professional Resources & Developments for Rural and Underrepresented Communities within Northern California

April 17, 2019

Northern California is uniquely positioned to serve a diverse community of historically underrepresented children and families, as well as professionals within rural communities. As members within a majority minority state, we strive to continue learning about the complex intersection of disability, diversity, and inclusion as we actively develop culturally sensitive services and programs. We wish to highlight the strides that our staff members have taken in our diversity and inclusion efforts in several programs related to family support and service navigation, research and professional training specific to diverse and rural populations.

The UC Davis MIND Institute Family Navigator program is a peer-to-peer mentoring program for families that recently received an autism diagnosis. Given the complex nature of California service systems, the goal of this program is to empower families to be effective advocates for their child and access timely services. Within one-year, Family Navigator has enrolled 85 families, and has a culturally and linguistically diverse group of coaches. The program is committed to serving rural or otherwise isolated families by providing connections to the resources available in the family's home community. We are looking forward to expanding the program in the future, by offering educational discussion groups and developing a training curriculum for the family coaches. This program is supported through our CEDD, LEND and Autism Center of Excellence (NICHD) programs. 

Apoyo de Padres Para Padres is a support group started 30 years ago by Spanish-speaking parents. It provides education, support, and advocacy as well as an opportunity to socialize. Apoyo de Padres Para Padres within the UCDavis MIND/CEDD is hosting a no-cost, conference, in Spanish, on August 31.

In collaboration with the Warmline Family Resource Center, UC Davis MIND/CEDD hosts no-cost, Sibling Workshops. This is intended for siblings who have a brother or sister with special needs to have the opportunity to share stories, give and received support and just have fun with other siblings.
The UCEDD family partners at the MIND Institute received funding from the California Department of Developmental Services to create and disseminate supportive videos in Spanish and English, entitled "Accessing Early Intervention Services: Culturally Inclusive Parent Video Modules." These videos include culturally sensitive practices relevant for Spanish speaking and African American families, and all other English speaking families in mind to support parents' advocacy efforts for their children.

Caregiver Voices: Cross-Cultural Input on Improving Access to Autism Services by Stahmer et al. (2019) was recently published in the Journal of Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities. This study, funded through the AIR-B Network and completed in collaboration with LEND trainees used qualitative methods to gather family and provider perspectives of perceived barriers and facilitators to obtaining an ASD diagnosis and accessing ASD-related services for underserved families. Themes from focus groups and interviews with families from three cultural groups (black, Hispanic/Latino, and Korean) and three primary languages (English, Korean, and Spanish) highlight specific barriers related to family, community, and systemic challenges as well as facilitators to accessing care for these populations. Recommendations are made for reducing disparities in the existing service system. The article can be accessed at:

Maternal Child Health Careers Research Initiative for Student Enhancement (MCHC-RISE-UP) is a summer undergraduate program that is funded through the CDC to Kennedy Krieger Institute (KKI). The MIND Institute currently collaborates with KKI to administer this program at our site and in an effort to achieve health equity by inspiring promising undergraduate scholars to pursue public health and research careers in fields related to disability, child health, and mental health for underrepresented communities.

The ECHO Autism is a telementoring program that connects a group of experts from our academic center with medical practitioners in rural and underserved areas treating individuals and families touched by autism. Our program provides interdisciplinary experts' support and best practices of care based on a monthly case discussion. The ECHO Autism program is supported by the Autism Center for Excellence Grant, so there is no charge for providers. While most providers are located in Northern California, there are also participants from other states and several countries. Participants can easily access it from everywhere. ECHO Autism is accepting new participants, more information is available at