Pallone announces Boggs Center to get $2.2 million grant

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Congressman Frank Pallone Jr. (D-Middlesex, Monmouth) announced that The Boggs Center on Developmental Disabilities at Rutgers University is the recipient of a Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disorders (LEND) training program grant totaling $2.2 million over five years.

The grant will support the Center’s work on developmental disabilities, including autism, and its outreach to underserved minority communities.

A recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study found that one in 41 children is diagnosed with autism in New Jersey, a 12 percent increase in two years. Although New Jersey has the highest rate of autism in the nation, the state is one of 13 without a LEND program. The report also found gaps between diagnosis and necessary services, which the Boggs Center will address by increasing the capacity of New Jersey’s provider community to perform critical early interventions.

“The work being done at the Boggs Center is extraordinary and has the potential to help families in New Jersey and throughout the country,” said Pallone. “That’s why it is so important that Boggs has the tools it needs to continue its good work. Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle must fund both the medical research that allows us to better understand autism and the services that allow those diagnosed to live healthy and fulfilling lives.”

“The award of a LEND [grant] will enable The Boggs Center, part of Rutgers’ Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, to positively impact the lives of New Jersey’s children, young adults and families living with autism,” said Deborah M. Spitalnik, Ph.D., executive director of The Boggs Center on Developmental Disabilities.

“With Children’s Specialized Hospital as a primary clinical training partner and collaborations forged across disciplines at Rutgers, LEND will provide interdisciplinary clinical and leadership education to develop a cadre of future professionals to address the complex needs of New Jersey’s children with autism spectrum disorder and their families from birth through the transition to adulthood,” she said.

“The Boggs Center has a long and rich history of leadership in the developmental disabilities community,” said Dr. Suzanne Buchanan, executive director of Autism New Jersey. “Through this grant, they will expand their work to address critical needs in our community by increasing access to well-trained medical and behavioral health professionals and expanding their reach to underserved communities. We look forward to partnering with the entire LEND team here in New Jersey to maximize the impact that these public funds can have for individuals with autism.”

Since its founding in 1983, The Boggs Center has played a vital role in both the Rutgers and New Brunswick communities, which is consistent with the legacy of the Center’s namesake, Elizabeth M. Boggs. The Center not only develops a greater clinical understanding of developmental disabilities, it endeavors to translate that understanding back to the community, with the goal of enabling the participation of the developmentally disabled in society.