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Title 33: Human Services

Chapter 011: REACH UP

  • Subchapter 001: GENERAL PROVISIONS; ELIGIBILITY, AID, AND SERVICES
  • § 1101. Definitions

    As used in this chapter:

    (1) "Able to work" means to be free of any physical, emotional, or mental condition that would prevent the individual from engaging in any combination of the work activities identified in subdivisions (28)(A) through (E) of this section for at least 35 hours per week.

    (2) "Able to work part time" means having a physical, emotional, or mental condition that would allow the individual to engage in any combination of the work activities identified in subdivisions (28)(A) through (E) of this section for at least 10 hours per week but would prevent the individual from engaging in such activities for 35 or more hours per week.

    (3) "Adult" means an individual who:

    (A) is 18 years of age or older and not a dependent child; or

    (B) is under 18 years of age and:

    (i) is pregnant; or

    (ii) is a parent who is the caretaker for a dependent child.

    (4) "Assessment" means the information-gathering process, carried out by the Department's established protocol, that identifies an individual's skills, aptitudes, interests, life and work experience, and barriers, and the determination of how these factors relate to the individual's current or potential participation in the labor force and his or her family responsibilities. Where appropriate, this process includes the use of tests, other standardized measurement tools, and referrals to relevant professionals for evaluation or diagnosis. The Department shall use the information gathered as part of this process in developing the individual's family development plan as well as, where applicable, assessing the appropriateness and feasibility of the individual's education, training, and employment goals and determining the individual's ability to work. The Department shall include a process to determine the development and well-being of the children in the family.

    (5) "Barrier" means any physical, emotional, or mental condition; any lack of an educational, vocational, or other skill or ability; and any lack of transportation, child care, housing, medical assistance, or other services or resources, domestic violence circumstances, caretaker responsibilities, or other conditions or circumstances that prevent an individual from engaging in employment or other work activity.

    (6) "Caretaker" means an individual 18 years of age or older who is fulfilling a parental role in caring for a dependent child by providing physical care, guidance, and decision making related to the child's health, school, medical care, and discipline.

    (7) "Case management" means the services provided by or through the Department to participating families, including assessment, information, referrals, and assistance in the preparation and implementation of a family development plan under section 1107 of this title.

    (8) "Commissioner" means the Commissioner for Children and Families or his or her designee.

    (9) "Department" means the Department for Children and Families.

    (10) "Dependent child" means a child who is a resident of this State and:

    (A) is under 18 years of age; or

    (B) is 18 years of age or older who is a full-time student in a secondary school, or attending an equivalent level of vocational or technical training, and is reasonably expected to complete the educational program before reaching 19 years of age or is not expected to complete the educational program before reaching 19 years of age solely due to a documented disability.

    (11) "Eligible family" means a family that is determined to be financially eligible for the programs authorized by this chapter, in accordance with rules adopted by the Commissioner.

    (12) "Family" means:

    (A) one or more dependent children living with one or both parents or a relative or caretaker of such children; or

    (B) a pregnant individual.

    (13) "Financial assistance" means cash, payments, electronic or direct payments for a family's housing or other expenses, and other forms of benefits designed to meet a family's ongoing basic needs that are available through the Reach Up program. A family's ongoing basic needs include food, clothing, shelter, utilities, household goods, personal care items, and general incidental expenses.

    (14) "Living with a relative or caretaker" means living with a caretaker or relative in a residence maintained by the caretaker or one or more relatives as his or her or their home.

    (15) "Parent" means:

    (A) the same as in 15C V.S.A. § 102(16);

    (B) stepparents; and

    (C) pregnant individuals.

    (16) "Participant" or "participating adult" means an adult member of a participating family.

    (17) "Participating family" means an eligible family that participates in the Reach Up program.

    (18) "Reach Ahead" means the program established in chapter 12 of this title.

    (19) "Reach First" means the program established in chapter 10 of this title.

    (20) "Reach Up " means the program administered by the Department that assists and enables eligible families to become self-sufficient by providing financial assistance and Reach Up services.

    (21) "Reach Up services" means the service component of the Reach Up program consisting of case management services, support services, and referrals provided to eligible families to assist them in becoming self-sufficient.

    (22) "Relative" means a person related to a dependent child, as defined by the Department by rule.

    (23) "Resources" means any income and property available from whatever source.

    (24) "Secretary" means the Secretary of Human Services or his or her designee.

    (25) "Subsidized job" means employment for which the employer receives a subsidy from TANF funds or other public funds to offset some or all of the wages and costs of employing a participant.

    (26) "Temporary Assistance to Needy Families" or "TANF" means the block grant provided to this State and established in accordance with Part A of Title IV of the federal Social Security Act, as amended, and the regulations promulgated under the Act by the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services.

    (27) "Unable to work" means not able to work and not able to work part time.

