Cutler Institute for Health and Social Policy

The Center informs healthcare policymaking and access to and delivery of rural health services
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We develop, manage, and evaluate initiatives that test solutions to address access to and quality and cost of healthcare
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Our rural health research focuses on barriers to healthcare access for rural residents, behavioral health, and challenges faced by rural healthcare providers
Our research portfolio addresses challenges faced by rural providers (rural health clinics & critical access hospitals) in delivering and sustaining services
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Maine Rural Health Research Center

News & Events

photo: United Nations Office on Durgs and Crime (UNODC)
John Gale, Research Associate at the Maine Rural Health Research Center, was invited to present at a three-day meeting of the Prevention, Treatment and Rehabilitation Section of the United Nation's Office on Drugs and Crime, held in Vienna, Austria the first week of June.The focus of the meeting is the development of a model program for drug prevention and treatment in rural areas. Gale's current research on rural opioids provided the context for his presentation, "The Overall Situation of Substance Use Disorder (SUD) Prevention and Treatment in Rural Settings."
Erika Ziller, Deputy Director of the Maine Rural Health Research Center, and John Gale, Research Associate, each presented findings from their current research portfolio and both contributed to a panel discussion on the rural opioid crisis. For more information, visit the National Rural Health Association webpage at: http://www.ruralhealthweb.org/go/left/programs-and-events/nrha-conferences/nrha-annual-conference
Jean Talbot, Research Associate with the Maine Rural Health Research Center, and colleagues have published their study of the role of rural residence and single motherhood as risk factors for smoking. Their findings indicate that rural mothers are significantly more likely than their urban counterparts to be smokers, smoke frequently, and smoke heavily, even after adjusting for factors known to increase smoking risk. Talbot suggests that policymakers should consider methods for extending insurance coverage for smoking cessation interventions through the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid. Additionally, anti-smoking initiatives at the local, state, and national levels could play an important role in decreasing rural-urban disparities in smoking-related morbidity and mortality.
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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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