Cutler Institute for Health and Social Policy

About Children, Youth, and Families (CYF)

The Cutler Institute Children, Youth, and Families Program advances the well-being of children and families by improving the public and private systems that serve them. We work to include the voices of children, youth and families, and to engage community. Our approach empowers and strengthens the clients we serve. We have earned a national reputation for excellence in research, policy development, program evaluation, training, and technical assistance.

CYF People

Areas of Focus


Child Welfare Child Welfare

We engage with state, local and tribal child welfare agencies and courts to help them develop and implement sustainable systemic reforms aimed at improving outcomes for children, youth and families. Contact Peter Watson for more information.


Early Childhood Care and Education Early Childhood Care and Education

We conduct training, technical assistance, and applied research to inform early care and education practices at the national, state and local levels for state government, local schools and child care agencies. Contact Sonja Howard for more information.


Family Support and EmpowermentFamily Support and Independence

The Cutler Institute provides training and technical assistance to Maine human services staff who help families find the public services they need to get back on their feet. We bring classroom and online solutions to the policy and practice-related workforce development needs of public agency staff at all levels of the organization. Contact Sue Ebersten for more information.


Organizational Improvement

Organizational Improvement

We help agencies and Tribes develop their workforce, plan and implement projects that increase system capacity, build continuous quality improvement systems (CQI), and improve long-term outcomes through strategic planning. Contact Kris Sahonchik for more information.


Youth and Community EngagementYouth and Community Engagement

Youth and Community Engagement program staff work with state, local, and tribal agencies, as well as youth and key community stakeholders, to enhance the capacity of systems and communities to bring about improved outcomes for Maine’s young people. Contact Marty Zanghi for more information.


CYF Publications

 

Cutler Institute awarded $600,000 to help youth raised in foster system

Marty Zanghi

USM's Cutler Institute for Health and Social Policy has been awarded a $600,000 grant to help young people raised in Maine's foster system to prepare for college and the workforce.

The money comes from the Annie E. Casey Foundation as part of a $5.4 million national effort aimed at youth who are homeless or in either the foster care or juvenile justice systems.

"Many of these young people have suffered abuse or trauma and were raised in poverty and neglect," said Marty Zanghi, the Cutler Center's youth development director.

The money -- including an expected $400,000 more in matching funds -- will pay for contracted work with agencies in the target areas, starting with the greater Portland area and Penobscot, Kennebec and Somerset counties.

Nationally and in Maine, only about 3 percent of people who grow up in the foster care system achieve a college degree, he said.

"It's dramatically lower than the rate for the general population," Zanghi said. "It's a horrible outcome."

It doesn't have to be that way, though.

"There are young people that overcome these circumstances," he said. "I know people who have master's degrees and Ph.Ds."

The Casey Foundation's national effort is being called the "Learn and Earn to Achieve Potential" (LEAP) initiative.

The initiative is working on partnerships in Maine and nine other areas: Alaska, Arizona, California, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska and New York. In each case, people will adapt two evidence-based models to meet the needs of these youth, including support to address the trauma they may have experienced in their lives.

In Maine, the work will include a pair of successful programs, Jobs for Maine Graduates (JMG) and Jobs for the Future. Results will be carefully tracked, Zanghi said.

After the first year, the program is expected to grow.

"Eventually, the additional help will be available to all children, 14 and over, in the foster care system in the state of Maine," Zanghi said.

New Chartbook on the Use of Maine's Long Term Services and Supports (LTSS)

Long Term Services and Supports Cover page image

Long term services and supports (LTSS) are a vital lifeline for the thousands of Maine adults who need them, and they account for a significant portion of the state's Medicaid (MaineCare) budget.This Chartbook prepared by the research staff at the USM Muskie School, provides information on all Maine adults who use LTSS: older adults; adults with physical disabilities; adults with intellectual disabilities/autism spectrum disorder or other related conditions; and adults with acquired brain injury.

The information provided in this Chartbook about the demographic trends that impact Maine's service system as well as data on the typical MaineCare service utilization and expenditures of different LTSS populations will inform the discussion among policymakers, providers, consumers, and advocates as they work together to ensure that Maine’s system of LTSS meets the needs of all its citizens.

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