Cutler Institute for Health and Social Policy

Maine Rural Health Research Center, Population Health and Health Policy

Jennifer Dunbar Lenardson, M.H.S.

Research Associate I


432B Wishcamper Center

Contact Information

Phone: (207) 228-8399

Jennifer Lenardson is a research associate at the Muskie School of Public Service, conducting qualitative and quantitative research across a range of rural health policy topics. Jennifer’s research interests focus on access to care for people who face barriers because of where they live, their health status, the type of services they need, and other social and demographic characteristics. As a data analyst, she is currently examining the impact of the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion on rural and urban residents, as well as federal and state policies on rural residential care facilities. Recently completed projects include the analysis of national data to examine rural and urban differences in prevalence of high deductible health plans and patterns in children’s access to mental health care. Prior to joining the USM Muskie School, she was a policy analyst for the Project HOPE Center for Health Affairs.


  • Master of Health Science in Health Policy, Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University


Date Titlesort ascending Type
2008 Use of Mental Health Services by Rural Children Working Paper
2008 Understanding Changes to Physician Practice Arrangements in Maine and New Hampshire Report
2008 The Community Benefit and Impact of Critical Access Hospitals: The Results of the 2007 CAH Survey [Policy Brief] Research and Policy Brief
2008 The Community Benefit and Impact of Critical Access Hospitals: The Results of the 2007 CAH Survey [Briefing Paper] Report
2014 Substance Use and Abuse in Rural Areas Book Chapter
2012 Substance abuse and use in rural America Book Chapter
2007 State Initiatives Funded by the Medicare Rural Hospital Flexibility Grant Program Research and Policy Brief
2014 Rural Residents More Likely to be Enrolled in High Deductible Health Plans Research and Policy Brief
2016 Rural Opioid Abuse: Prevalence and User Characteristics Research and Policy Brief
2015 Rural Implications of Medicaid Expansion under the ACA Research and Policy Brief
2013 Rural Children Experience Different Rates of Mental Health Diagnosis and Treatment Research and Policy Brief
2009 Rural Children Don't Receive the Mental Health Care They Need Research and Policy Brief
2015 Rural and Remote Food Environments and Obesity Journal Article
2006 Quality and Performance Improvement Grant Activities under the Flex Program Report
2014 Profile of Rural Residential Care Facilities: A Chartbook Report
2009 Profile of Rural Health Insurance Coverage: A Chartbook Book/Monograph
2013 Patterns of Care for Rural and Urban Children with Mental Health Problems Research and Policy Brief
2010 Mental Health Problems Have Considerable Impact on Rural Children and Their Families Research and Policy Brief
2007 Maine's Rural Health Challenges Report
2014 Implications of Rurality and Psychiatric Status for Diabetic Preventive Care Use among Adults with Diabetes Research and Policy Brief
2011 How Does The Rural Food Environment Affect Rural Childhood Obesity? Journal Article
2014 High Deductible Health Insurance Plans in Rural Areas Report
2009 Health Insurance Profile Indicates Need to Expand Coverage in Rural Areas Research and Policy Brief
2012 Health Care Access and Use Among the Rural Uninsured Journal Article
2009 Few and Far Away: Detoxification Services in Rural Areas Research and Policy Brief
2008 Distribution of Substance Abuse Treatment Facilities Across the Rural-Urban Continuum [Research & Policy Brief] Research and Policy Brief
2007 Distribution of Substance Abuse Treatment Facilities Across the Rural-Urban Continuum Report
2008 Developing Indicators to Document the Community Impact of Critical Access Hospitals Research and Policy Brief
2015 Built Environments and Active Living in Rural and Remote Areas: A Review of the Literature Journal Article
2009 Availability, Characteristics, and Role of Detoxification Services in Rural Areas Research and Policy Brief
2012 Adolescent Alcohol Use: Do Risk and Protective Factors Explain Rural-Urban Differences? Working Paper
2010 Access to Mental Health Services and Family Impact of Rural Children With Mental Health Problems Working Paper

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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