    (28) "Work activities" means the following activities, limited to the extent and degree that they are allowed and countable in accordance with Part A of Title IV of the Social Security Act:

    (A) unsubsidized employment;

    (B) subsidized private sector employment;

    (C) subsidized public sector employment;

    (D) work experience (including work associated with the refurbishing of publicly assisted housing) if sufficient private sector employment is not available;

    (E) on-the-job training;

    (F) job search and job readiness assistance;

    (G) community service programs;

    (H) vocational educational training (not to exceed 12 months with respect to any individual);

    (I) job skills training directly related to employment;

    (J) education directly related to employment, in the case of a recipient who has not received a high school diploma or a certificate of high school equivalency;

    (K) satisfactory attendance at secondary school or in a course of study leading to a certificate of general equivalence, in the case of a recipient who has not completed secondary school or received such a certificate;

    (L) the provision, consistent with the Department's rules applicable to self-employment, of child care services to an individual who is participating in a community service program;

    (M) attendance at a financial literacy class; and

    (N) any other work activity recognized in accordance with Part A of Title IV of the Social Security Act as amended.

    (29) "Work-ready" means the participant possesses the education or skills demanded by the local job market or is capable of participating in one or more work activities at the level required by the participant's work requirement, and is not subject to any barrier. (Added 1967, No. 147, § 4, eff. date, see note below; amended 1969, No. 256 (Adj. Sess.), § 6, eff. April 6, 1970; 1973, No. 152 (Adj. Sess.), §§ 20, 30, 37, eff. April 14, 1974; 1981, No. 108, § 320; 1999, No. 147 (Adj. Sess.), § 4; 1999, No. 147 (Adj. Sess.), § 1, eff. July 1, 2001; 2005, No. 113 (Adj. Sess.), § 2; 2005, No. 174 (Adj. Sess.), § 82; 2007, No. 30, § 2, eff. May 17, 2007; 2013, No. 131 (Adj. Sess.), § 23, eff. May 20, 2014; 2019, No. 72, § E.323.2; 2021, No. 20, § 286.)

  • § 1102. Purpose

    (a) The purpose of the Reach Up program is:

    (1) to assist families, recognizing individual and unique characteristics, to obtain the opportunities and skills necessary for self-sufficiency;

    (2) to encourage economic independence by removing barriers and disincentives to work and providing positive incentives to work;

    (3) to support parental nurturing;

    (4) to support parental responsibility and positive parental role models, both custodial and noncustodial;

    (5) to measure the success of the system by what is best for children;

    (6) to improve the well-being of children by providing for their immediate basic needs, including food, housing, and clothing;

    (7) to respect the dignity of individuals and families receiving assistance by providing employment, education, and other services through social service delivery systems available to all Vermont residents and by encouraging the private sector to integrate families receiving assistance into the mainstream of the employment market;

    (8) to recognize the challenges facing many families receiving assistance by minimizing structural financial disincentives to increased earnings and the abrupt termination of assistance before parents are fully integrated into the employment market;

    (9) to conserve State public financial resources by operating the system of aid in a manner that is efficient and avoids federal fiscal sanctions; and

    (10) to conform to the federal TANF law.

    (b) The critical elements of developing a program that assists families to attain self-sufficiency are:

    (1) the opportunity and obligation to work for those parents who are physically, emotionally, and otherwise able to do so;

    (2) cooperative and realistic goal-setting, coupled with individualized case management that addresses each individual's situation and barriers to self-sufficiency;

    (3) rigorous child support collection from noncustodial parents; and

    (4) a full range of supportive modalities, including appropriate training, education, financial assistance, child care, counseling, and transportation. (Added 1993, No. 106 (Adj. Sess.), § 2, eff. Jan. 12, 1994; amended 1999, No. 147 (Adj. Sess.), § 1, eff. July 1, 2001; 2007, No. 30, § 3, eff. May 17, 2007.)

  • § 1103. Eligibility and benefit levels

    (a) Financial assistance shall be given for the benefit of a dependent child to the relative or caretaker with whom the child is living, unless otherwise provided. The amount of financial assistance to which an eligible person is entitled shall be determined with due regard to the income, resources, and maintenance available to that person and, as far as funds are available, shall provide that person a reasonable subsistence compatible with decency and health. The Commissioner may fix by rule maximum amounts of financial assistance and act to ensure that the expenditures for the programs shall not exceed appropriations for them consistent with section 101 of this title. In no case shall the Department expend State funds in excess of the appropriations for the programs under this chapter.

    (b) Financial assistance may include the maintenance of one or both parents, if in need and in the dependent child's home, or a relative or caretaker with whom a dependent child is living, if the relative or caretaker is without sufficient means of support.

    (c) The Commissioner shall adopt rules for the determination of eligibility for the Reach Up program and benefit levels for all participating families that include the following provisions:

    (1) No less than the first $250.00 per month of earnings from an unsubsidized job and 25 percent of the remaining unsubsidized earnings shall be disregarded in determining the amount of the family's financial assistance grant. The family shall receive the difference between countable income and the Reach Up payment standard in a partial financial assistance grant.

