Cutler Institute for Health and Social Policy

Early Childhood Care and Education

teacher with young children

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, including Head Start and public pre-K programs. The following projects illustrate our work in this area.

Current Projects


Maine After School Network Logo

Maine AfterSchool Network

The Maine AfterSchool Network (MASN) serves as a hub for collaborative efforts that will enable every child to have access to quality, inclusive, affordable afterschool programming which meets the needs of the child, the family, and the community.

 


Maine Roads to Quality LogoMaine Roads to Quality

Maine Roads to Quality is the Early Care and Education Career Development Network for Maine. Established in 1999, its purpose is to promote and support professionalism in the early care and education field.

Maine Roads to Quality works with various partners across the state, including Maine’s Higher Education System, to promote professional development opportunities throughout the state.


Educare Logo

UMO Educare Maine Evaluation Project

The Educare Evaluation is a partnership with University of Maine with Dr. Alan Cobo- Lewis and University of Southern Maine.  The evaluation work is done with Educare Central Maine, which is one of 21 Educare schools in the country, each with its own local evaluation partner.  The purpose of the study is to support the mission of Educare, which is a research-based program that prepares young at-risk children for school and which serves as a platform for quality early learning programming. The evaluation work consists of well known assessments with children, classroom observations, and staff and parent surveys.


Quality for ME Revision Project

Quality for ME is a four-step rating scale developed to rate child care programs based on quality standards. It is administered through Maine DHHS.

In July of 2014, the University of Maine, in partnership with the USM was contracted through DHHS to conduct a year-long study of the Quality of ME system. The goal of the study is to make recommendations to the Office of Child and Family Services for revisions to this system.


 

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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