Cutler Institute for Health and Social Policy

Children, Youth and Families

Child Care Research and Data Capacity

Collaborating with the University of Maine in Orono, we investigated the impact of Child Care and Development Funds (CCDF) on helping low-income working parents maintain employment and achieve self-sufficiency, and improving the quality of care available and utilized by low-income working parents and at-risk families.

Completed Projects

Maine Child Care Research Partnership continued a series of evaluation and program monitoring projects in partnership with the Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) focusing on publicly-funded/subsidized child care services. Implementation of a quality rating system and performance monitoring of parent resource and referral services were two main goals of this project. In the second year we studied the differences in program quality between programs enrolled in the state DHHS Quality Rating System (QRS) and those not enrolled, the impact of federal Child Care and Development Funds on the quality of care available to and utilized by low-income working parents, and how programs assessing the developmental progress of infants and toddlers use that information for program improvement.

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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