    (2) No less than the first $90.00 per month of earnings from a subsidized job shall be disregarded in determining the amount of the family's financial assistance grant. The family shall receive the difference between countable income and the Reach Up payment standard in a partial financial assistance grant. Earnings from subsidized jobs shall qualify for federal and State earned income credit if the family is otherwise eligible for such credit.

    (3) Each family development plan shall provide for an incentive payment to be paid to the participating family for completing a required activity or task.

    (4) Education stipends, employment stipends, job training stipends, and incentive payments, as determined by the Commissioner, shall be excluded in calculating the financial assistance grant.

    (5)(A) The asset limitation shall be $9,000.00 for families for the purposes of determining initial and continuing eligibility for the Reach Up program, and the following savings accounts shall not be considered in the calculation for determining the asset limitation:

    (i) a retirement account, such as an individual retirement arrangement (IRA), a defined contribution plan qualified under 26 U.S.C. § 401(k), or any similar account as defined in 26 U.S.C. § 408; and

    (ii) a qualified child education savings account, such as the Vermont Higher Education Investment Plan, established in 16 V.S.A. § 2877, or any similar plan qualified under 26 U.S.C. § 529.

    (B) The value of assets accumulated from the earnings of adults and children in participating families and from any federal or Vermont earned income tax credit shall be excluded for purposes of determining continuing eligibility for the Reach Up program.

    (6) Transitional medical assistance of up to 36 months shall be provided to families with a working adult who becomes ineligible for financial assistance due to increased earnings, unless family income exceeds 185 percent of the federal poverty level, and provided that federal financial participation is available for such transitional medical assistance.

    (7) The equity value of one operable motor vehicle for each adult in the family and the equity value of one operable motor vehicle for any child of driving age who needs a vehicle to attend school or work shall be excluded for purposes of determining eligibility for the Reach Up program. The Commissioner shall take all steps necessary to retain current resource protections under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) so that the rules under SNAP and the Reach Up program are compatible.

    (8) An individual domiciled in Vermont shall be exempt from the disqualification provided for in 21 U.S.C. § 862a.

    (9) [Repealed.]

    (d) In determining eligibility and benefit levels for two-parent participating families, the Commissioner shall:

    (1) Allow two-parent families with earned income who would otherwise qualify for assistance to receive financial assistance, regardless of the number of hours worked, and supplement their earnings with partial financial assistance and medical assistance.

    (2) Eliminate the requirements for two-parent families that the primary worker must have worked at least six quarters and be unemployed for at least 30 days. It is the intent of this subdivision that two-parent and one-parent families receive financial assistance under more similar rules.

    (e) In determining eligibility and benefit levels for parents who are under 18 in participating families, the Commissioner shall:

    (1) Require parents who are under 18 to attend school or an appropriate alternative education or training activity.

    (2) Ensure that the family development plan of a parent who is under 18 includes a requirement to take part in a case-managed support, education, and training program.

    (3) Adopt rules, which shall include appropriate exemptions, requiring parents who are under 18 and who are not emancipated minors in accordance with 12 V.S.A. § 7151 to live with a parent or in an approved supervised living arrangement. The sanctions provided for noncompliance with a Reach Up family development plan requirement under section 1116 of this title shall apply to noncompliance with the rules adopted under this subdivision.

    (4) Allow parents who are under 18 and who live with their parents to have their eligibility for the Reach Up program and the amount of their financial assistance grant determined without consideration of their parents' income.

    (f) The Commissioner shall disregard no less than $50.00 per month of child support payments in determining eligibility and benefit levels for participating families.

    (g) The Commissioner shall use the family composition rules applicable to the welfare demonstration project established pursuant to 1994 Acts and Resolves No. 106 in determining eligibility and benefit levels for a financial assistance grant.

    (h) The Department shall offer every eligible family the option of electronic or direct payment of financial assistance for the family's housing or other expenses to the person providing the lodging, utilities, or other service as provided for by rule. (Added 1967, No. 147, § 4; amended 1973, No. 152 (Adj. Sess.), § 21, eff. April 14, 1974; 1999, No. 147 (Adj. Sess.), § 1, eff. July 1, 2001; 2005, No. 113 (Adj. Sess.), § 1; 2007, No. 30, § 4, eff. May 17, 2007; 2009, No. 1 (Sp. Sess.), § E.323; 2013, No. 131 (Adj. Sess.), § 24, eff. May 20, 2014; 2013, No. 198 (Adj. Sess.), § 1, eff. July 1, 2015; 2015, No. 58, § E.323; 2015, No. 172 (Adj. Sess.), § E.323.2; 2017, No. 29, § 2; 2017, No. 109 (Adj. Sess.), § 1; 2019, No. 72, § E.323.1; 2021, No. 74, § E.323.1.)

