Cutler Institute for Health and Social Policy

Population Health and Health Policy

Use of Mental Health Services by Rural Children

Abstract: 

This study examines rural and urban differences in the use of children's mental health services and the role that family income, health insurance, and mental health status play in explaining these differences. The analysis is based on three years of pooled data from the National Survey of America's Families (NSAF). Three research questions are examined: (1) What is the mental health need of children, age 6 to 17? (2) What percentage of children, with an identified mental health need, used a mental health service in the past year? What is the average number of mental health visits they received in the past year? (3) What role does family income and type of insurance have on the use of mental health services by children? Analyses show that rural and urban children both face substantial barriers to use of mental health services. Medicaid and SCHIP help all children, but particularly rural children who receive mental health care. This suggests that these public health insurance programs are important policy vehicles for enhancing the access of rural children to mental health care.

Publication Type: 
Working Paper
Publish Date: 
July 1, 2008
URL: 
http://muskie.usm.maine.edu/Publications/rural/WP39/Rural-Children-Mental-Health-Services.pdf

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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