Cutler Institute for Health and Social Policy

Children, Youth and Families

Patricia Toole

Training Coordinator
Patricia Toole


12 E. Chestnut Street, Augusta

Contact Information

Phone: (207) 626-5239

Pat has worked on behalf of Maine citizens for more than two decades. As an income maintenance specialist, she administered the Food Supplement, MaineCare, and TANF programs in the Bangor regional office for the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). Based on her regional experience as a trusted mentor for new specialists, she eagerly began teaching as a staff trainer for the Standard Eligibility Policy Training (SEPT) program at its inception in 2000, modifying curriculum content and evolving policy applications. As coordinator, she continues to facilitate classroom teaching as well as mentor staff based on her consistent insightful understanding of policy for all three programs, as well as her experience of organizational history. Pat is excited that technology has been instrumental to making process change implementation more efficient. Her experience provides a sound basis for teaching ACES functionality for all three programs.

Her knowledge of adult learning theory, particularly cognitive apprenticeship and situated cognition, supports the value of formal mentoring to optimize transfer of learning in the workplace. Developing online modules for self-directed study requires an appreciation of motivation and engagement of the adult learner. Not only is solid training practice a key to individual job satisfaction and competence, but it is instrumental to departmental retention goals and sound fiscal stewardship. Pat’s training experience with DHHS assistance programs has provided an opportunity to exercise her commitment to social justice for Maine’s low income residents.

Her interests include educational psychology, adult learning theory, cognitive decline in aging women, and particular skill development and mentoring for women in nontraditional occupations.

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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