  • § 1104. Abandonment or desertion; reporting

    Immediately upon granting assistance for the benefit of a dependent child who has been abandoned or deserted by a parent, the Commissioner shall give notice to the appropriate prosecuting officer charged with the duty of enforcing laws relating to the abandonment or desertion of children or minors. (Added 1967, No. 147, § 4; amended 1999, No. 147 (Adj. Sess.), § 1, eff. July 1, 2001; 2013, No. 131 (Adj. Sess.), § 25, eff. May 20, 2014.)

  • § 1105. Child support payments

    (a) A financial assistance case shall not be closed until child support payments, minus the first $50.00 per month in such payments received on behalf of the family, in combination with other countable income, have exceeded the financial assistance payment standard in 12 consecutive calendar months.

    (b) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, if financial assistance to a participating family is terminated due to receipt of child support, minus the first $50.00 per month in such payments, that in combination with other countable income is in excess of the financial assistance cash payment standard, and the family again becomes eligible for financial assistance within the following 12 calendar months solely because the family no longer receives excess child support, financial assistance shall be paid as of the date of the family's reapplication. (Added 1993, No. 106 (Adj. Sess.), § 2, eff. Jan. 12, 1994; amended 1999, No. 147 (Adj. Sess.), § 1, eff. July 1, 2001; 2007, No. 30, § 5, eff. May 17, 2007.)

  • § 1106. Required services to participating families

    (a) The Commissioner shall provide participating families case management services, periodic reassessment of service needs and the family development plan, and referral to any agencies or programs that provide the services needed by participating families to improve the family's prospects for job placement and job retention, including the following:

    (1) Appropriate child care, available at times that will enable employment or participation in services indicated by the participating family's family development plan. As used in this subdivision, "appropriate child care" shall not include:

    (A) child care that the Department classifies as legally exempt child care, and that a parent or caretaker determines to be unacceptable; and

    (B) child care that the Department classifies as either a registered family child care home or a licensed child care facility, and that a parent or caretaker determines to be unacceptable when such determination is confirmed by the Department.

    (2) Transportation which will enable employment or participation in services indicated by the participating family's family development plan.

    (3) Career counseling, education, and training, job search assistance, and postsecondary education consistent with the purposes of this chapter.

    (4) Vocational rehabilitation.

    (5) Medical assistance.

    (6) Homelessness prevention and housing assistance. For homeless families, housing search is a "job-readiness assistance activity" as long as consistent with the Department's rules.

    (7) Family planning education and counseling.

    (8) Assistance with obtaining documentation of an apparent or claimed physical, emotional, or mental condition that reasonably can be presumed to limit or eliminate the individual's capacity to engage in employment or other work activity.

    (9) Services for teen parents through the teen parent education program established in cooperation with the Agency of Education.

    (10) Any other services identified in the family development plan and determined by the Commissioner to be necessary and appropriate to achieve the purposes of this chapter.

    (b) The Commissioner shall provide specialized case management services to families no later than four months after a family's financial assistance grant has been reduced as a result of a sanction under section 1116 of this title. The specialized case management shall be provided through a performance-based contract in order to intervene in the family's situation with the goal of compliance with an appropriate family development plan or work requirements as required under sections 1112 and 1113 of this title. The contract may be performed by another department within the Agency or by a community-based organization. If, after two months, a family fails to participate in specialized case management, case management shall resume through Reach Up. (Added 1999, No. 147 (Adj. Sess.), § 1, eff. July 1, 2001; amended 2007, No. 30, § 6, eff. May 17, 2007; 2009, No. 146 (Adj. Sess.), § C12; 2013, No. 92 (Adj. Sess.), § 291, eff. Feb. 14, 2014; 2015, No. 172 (Adj. Sess.), § E.323.3.)

  • § 1107. Case management; family development plans; coordinated services

    (a)(1) The Commissioner shall provide all Reach Up services to participating families through a case management model informed by knowledge of the family's home, community, employment, and available resources. Services may be delivered in the district office, the family's home, or the community in a way that facilitates progress toward accomplishment of the family development plan. Case management may be provided to other eligible families. The case manager, with the full involvement of the family, shall recommend, and the Commissioner shall modify as necessary, a family development plan established under the Reach First or Reach Up program for each participating family, with a right of appeal as provided by section 1132 of this title. A case manager shall be assigned to each participating family as soon as the family begins to receive financial assistance. If administratively feasible and appropriate, the case manager shall be the same case manager the family was assigned in the Reach First program. The applicant for or recipient of financial assistance under this chapter shall have the burden of demonstrating the existence of his or her condition.

    (2) The case manager shall meet with each participating family following any statutory or rule changes affecting the amount of the earned income disregard, asset limitations, or other eligibility or benefit criteria in the Reach Up program to inform the family of the changes and advise the family about ways to maximize the opportunities to achieve earned income without a corresponding loss of benefits.

