Office of Public Affairs

6/17/2020 — New report from USM’s Cutler Institute highlights challenges for system-involved older youth in Androscoggin County

For Immediate Release: 6/17/20

 

Press contacts:Daniel Hartill, USM Communications and Media Relations Specialistdaniel.hartill@maine.edu, (cell) 207-333-9910

 

Juvenile Justice contact:Mara Sanchez, Policy Associate, USM’s Cutler Schoolmara.sanchez@maine.edu, (cell) 207-522-0593

 

New report from USM’s Cutler Institute highlights challenges for system-involved older youth in Androscoggin County

 

Androscoggin County could be helped dramatically with investment in system-involved youth, young people facing a variety of challenges —  including homelessness, foster care, justice and mental health issues — according to a new study from the University of Southern Maine’s Cutler Institute. The 42-page report, “Assessing Community Assets and Opportunities – A Case Study of Asset Mapping in Androscoggin County,” calls on state, agency and community leaders to work together to leverage community assets and strengthen the continuum of care in the county. The report, the third in the Place Matters series, was authored by Mara Sanchez, Erica King, and Starsha Schiller of the Justice Policy Program within USM’s Cutler Institute.

 

A wide variety of agencies and nonprofit organizations already help young people within the county. However, analysis found that additional investment could pay community dividends.

 

When compared to the state, Androscoggin County currently has the lowest rates for high school graduation (74%), the highest rates of suspensions (14%), and the highest violent crime rates (19.1 crimes per 1000 persons) across all Maine counties. Furthermore, youth in Androscoggin County are referred to juvenile justice, child welfare and behavioral health systems at a higher rate than most other counties in Maine. Youth in Androscoggin County are also more likely to be homeless than youth living in other parts of Maine.

 

“Androscoggin County is facing nearly all the issues and barriers being faced across the state,” Sanchez said. “There are many programs, services, and organizations which are addressing these issues and barriers, who need more support and resources to take their programmatic work to scale to serve all youth in the county who need it. Working together across systems and local communities, people across Androscoggin County can build a future with better outcomes for young people and communities.”

 

In their work to map assets, the report’s authors found more than 72 organizations contributing positively to the community. The most frequently named assets were Tree Street Youth, New Beginnings, restorative justice programs like Restorative Justice Institute of Maine, the Take2 Youthbuild program at Goodwill of Northern New England, St. Mary’s Hospital, and Tri-County Mental Health Services. Assets were mapped by researchers online with hopes of creating similar maps for other counties.

 

“The people we spoke to in Androscoggin County shared a lot of exciting work and collaboration that is happening there,” King said. “They also identified critical local opportunities and investments needed to strengthen youth and community outcomes in Androscoggin County. Strong collaboration and place-based, data-informed investments are key to implementing and sustaining a targeted continuum of care at the community level.”

 

More information about the Place Matters project is available here.

 

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University of Southern MaineSituated in Maine’s economic and cultural center, the University of Southern Maine (USM) is a public university with 8,000 undergraduate and graduate students taking courses online and at campuses in Portland, Gorham and Lewiston-Auburn. Known for its academic excellence, student focus and engagement with the community, USM provides students with hands-on experience that complements classroom learning and leads to employment opportunities in one of the nation’s most desirable places to live.