Cutler Institute for Health and Social Policy

Population Health and Health Policy

Population Health and Health Policy Projects

Research projects in the Population Health and Health Policy program area focus on:

Health Services Access, Quality, & Financing

Researchers and staff maintain a robust portfolio of applied research, demonstration, and technical assistance projects that inform the changing environment of health services. Our team develops, manages, and evaluates federal, state, local and foundation initiatives. These initiatives test innovative and practical solutions that serve to address access to healthcare, improve the quality and safety of healthcare across multiple settings, and inform the complex dynamics of health services cost-efficiency and value.  

Projects include:

Public Health Systems & Practice

Our team of practitioners, researchers, and evaluators focus this body of work on: 1) evaluation of public health initiatives, 2) assessment of performance and quality, 3) improvement of programs and service delivery, 4) development of tools and measures, and 5) preparation for accreditation. Projects include:

Maine Public Health Institute (MePHI)

MePHI promotes and applies the shared values of public health and healthcare through our organizational home within the Muskie School of Public Service and its Graduate Program in Public Health. By bridging the cultures and disciplines of public health and health care, MePHI engages individuals, communities, providers and researchers in the development and management of a more effective and efficient public health infrastructure that addresses health across numerous systems. MePHI provides the organizational capacity and “backbone” support to mobilize collective expertise, leadership and resources within existing organizations, networks and communities to identify and undertake coordinated strategic initiatives to improve public health and health systems.

Rural Health

The Maine Rural Health Research Center's research portfolio addresses critical, policy-relevant issues in health care access and financing, rural hospitals, primary care and behavioral health. The Flex Monitoring Team, consisting of the rural health research centers at the Universities of North Carolina, Minnesota, and Southern Maine, develops relevant quality, financial, and community benefit/impact performance measures and reporting systems for Critical Access Hospitals, State Offices of Rural Health. and their stakeholders.

Additionally, research conducted within other areas in the Cutler Institute (Disability & Aging and Children, Youth & Families) include elements of population health, so we encourage you to visit those program areas for more detailed information about their projects.

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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