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The Vermont Reach Up Program and Your Family

The Vermont Reach Up Program and Your Family

The Vermont Reach Up Program was designed to help parents get the help they need while also earning valuable job skills.  As a part of the Reach Up Program, participants have the opportunity to work with a case manager, who’ll help create a plan to achieve their financial and career-oriented goals. 

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In this article, we’ll be diving into the Reach Up Program, discussing what it is, as well as how you can join in the benefits.  Read on to learn more about what this Vermont-based program has to offer its citizens!

What Is The Reach Up Program?

The Vermont Reach Up Program is a branch of the State of Vermont’s Department for Children and Families.  It works to help low-income parents provide for their children, both now and in the future.

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First and foremost, the mission of the Vermont Reach Up Program is to work alongside parents as they strive to achieve their goals, overcome obstacles, and explore new opportunities.  Participants of this program have the opportunity to work one-on-one with a caseworker trained in the kinds of issues that everyday citizens face.  With these experts’ help, participants create an organized, achievable plan to “reach up” from financial hardship.

In exchange for monthly payments intended for gas, food, electricity, and other necessities, participants of the Reach Up Program complete a set number of weekly hours dedicated to helping them with their goals.  Most often, this includes training that could potentially lead to new career opportunities.

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While enrolled in this program, participants also have access to:

  • Free weatherization services
  • Emergency Rental Assistance
  • Child support temporarily covered by the state
  • Eligibility for further financial support

Reach Up is constantly growing and changing to reflect the needs of the times.  Recently, this program provided a cash bonus to students returning to school in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic.  In order to offset the cost of uniforms, supplies, and other school-related needs, each child was allotted a sum of $304. 

One major goal this program aims to achieve is to help participants become fully independent.  In many cases, people who successfully achieve their goals and receive higher-paying employment may even be able to continue accessing help from Reach Up for another six months, just to ensure that they have a chance to get settled into their new life. 

Ultimately, the Vermont Reach Up Program is about ensuring that no child ever has to grow up trapped in the cycle of poverty. 

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Every child and family deserves an equal shot at a fulfilling, financially stable life!

Who Qualifies for the Reach Up Program?

To qualify for this program, you simply must be a citizen of the state of Vermont, have at least one child, and be able to prove that your family could benefit from this service.   From there, a caseworker will determine your qualification based on your income, financial needs, the value of your property and/or resources, and who lives in your home.  This program is open to both couples and single parents. 

It’s worth noting that this qualification isn’t necessarily a “one-time-only” process.  Once you’ve qualified for the program, you must meet all requirements in order to continue benefiting from the advantages it offers. 

As I mentioned before, each participant must dedicate a set number of weekly hours to achieving their personalized “Family Development Plan.”  If you are capable of working, the Department of Children and Families may require you to keep a job during your program.  Even if you haven’t had a job in a long time and worry about your ability to obtain one, the Vermont Reach Up Program will help you find employment. 

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The work requirements of this program differ depending on each person or couple’s needs.  Younger parents, for example, may simply be asked to focus on pursuing their educational goals rather than taking on additional work.  A couple will be asked to maintain forty hours of work per week; this may be the responsibility of a single person or split between the two of them. Other factors include the child’s age or a parent’s disability. 

Don’t let fear over work requirements stop you from applying.  This program is operated by caring people.  If you’re under circumstances that make it difficult to work, they will take this into consideration! Work exclusions may differ for those facing limited transportation, abusive situations, or complete lack of child care.

The Vermont Reach Up Program isn’t intended to be a “handout.”  It’s simply a helpful step up to a brighter future!

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Whether you need job training or help finding employment, The Reach Up Program is here to help.

How to Apply for the Reach Up Program

The application for this program is simple and involves only two easy steps:

Apply

To participate in Reach Up, your first step should be to reach out!

An application can be completed in one of three ways: online, on paper, or in person. To complete the online application, follow the link here, then complete the easy step-by-step process. 

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If you feel more comfortable working in person or through paper, you can find the help you need at your local district office.  You could also call the number 1-800-479-6151 to be mailed the information you need. 

Once the appropriate offices receive your application, you should be hearing from a caseworker to schedule your interview. 

Interview

Don’t be nervous!  This interview is a judgment-free zone.  The caseworker simply needs a chance to get to know you and your situation prior to making any decisions regarding whether or not you qualify for this opportunity.  The interview itself is short and might be completed either in person or over the phone. 

Final Thoughts

The Vermont Reach Up Program isn’t one based on the idea of judgment; it’s one of compassion.  Participation in this program means working with a team dedicated to helping you and your family achieve the best life possible. 

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Jessica Richburg is a freelance writer and educator. A graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi, she's located on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, where she passes the time reading, writing, and trying not to be eaten by her feral cat.