    (b) The case manager shall establish a schedule for periodic review of the family development plan. In addition, the case manager shall review, and modify if necessary, the plan in the following circumstances:

    (1) there is a lack of satisfactory progress in achieving the goals of the plan;

    (2) the parent or caretaker has lost unsubsidized or subsidized employment;

    (3) a family member has failed to comply with a family development plan requirement or a work requirement;

    (4) services required by the plan are unavailable;

    (5) at least 30 days prior to when the parent or caretaker would become work-ready or would otherwise be deemed work-ready on the basis of 12-cumulative-month receipt of financial assistance;

    (6) a deferment or modification of the work requirements imposed by section 1113 of this title has been requested or is due for review;

    (7) within 30 days of when the parent or caretaker has started an unsubsidized or subsidized job; or

    (8) changes to the plan are needed to protect the well-being of the children.

    (c) The Commissioner shall adopt rules, consistent with research on best practices, establishing maximum caseloads for case managers.

    (d) The Secretary of Education, with the assistance and support of the Commissioner for Children and Families, the Commissioner of Disabilities, Aging, and Independent Living, and the Commissioner of Labor, shall develop and implement comparable and reciprocally recognized literacy assessment protocols that will be used for all clients seeking adult education and literacy services; related services of the Agency of Education; or the services of the Department of Disabilities, Aging, and Independent Living, the Department of Labor, or the Department for Children and Families, when such services are being sought for the purpose of developing or strengthening competencies or skills related to the clients' current or future employment. Such protocols shall, to the extent practicable, utilize the same terminology and apply comparable criteria, consistent with individual program purposes and authorization, in determining when testing, other standardized measurement tools, or referrals to relevant professionals for evaluation or diagnosis are appropriate.

    (e) The Secretary shall work cooperatively with public and private, local, and regional entities:

    (1) to develop subsidized jobs with employers, using the same health and safety standards in effect for unsubsidized jobs;

    (2) to develop work placements that incorporate an adult education and literacy component into the hours of work for participants who need to continue to work on their secondary education while fulfilling their work requirement;

    (3) to adopt rules which set priorities for services of benefit to the people of Vermont, and which prevent displacement of previous unsubsidized workers by subsidized Reach Up program participants; and

    (4) to ensure that necessary support services are available, appropriate, and within a reasonable distance, including child care, health care, and transportation.

    (f) The Secretary shall:

    (1) work with community providers to develop and maintain an adequate number and variety of supervised living alternatives designed to meet the individual needs of parents who are under 18;

    (2) work with community providers to develop and maintain parenting, training, and education options for parents who are under 18;

    (3) establish and maintain an information program to enable parents to learn about and take advantage of benefits and services that are available to parents who work outside the home;

    (4) increase public awareness of the federal and State earned income tax credits, and encourage families who may be eligible to apply for such tax credits; and

    (5) in partnership with the Human Resources Investment Council, develop and maintain one or more job training and employment programs for noncustodial parents to encourage long-term economic self-sufficiency and, by extension, their ability to pay child support. (Added 1999, No. 147 (Adj. Sess.), § 1, eff. July 1, 2001; amended 1999, No. 147 (Adj. Sess.), § 4; 2005, No. 103 (Adj. Sess.), § 3, eff. April 5, 2006; 2005, No. 174 (Adj. Sess.), § 83; 2007, No. 30, § 7, eff. May 17, 2007; 2013, No. 50, § E.323; 2013, No. 92 (Adj. Sess.), § 292, eff. Feb. 14, 2014; 2013, No. 131 (Adj. Sess.), § 26, eff. May 20, 2014; 2013, No. 198 (Adj. Sess.), § 2; 2017, No. 109 (Adj. Sess.), § 2.)

  • § 1108. Limits on family financial assistance

    (a) Except for grants to children in the care of persons other than their parents, only participating families who have received fewer than 60 cumulative months of financial assistance, including those months in which any type of cash assistance funded by a TANF block grant was received in other states or territories of the United States, shall be eligible for benefits under the Reach Up program.

    (b) Deferment granted for the following reasons shall not count toward the Reach Up program's cumulative 60-month lifetime eligibility period:

    (1) the participant is not able-to-work;

    (2) the participant is a parent or caretaker who is caring for a child during the first year of a possible two-year deferment pursuant to subdivision 1114(b)(3) of this chapter;

    (3) the participant is affected by domestic violence pursuant to subdivision 1114(b)(9) of this chapter; and

    (4) the participant is needed in the home on a full-time basis to care for an ill or disabled parent, spouse, or child pursuant to subdivision 1114(b)(5) of this chapter.

    (c) The cumulative 60-month lifetime eligibility period shall not begin to toll until the parent or parents of a participating family have reached the age of 18.

    (d) Notwithstanding subsection (a) of this section, a participating family that does not have a qualifying deferment under section 1114 of this title and that has exceeded the cumulative 60-month lifetime eligibility period set forth in subsection (a) of this section shall qualify for a hardship exemption that allows the adult member of the participating family to receive:

    (1) a wage equivalent to that of the participating family's cash benefit under the Reach Up program for participation in any of the work activities listed in subdivision 1101(28) of this title, with the exception of subdivision (28)(L); or

    (2) supplemental benefits to the wages of the adult member of the participating family if the work requirement is otherwise being met. (Added 1999, No. 147 (Adj. Sess.), § 1, eff. July 1, 2001; amended 2007, No. 30, § 8, eff. May 17, 2007; 2013, No. 50, § E.323.1, eff. May 1, 2014; 2015, No. 172 (Adj. Sess.), § E.323.)


