The UTHSC Center on Developmental Disabilities has received a five-year, $3.03 million grant from the U.S. Administration for Community Living to continue serving as a University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDD).
Led by Executive Director Bruce Keisling, PhD, the Center on Developmental Disabilities (CDD) is one of 67 UCEDDs across the United States. The federal government established these programs to develop and implement interdisciplinary training, continuing education, clinical and community services, and research in developmental disabilities. A Community Advisory Council, comprised of people with disabilities, family members, and other community stakeholders, helps shape and evaluate the program’s goals, activities, and impact.
Dr. Keisling leads a wide array of faculty and staff working to improve health outcomes and reduce health disparities for individuals with disabilities and their families in Memphis and the Mid-South. Across several clinical settings, the center involves 10 disciplines, including speech and language pathology, social work, psychology, nursing, physical therapy, audiology, special education, occupational therapy, developmental pediatrics, and dietetics.
Since opening in the 1960s, the CDD has worked toward its mission to be available as a resource to the community and families on all things related to developmental disabilities. Over the decades, the center has been known as the Child Development Center and the Boling Center for Developmental Disabilities, and it is now located in the 920 Madison Building in the heart of UTHSC’s Memphis campus.
In addition to diagnostic and therapeutic work, the CDD focuses on training, research, and collaboration with community stakeholders. This includes the Center of Excellence for Children in State Custody, which provides trainings, consultation, and evaluations for children in foster care with traumatic abuse and maltreatment histories. The CDD also administratively oversees the Shelby County Relative Caregiver Program, which assists families where relatives (grandparents and others) care for children because their parents are unable.
The $3.03 million grant will support several model projects, including the Relative Caregiver Program, the Scottish-Rite Communication Disorders Clinic, and a new initiative supporting degree-seeking college students with autism from enrollment to graduation to integrated and sustained employment.
Dr. Keisling is a Fellow of the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities and holds the Herbert A. Shainberg Professorship in Developmental Pediatrics. He is a professor in the Department of Pediatrics and the Department of Medical Education in the UTHSC College of Medicine.