Cutler Institute for Health and Social Policy

Children, Youth and Families

Helen Ward

Senior Policy Associate
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238 Wishcamper Center

Contact Information

Phone: (207) 780-5831

Helen Ward, J.D., is a Senior Policy Associate at the Cutler Institute for Health and Social Policy at the Edmund S. Muskie School of Public Service, University of Southern Maine. Ms. Ward’s work in child and family policy has focused primarily on special populations navigating multiple systems, including families living in poverty, parents of children with special needs, families involved in the child welfare system and immigrant and refugee families. She has used mixed methods to understand these complex cross-systems issues and has applied the principles of participatory research to her work.  She is currently Project Director for the Colorado Child Welfare Training Project  for which she has developed cross-training curricula focusing on coordination between child welfare and other systems serving families and children including education, early intervention/preschool special education, the early care and education system, mental health, and immigration. She has also conducted several federally-funded research studies involving special populations including an examination of the child care and work challenges of parents of children with special needs, a study of the degree of coordination between child welfare and early care and education and early intervention in addressing the developmental needs of young children and research identifying the factors that influence child care decision-making of immigrant and refugee families and the implications for school readiness. She also was a consultant to an initiative at the Ford Foundation to address the needs of children of the working poor. This work involved conducting a series of parent focus groups in Virginia and writing a manual for Ford grantees and others working at the state level on how to do focus groups of low income parents.  Before joining the Muskie School, Ms. Ward worked as a consultant conducting research, policy analysis and evaluation work on children’s issues. Previously, she served as Deputy Director of the Connecticut Association for Human Services (CAHS) where she worked in a variety of issue areas affecting child and family well-being, leading coalitions, developing legislative proposals, conducting policy analysis and authoring a number of publications, including a report on low birth weight and infant mortality and a comprehensive study of Connecticut’s child care system. She earned her Bachelor’s degree from Oberlin College and her law degree from the Antioch School of Law.

Recent Publications:

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State and Wabanaki Tribes Sign Truth and Reconciliation Mandate

Wabanaki Chiefs and Governor LePage signing mandate

On June 29, 2012, five Wabanaki Chiefs and Governor Paul LePage signed a Mandate document commencing the Maine Wabanaki-State Child Welfare Truth and Reconciliation Commission to examine Maine child welfare practices affecting Wabanaki people.

The ceremony represents a historic agreement between Wabanaki Tribal Governments and the State of Maine to uncover and acknowledge the truth, create opportunities to heal and learn from the truth, and collaborate to operate the best child welfare system possible for Wabanaki children, a goal shared by all the signatories to the Mandate.


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