  • Subchapter 002: REACH UP PROGRAM FAMILY DEVELOPMENT PLAN AND WORK REQUIREMENTS
  • § 1112. Family development plan requirements

    (a) Each participating adult in a family applying for or receiving financial assistance shall comply with each Reach Up family development plan requirement provided for in the family development plan, unless good cause exists for such noncompliance as defined by the Commissioner by rule.

    (b) The family's receipt of the full financial assistance amount allowable and avoidance of fiscal sanctions are contingent on the participating adult assisting in the development of his or her family development plan and engaging in the family development plan activities for the number of hours per week that the activities are scheduled and available, unless good cause exists for not doing so as defined by the Commissioner by rule. (Added 1999, No. 147 (Adj. Sess.), § 1, eff. July 1, 2001; amended 2005, No. 103 (Adj. Sess.), § 3, eff. April 5, 2006; 2007, No. 30, § 9, eff. May 17, 2007.)

  • § 1113. Work requirements

    (a) Each participating adult in a family receiving a financial assistance grant shall fulfill a work requirement in accordance with this section. Subject to the provisions of this chapter, and provided that all services required by this chapter are offered when appropriate and are available when needed to support fulfillment of the work requirement, an adult having a work requirement shall obtain employment or participate in one or more work activities, and shall work in accordance with the requirements of this section, in order to maintain continued eligibility for financial assistance and to avoid fiscal sanctions.

    (b)(1) The work requirement shall become effective as soon as the participating adult is work-ready, or upon the family's receipt of 12 cumulative months of financial assistance, whichever is sooner, unless at the end of the 12-cumulative-month period the participant's case manager concludes that the participant is unable to meet the hours of the applicable unmodified work requirement, as established in subsection (c) of this section. In such cases, the case manager shall prepare a written request on behalf of the participant for an extension of up to six months. The request shall identify the particular reasons why the participant is unable to meet the work requirement and the remedial actions and services to be provided to the recipient to enable fulfillment of the requirement. The request shall be submitted to the Commissioner or the Commissioner's designee for approval. The request shall be approved unless the participant is able to meet the work requirement or a modified work requirement established in accordance with section 1114 of this title.

    (2) A participant may meet the work requirement through a combination of work activities until the participant has received 24 months of financial assistance. After that time, the participant shall meet the work requirement through employment.

    (c) A participating family shall be deemed to meet the work requirement if:

    (1) In two-parent families in which neither parent receives Supplemental Security Income (SSI), a combined total of at least 35 hours a week of employment or work activities or the number of hours the parents have been determined able-to-work by the Department is completed. One or both parents may contribute to the completion of the employment or work activities required by this subdivision.

    (2) In a two-parent family in which one parent receives SSI:

    (A) If the family includes a child six years of age or older, the work-eligible parent shall participate in one or more work activities for at least 30 hours per week or the number of hours the parent has been determined able-to-work by the Department.

    (B) If the family includes a child under six years of age, the work-eligible parent shall participate in one or more work activities for at least 20 hours per week or the number of hours the parent has been determined able-to-work by the Department.

    (C) As used in this subdivision (c)(2), "work-eligible parent" means a parent who is not receiving SSI.

    (3) In a single-parent family:

    (A) If the family's youngest child is six years of age or older, the participant shall participate in one or more work activities for at least 30 hours per week or the number of hours the parent has been determined able-to-work by the Department.

    (B) If the family's youngest child is under six years of age, the participant shall participate in one or more work activities for at least 20 hours per week or the number of hours the parent has been determined able-to-work by the Department.

    (4) A pregnant individual who is employed shall continue such employment unless there has been a medical determination that the individual is unable-to-work, or the individual is exempt from the work requirement based on other criteria established by the Commissioner by rule. A pregnant individual shall not be required to begin new employment.

    (d)(1) A participant required to fulfill a work requirement shall accept any unsubsidized job he or she is capable of performing, even if it pays wages that are less than the financial assistance grant. In cases in which monthly wages are less than the financial assistance grant and the family is otherwise eligible, the wages shall be supplemented with a partial financial assistance grant. The Commissioner shall establish by rule criteria for jobs that must be accepted if offered, including the criterion that each job must pay at least minimum wage.

