Numerous studies indicate that incarcerated populations are at high risk of having mental health or substance abuse problems. In 2005, more than half of all jail and prison inmates in the U.S. had a mental health problem, and research suggests that inmates of county jails have the highest rates of mental health symptoms or recent history of mental health issues. In addition, local jails often hold mentally ill persons pending their movement to appropriate mental health facilities. This project will investigate how rural jails manage the mental health and substance abuse problems of their inmates, including providing direct services, contracting for services, and planning for post-discharge services. Through analysis of the National Survey of Jails and semi-structured interviews with state-level and county-level/local officials, barriers to providing such services will be assessed and promising practices will be documented. Findings will be disseminated to state and local corrections officials, as well as rural mental health stakeholders.
Cutler Institute for Health and Social Policy
Role of Local Jails in the Rural Mental Health System
Cutler Institute awarded $600,000 to help youth raised in foster system
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.