The University Centers for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities Education, Research, and Service (UCEDDs) are unique among Administration on Disabilities (AoD) grantees in that they are affiliated with universities. This connection enables the 67 UCEDDs throughout the United States and its territories to serve as liaisons between academia and the community.
Discretionary grants are awarded to interdisciplinary education, research, and public service units of universities and public or nonprofit entities associated with universities. AoD funding supports the organizational foundation of UCEDDs, which allows the grantees to pursue other sources of support to conduct various activities. UCEDDs leverage funding from a variety of sources, including federal, state, and local agencies; private foundations; donations; and fee-for-service earnings.
Addressing Issues, Finding Solutions, Advancing Research
UCEDDs are a nationwide network of independent but interlinked centers representing an expansive national resource for addressing issues, finding solutions, and advancing research related to the needs of individuals with developmental disabilities and their families.
Four core functions frame the UCEDD program:
- Interdisciplinary pre-service preparation and continuing education;
- Research, including basic or applied research, evaluation, and public policy analysis;
- Information dissemination; and
- Community services, including direct services, training, technical assistance, and model demonstrations.
UCEDDs support activities that address a range of issues, from early intervention to supported employment. Additional grants may be awarded to UCEDDs to conduct national training and other initiatives. Current national training initiatives are funded to address neonatal abstinence syndrome stemming from the opioid crisis and supporting people with intellectual and developmental disabilities with co-occurring mental or behavioral health disabilities.
- Outcome Data Tables
Community Training Programs
Number of participants in community training programs offered by the UCEDD faculty/staff broken out by areas of emphasis.
Continuing Education Programs
Number of participants in continuing education programs across different areas of emphasis offered by the UCEDD that:
- Serve to maintain professional credentials;
- Encourage professionals to expand their knowledge bases and stay up-to-date on new developments; and
- Offer certificates of completion or CEUs (or their equivalents).
Interdisciplinary Pre-Services Trainings Program /
Pre-Service Preparation Programs
Number of participants attending instructional programs offered by the UCEDD that:
- Advances professional practice, scholarship, and policy that impact the lives of people with developmental disabilities and other disabilities and their families.
- Is designed to advance in individual’s academic or professional credentials and takes place in academic setting or program; and
- May lead to the award of an initial academic degree, professional certificate, or advanced academic credential.
Number of participants in direct problem-solving services provided by UCEDD faculty/staff to assist programs, agencies, or other entities to improve their outcomes, services, management, and/or policies.
Number of participants in specialized services delivered with the intention to enhance the well-being and status of the recipient (this data does not include testing new practices that may be integrated with training, research, and/or dissemination functions).
Number of participants that test promising practices across different areas of emphasis.
Number of participants in research and evaluation activities across different areas of emphasis that impact individuals with developmental disabilities.
Products Created by UCEDDs
Number of information dissemination products created by UCEDDs.
- Examples of UCEDDs' Activities
Home and Community Based Services
The Utah State University’s Institute for Disability Research, Policy and Practice (IDRPP) implemented three initiatives to help strengthen the capacity of Direct Support Professionals (DSP) to support individuals with developmental disabilities in employment settings and their families across the state of Utah. IDRPP developed a comprehensive web page for DSPs that includes more than 73 webinars with tools and resources and trained 1,298 individuals. In addition, IDRPP developed five manuals for service providers with one focused on explaining the HCBS final settings rule and provided approximately 280 hours of technical assistance. In an effort to help increase community awareness as well as cultivate new partnerships, IDRPP presented to various local professional groups within the community and reached 31 states and nine other countries.
The Institute on Disability at the University of New Hampshire addressed a national knowledge gap of health providers in treating individuals with developmental disabilities and mental health needs. Through the initiative of the National Center for START Services, the first edition of Integrated Mental Health Treatment Guidelines for Prescribers in Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IDD-MH Prescriber Guidelines) was published in April 2021.The IDD-MH Prescriber Guidelines offers an overview of integrated health and psychopharmacological best practices in the treatment of patients with I/DD. Prior to the development of this guide, the grantee conducted extensive focus groups with individuals with lived experiences, family members, clinicians, and prescribers. The guidelines are used as training for a physician practice group comprised of 68 members from 52 organizations who meet monthly to learn together. A training was also developed for 92 medical students and 30 community providers using the guidelines as a framework. Medical schools involved include Dartmouth’s Geisel School of Medicine, University of Puerto Rico’s Medical School, and Franklin Pierce University PA program.
The Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities at the UC Davis MIND Institute in the state of California developed a Family Navigator Program to help support families after they learn of their child being diagnosed on the autism spectrum or with a developmental delay. This no-cost program to families supports them in receiving peer-to-peer support to help reduce feelings of stigma as well as empower them to learn how to best advocate for the child and navigate complex service systems. The mentors of the program represent families of members of children or adults with neurodevelopmental disabilities, self-advocates, and LEND program trainees. The MIND Institute currently has 12 family navigators with services available in English, Hindi, Spanish, and Vietnamese. Since its formation, the program served a total of 530 families and is now serving an average of 80 families at one time. Families report very high satisfaction with the program, indicating they felt supported, received the information they needed to access services, and were linked to a local Family Resource Center for additional support. Parents reported feeling confident in their ability to talk with family and friends about their child’s diagnosis and to navigate the tasks needed for service access. The program has since expanded to provide virtual Parent Education Groups to create a supportive learning environment for families on community-based treatment and resources. Over 90 families have completed satisfaction surveys in various groups and indicate high satisfaction with the topics.
The University of Kentucky Interdisciplinary Human Development Institute (HDI) developed a Driver Rehabilitation Services program in collaboration with the Occupational Therapy Services Unit within the University of Kentucky Hospital. The Driver Rehabilitation Services provides driver evaluation and training services for people with disabilities, including individuals with developmental disabilities, who want to live more independently within the community. Referrals are made through the Kentucky Office of Vocational Rehabilitation to help clients overcome barriers to employment which then help lead to improved economic security and mobility. In housing the Driver Rehabilitation Services program within HDI, the UCEDD works closely with customers to learn more about their barriers to drive a vehicle and then match their needs through integrating rehabilitation technology applications as an accommodation through its innovative research. In 2022, there were 249 individuals that received driver rehab services and 724 individuals served in total in this same program since 2019.
Equitable Early Intervention Services
The University of Miami Mailman Center for Child Development funded a five-year grant and collaborates closely with community several partners to ensure information dissemination is equitable in reaching underserved populations during COVID-19. Community-based health workers were hired and developed an app to support families find high-quality child-care in the region during a period when childcare services were shutting down due to social distancing standards. The app provided information on 280 child-care centers and 150 Head Start/Early Head Start Centers in Miami Dade County that remained open. In addition, the partnership disseminated animated videos to young children, families, and teachers to help better inform them about COVID-19. The videos were developed in multiple languages and culturally were distributed to all of the children’s hospital in Florida. To date, more than 7,000 children and families were given access to the videos in Miami-Dade County and there have been nearly 12,000 views on YouTube.
- UCEDD Resource Center
The UCEDD Resource Center (URC), implemented under contract with the Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD), provides technical assistance to the UCEDDs. AUCD is a network of interdisciplinary centers advancing policy and practice for and with individuals with developmental and other disabilities, their families, and communities.
The URC provides a wide range of training and technical assistance services that work toward achieving the long-term outcomes of:
- Positioning UCEDDs as leaders and catalysts of systems change, capacity building, and advocacy at the international, national, state/territory, and local level;
- Positioning the UCEDD Network as a national and international resource that includes specific substantive areas of expertise that may be accessed and applied in diverse settings and circumstances;
- Increasing the capacity of UCEDDs to provide leadership in; advise federal, state, and community policymakers about; and promote opportunities that lead to individuals with ID/DD exercising self-determination, becoming independent, productive, integrated, and included in all facets of community life;
- Increasing UCEDD’s quality of data collection for Program Performance reporting (PPR), demonstrating the UCEDD Network’s collective impact on the local, state, national, and international levels; and
- Increasing the percentage of people with I/DD across racial, ethnic, and cultural groups reporting greater equity in opportunities within the UCEDD Network and in the community life.
- Other UCEDD Grants
ACL awarded a number of new grants to University Centers for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities Education, Research, and Service (UCEDDs), including:
- Community-based transition planning and implementation grants to help people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) with transitions, including from school to college or work in the community and from pediatric to adult health care providers.
- National Training Initiative grants to help states more effectively address barriers experienced by people with IDD and co-occurring mental/behavioral health issues.
- Program Contacts
For searchable directory of UCEDD programs by state or territory, click here.