    (2) A participating adult who had wages in the three months prior to his or her application for financial assistance that, when annualized, equal or exceed 150 percent of the federal poverty level applicable to the participating adult's family shall not be required to accept employment with annualized earnings of less than 150 percent of the federal poverty level applicable to the participating adult's family for the three-month period after being deemed eligible for financial assistance, provided that the participant:

    (A) has not been disqualified within the prior six months from receiving unemployment compensation benefits for failing, without good cause, either to apply for available, suitable work when so directed by the employment office or the Commissioner of Labor, or to accept suitable work when offered;

    (B) is not sanctioned within the three-month period immediately following being deemed eligible for financial assistance;

    (C) does not leave an unsubsidized job without good cause within the three-month period immediately following being deemed eligible for financial assistance;

    (D) follows through in a satisfactory manner on all referrals to employment opportunities;

    (E) is engaged in acceptable work activities in accordance with this section; and

    (F) agrees to accept any unsubsidized job if still unemployed after completion of the three-month period immediately following the determination of eligibility to receive financial assistance.

    (3) A postsecondary education program participant who has received a degree and any Reach Up participant who has recently completed specialized vocational training shall not be required to accept an unsubsidized job that is unrelated to his or her training or degree for the three-month period immediately following completion of such education or training, provided that the participant:

    (A) is not sanctioned within that three-month period;

    (B) does not leave an unsubsidized job related to his or her training or degree without good cause within that three-month period;

    (C) follows through in a satisfactory manner on all referrals to employment opportunities related to his or her training or degree;

    (D) is engaged in acceptable work activities in accordance with this section; and

    (E) agrees to accept any unsubsidized job if still unemployed after such three-month period.

    (e) The Commissioner may require a participant to participate in a job search, coordinated by the Commissioner, for the number of hours per week that corresponds to the participant's work requirement hours under subsection (c) of this section, or a lesser amount that in combination with the participant's unsubsidized employment equals the participant's work requirement hours under subsection (c) of this section.

    (f) Notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter, a participant's hours of unpaid work activities that are not primarily education, job search, job readiness, or training activities shall not exceed the levels established by the Fair Labor Standards Act. Adjustments required to conform with the Fair Labor Standards Act shall be made pursuant to calculation standards established by the Commissioner by rule. (Added 1999, No. 147 (Adj. Sess.), § 1, eff. July 1, 2001; amended 2007, No. 30, § 10, eff. May 17, 2007; 2013, No. 131 (Adj. Sess.), § 27, eff. May 20, 2014; 2017, No. 109 (Adj. Sess.), § 3.)

  • § 1114. Deferments, modifications, and referral

    (a) The Commissioner shall establish by rule criteria, standards, and procedures for granting deferments from or modifications to the work requirements established in section 1113 of this title, in accordance with the provisions of this section and for referring individuals with disabilities to the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation.

    (b) The work requirements shall be either modified or deferred for:

    (1) A participant for whom no unsubsidized or subsidized job or other equivalent supervised work activity recognized by the Commissioner by rule is available.

    (2) A participant for whom support services that are essential to employment and other work activities and identified in the family development plan cannot be arranged. Such services shall include case management, education and job training, child care, and transportation.

    (3) A primary caretaker parent in a two-parent family in which one parent is able-to-work-part-time or unable-to-work, a single parent, or a caretaker who is caring for a child who has not attained 24 months of age for no more than 24 months of the parent's or caretaker's lifetime receipt of financial assistance. To qualify for such deferment, a parent or caretaker of a child older than the age of six months but younger than 24 months shall cooperate in the development of and participate in a family development plan.

    (4) An individual who has exhausted the 24 months of deferment provided for in subdivision (3) of this subsection and who is caring for a child who is not yet 13 weeks of age or a primary caretaker parent in a family with two parents who are able-to-work if the primary caretaker is caring for a child under 13 weeks of age and is otherwise subject to a work requirement because the other parent in the family is being sanctioned in accordance with section 1116 of this title.

    (5) A participant who is needed in the home on a full- or part-time basis in order to care for an ill or disabled parent, spouse, or child. In granting deferments, the Department shall fully consider the participant's preference as to the number of hours the participant is able to leave home to participate in work activities. A deferral or modification of the work requirement exceeding 60 days due to the existence of illness or disability pursuant to this subdivision shall be confirmed by the independent medical review of one or more physicians, physician assistants, advanced practice registered nurses, or other health care providers designated by the Secretary of Human Services prior to receipt of continued financial assistance under the Reach Up program.

    (6) A participant who is under 20 years of age, who is a single head of household or married, and who maintains satisfactory attendance at secondary school or the equivalent during the month, or participates in education directly related to employment for an average of 20 or more hours per week during the month.

    (7) A participant who has attained 20 years of age and who is engaged in at least 15 hours per week of classes and related learning activities for the purpose of attaining a high school diploma or General Educational Development (GED) certificate or completing a literacy program approved by the Department; provided that the participant is making satisfactory progress toward the attainment of the diploma or certificate; and provided further that a deferment or modification granted for this purpose does not exceed 18 months.

    (8) A participant who is enrolled in, attending, and making satisfactory progress toward the completion of a full-time vocational training program that has a normal duration of no more than two years and who is within 12 months of expected completion of such program. Such deferment or modification shall continue until he or she has completed the program, he or she is no longer attending the program, or the 12-month expected completion period has ended, whichever occurs first.

