Cutler Institute for Health and Social Policy

Justice Policy

Susan Walker

Reseach Analyst I/Project Coordinator

Office

233F Wishcamper Center

Contact Information

Phone: (207) 780-5870

Susan Walker is a Research Analyst and Project Coordinator at the Catherine E. Cutler Institute for Child and Family Policy at the Edmund S. Muskie School of Public Service, University of Southern Maine. She is currently working on the VAWA Measuring Effectiveness Initiative project funded by the Office on Violence Against Women. She has been working at Muskie since July 2002. While working on the VAWA project she developed a system using Access databases to automate the cleaning of the data. She received her Masters in Public Policy and Management in May of 2004. Certificate in Research and Evaluation Methods in January of 2004, and BS in Leadership and Organizational Studies in May 2002. Before that she managed an organic vegetable farm CSA in Standish while she helped raise six children. She enjoys being outdoors and taking photos of nature and unusual things.

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.

2015 Disproportionate Contact: Youth of Color in Maine's Juvenile Justice System Report

A new report released by the Muskie School of Public Service reveals a racial bias towards minority youths in Maine's juvenile justice system.

"Disproportionate Contact: Youth of Color in Maine's Juvenile Justice System" examines racial disparities in the system and provides recommendations on how to move toward racial equity. Robyn Dumont, Erica King and George Shaler of the Muskie School's Justice Policy Program authored the mixed-method report.

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2015 Maine Crime Victimization Survey Report

Findings for the 2015 Maine Crime Victimization Report, released on December 1, 2015, were discussed at a press release forum at the Muskie School of Public Service. This report highlights findings from telephone interviews conducted with 843 randomly selected Mainers on whether they had been a victim of criminal or unwanted behavior (e.g. violent crime, property crime, threats of violence, identity crime, and stalking) in the past 12 months. 

After the presentation a distinguished panel responded to the findings and offered comments.

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