Reach Up: Ending Child Poverty is Within Our Reach

Reach Up is tasked with improving children’s well-being by providing for immediate basic needs, including food, housing, transportation, and clothing. Partial funding has meant that the program continues to fall short of its objectives. We must do more in order to create economic security for families and eliminate the experience of poverty and improve child well-being.

The Alliance supports Voices for Vermont’s Children in their request that the Legislature eliminates the “ratable reduction” that reduces the Reach Up benefit by about 50%; uses current cost of living to create a base Reach Up grant that is adequate; and prioritizes making permanently affordable housing accessible.

Results: No additional funding, minor language change

H. 94, passed last year, required the Administration to produce a report with an actionable plan to eliminate the ratable reduction in five years. The report was submitted in March.

Unfortunately, neither the Governor nor the Legislature proposed any increases or improvements to the Reach Up benefit in the FY25 Budget. The House Human Services Committee did recommend steps be taken to reduce the ratable reduction following the outlines of H. 94, but this proposal did not have sufficient support to make it into the House budget proposal.

Language was added to the Legislature’s FY25 Budget requiring that the annual report from the Administration on the cost of providing full Reach Up benefits prior to the “ratable reduction” must use the current fiscal year’s basic needs calculation, rather than an outdated one. This change will ensure that the benefit shortfall and full funding needs will be more accurately reported in future years.

Lead Organization: Voices for Vermont’s Children for the Vermont Reach Up Coalition

Talking Points

  • 35% of children between the ages of 0 and 8 live below 200% of the federal poverty level (FPL), and 5% of children in VT live in extreme poverty. 
  • Children are 54% more likely than adults to live in poverty in the United States. 
  • On average, over 3700 children aged 9 and under were in households enrolled in Reach Up at one point in FFY22

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