Cutler Institute for Health and Social Policy

Our nationally recognized institutes and innovative research help improve child welfare in Maine and throughout the nation
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.
kids at playground
We conduct training, technical assistance, and applied research to inform early care and education practices at the national, state, and local levels.
Teacher with young children
We help leaders improve their organizations through: Public Sector Workforce Development, Systems Design and Implementation, Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI), and Strategic Planning.
child with blocks
Our research, promising practices, policy analysis and teaching provide a framework to engage with local, state and national organizations to help communities best serve children, youth and families.
Camp Ketcha Youth Group
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Children, Youth and Families

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

 

News & Events

Picture: Penthea Burns, YLAT Director and Beth Yvonne, Director of Maine Youth Action Network
Maine Youth Action Network's (MYAN) Organization ImpACT Awards The Youth & Community Engagement Programs at USM's Muskie School of Public Service, Cutler Institute for Health and Social Policy was chosen as the recipient of the Maine Youth Action Network's (MYAN) Organization ImpACT Award. Pentha Burns accepted the award at the MYAN annual conference in Augusta on October 28th. Through the ImpACT Awards, MYAN recognizes and celebrates youth leadership and the support systems that empower youth. These awards showcase youth and adults who are making a positive impact on each other, their communities, and their worlds. Picture: Penthea Burns, YLAT Director and Beth Yvonne, Director of Maine Youth Action Network
Aspen youth 2014
We are excited to announce that in July, the Opportunity Youth Incentive Fund (OYIF) awarded a second grant to the Muskie School of Public Service and its partners who make up The Southern Maine Youth Transition Network (SMYTN). The Opportunity Youth Incentive Fund is managed by the Aspen Institute’s Forum for Community Solutions and is dedicated to connecting “Opportunity Youth” to education and employment.
Kris Sahonchik
Kris Sahonchik, Director of the Cutler Institute for Health and Social Policy, recently returned from several weeks in Russia on the 2014 US-Russia Social Expertise Exchange (SEE) program to enhance child protection, foster care, and adoption.
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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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