Cutler Institute for Health and Social Policy

Children, Youth and Families

Claire Walker, B.S.

Project Assistant I
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Office

12 E. Chestnut Street, Augusta

Contact Information

Phone: (207) 626-5296

With over 20 years of administrative experience and a Bachelor’s degree in public administration, Claire provides project support for a team of Muskie staff who deliver an array of training for staff of the Maine DHHS Office for Family Independence. She has been the lead support for the Standard Eligibility Policy Training (SEPT) program, which has included centralized on-site training and additional weeks of companion field practice activities related to federal and state policies in MaineCare, Food Supplement Program, and Temporary Assistance to Needy Families regulations. Claire has worked at the Muskie School since the first SEPT training class in 2000. Her technical expertise includes Microsoft Office Suite 2010, SurveyMonkey, and MaineStreet MarketPlace financials. She is experienced in monitoring expenditures, reconciling monthly financial reports, and recording and summarizing training data used in semi-annual and yearly reports to DHHS.

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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