Cutler Institute for Health and Social Policy

Population Health and Health Policy

Access to Mental Health Services and Family Burden of Rural Children with Significant Mental Health Problems

1/1/2008 - 1/31/2009
Jennifer Dunbar Lenardson, M.H.S.
Principal Investigator: 
David Hartley

Policies can and should be developed to better meet the mental health needs of these children and provide the support needed by their families. However, a major limitation is the lack of research on how well the needs of children with SED are currently being met in rural areas. Additionally, although there are reasons to believe the burden these problems place on families is higher in rural areas, evidence to support this assumption is limited. We also lack information about how different factors, such as child's age or family work status, affect how well the needs of children and their families are met across the rural continuum.
<b>Methods:</b> The National Survey of Children with Special Health Care Needs (NS-CSHCN) and information on community characteristics from the Area Resource File (ARF) provide rich data sources to describe these interrelationships and to examine the determinants of whether children and their families have their needs meet across the rural continuum. Using the NS-CSHCN and the ARF, we will address following research questions:<li>What is the prevalence of children with SED across the rural continuum?
<li>How does the level of need for mental health services for children with SED vary across the rural continuum?
<li>How well are the mental health needs of these children met across the rural continuum?
<li>What is the level of burden on these children?s families across the rural continuum? and
<li>What role do enabling, need, and predisposing factors play in whether or not the mental health needs of children with SED and their families are met across the rural continuum?</li>

Start Date: 
Tue, 2008-01-01
End Date: 
Sat, 2009-01-31
Legacy Muskie ID: 

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.

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