Cutler Institute for Health and Social Policy


The Cutler Institute for Health and Social Policy at the Muskie School of Public Service is dedicated to developing innovative, evidence-informed, and practical approaches to pressing health and social challenges faced by individuals, families, and communities.

To serve this purpose, we engage expert staff in areas of:

Children, Youth, and Families
The Cutler Institute’s 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.

Disability and Aging
The Cutler Institute’s Disability and Aging program is a team of multi-disciplinary professionals with extensive experience working in close collaboration with states to provide technical assistance, conduct evaluations, identify best practices, and perform policy analysis work.

Justice Policy
Working across disciplines and perspectives, the Justice Policy program's applied research informs policy development and practice in civil and criminal justice systems.

Population Health and Health Policy
The Population Health and Health Policy (PHHP) program at the Cutler Institute conducts policy-driven research, evaluation, policy analysis and technical assistance focusing on the public health system and the delivery of healthcare services.

Partnering with clients throughout the nation, from state and federal agencies to the private sector, more than 200 research staff provide policymakers and practitioners with new knowledge, skills, and solutions to support healthier, stronger communities through:

  • Research and policy analysis
  • Training and technical assistance
  • Program development and implementation

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What Makes the Cutler Institute Unique?

Capacity for Change
Solutions to complex issues are rarely one-dimensional. Work in the Cutler Institute occurs within a collaborative context, with a mission to improve health and human services bridging the institute’s primary research areas: children, youth and families; disability and aging; justice policy; and population health and health policy. With such wide-ranging capacity, the institute has the unique ability to pull from expert staff and resources across disciplines to provide global, multidisciplinary approaches to complex issues.

More than 60 percent of our expert staff hold advanced degrees in areas of policy, social work, law, education, business administration, and public health, and bring to the institute decades of experience in the field. They care deeply about the issues that face our communities and are committed to finding solutions.

Real-world Solutions
The Cutler Institute is distinguished by its practical approach and prides itself on its ability to bridge the theoretical and the applied, helping to translate best practices into every day practice for government and community agencies.

Staff at the Cutler Institute are interested in more than just a deliverable; they are committed to their clients, working closely with each- no matter the scope- to examine the root of an issue and provide sustainable solutions. They perform data collection and analysis that informs decisions; implement training that empowers the workforce; evaluate programs to ensure training is achieving the desired outcome; and educate lawmakers and community leaders to impact policy and improve our communities. This scope of services, and attention to both client and community solutions, is unique to the Cutler Institute as compared to research institutes throughout the state and region.

Learning Laboratory
As part of its mission to public service, the Cutler Institute proudly plays a role in educating and preparing future leaders of government agencies and community organizations. In addition to quality classroom learning, today’s graduate students require hands-on training from experts in the field. Staff at the Cutler Institute have the unique opportunity to work closely with graduate research assistants to engage them in cutting edge research and analysis- and to prepare them with experience applying knowledge to real-world issues.

Learn more about Catherine E. Cutler

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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