    (9) A participant for whom, due to the effects of domestic violence, fulfillment of the work requirement can be reasonably anticipated to result in serious physical or emotional harm to the participant that significantly impairs his or her capacity either to fulfill the work requirement or to care for his or her child adequately, or can be reasonably anticipated to result in serious physical or emotional harm to the child.

    (10) Any other participant designated by the Commissioner in accordance with criteria established by rule.

    (c) A participant who is able-to-work-part-time or is unable-to-work shall be referred for assessment of the individual's skills and strengths, accommodations and support services, and vocational and other services in accordance with the provisions of his or her family development plan. The work requirement hours shall reflect the individual's ability to work. Participants with disabilities that do not meet the standards used to determine disability under Title XVI of the Social Security Act shall participate in rehabilitation, education, or training programs as appropriate. A participant who qualifies for a deferment or modification and who is able-to-work-part-time shall have his or her work requirement hours modified or deferred. In granting deferments, the Department shall fully consider the participant's estimation of the number of hours the participant is able-to-work.

    (d) Absent an apparent condition or claimed physical, emotional, or mental condition, participants are presumed to be able-to-work. A participant shall have the burden of demonstrating the existence of the condition asserted as the basis for a deferral or modification of the work requirement. A deferral or modification of the work requirement exceeding 60 days due to the existence of conditions rendering the participant unable-to-work shall be confirmed by the independent medical review of one or more physicians, physician assistants, advanced practice registered nurses, or other health care providers designated by the Secretary of Human Services prior to receipt of continued financial assistance under the Reach Up program.

    (e) Deferments and modifications granted pursuant to this section shall continue for as long as the grounds for the deferment or modification exist or until expiration of a related time period specified in subsection (b) of this section, whichever occurs first.

    (f) As used in this section, "health care provider" means a person, partnership, or corporation, other than a facility or institution, licensed or certified or authorized by law to provide professional health care service in this State to an individual during that individual's medical care, treatment, or confinement. (Added 1999, No. 147 (Adj. Sess.), § 1, eff. July 1, 2001; amended 2007, No. 30, § 11, eff. May 17, 2007; 2013, No. 50, § E.323.2, eff. May 28, 2013; 2013, No. 179 (Adj. Sess.), § E.321.2; 2017, No. 109 (Adj. Sess.), § 4.)

  • § 1115. Obligation to fund services; good cause

    (a) A participant's family development plan requirement under section 1112 of this title and work requirement under section 1113 of this title shall be deferred when the case management services, training and educational services, and the family support services identified in the participant's family development plan are unavailable for reasons beyond the control of the participant, including when monies appropriated are not sufficient to provide such services.

    (b) No family who has been determined to be eligible for child care services pursuant to section 3512 of this title shall be displaced from or denied receipt of such services because the requirements of this chapter result in additional participating families applying for and receiving financial assistance for such child care services.

    (c) Services related to child care that are provided to two-parent families in which both parents are able-bodied and who are determined to be eligible for services pursuant to section 3512 of this title shall be paid from nonfederal funds.

    (d) The Commissioner shall design the Reach Up program so that it provides access to a full array of services to participating families identified by their family development plans within the funds appropriated by the General Assembly.

    (e) The Commissioner shall establish good cause rules for temporary or unexpected conditions or circumstances beyond the control of the participating parent which result in a parent's inability to participate in a Reach Up family development plan requirement, to participate in a work requirement, or to accept or retain employment. (Added 1999, No. 147 (Adj. Sess.), § 1, eff. July 1, 2001.)

  • § 1116. Sanctions

    (a) The financial assistance grant of a participating family shall be reduced, in accordance with the provisions of this section, if a participating adult fails without good cause to fully comply or continue to comply in full with the family development plan or work requirements in sections 1112 and 1113 of this title.

    (b) Prior to the reduction in a family's financial assistance grant resulting from a sanction imposed under this section, the Department shall provide an independent review of the participant's circumstances and the basis for his or her noncompliance. The Commissioner or the Commissioner's designee shall perform the review.

    (c)(1) For a first, second, and third month in which a participating adult is not in compliance with a family development plan or work requirement and has not demonstrated good cause for such noncompliance, the family's financial assistance grant shall be reduced by the amount of $75.00 for each adult sanctioned.

    (2) For the fourth and any subsequent month not subject to the reduction required by subsection (e) of this section in which a participating adult is not in compliance with a family development plan or work requirement and has not demonstrated good cause for such noncompliance, the family's financial assistance grant shall be reduced by the amount of $150.00 for each adult sanctioned.

    (d) A participant may cure a sanction by coming into compliance in accordance with the Department's rules. During the first 60 months of the family's receipt of financial assistance, a participating adult may have all previous sanctions forgiven by demonstrating 12 consecutive months of compliance with family development plan requirements or work requirements or any combination of the two. Subsequent acts of noncompliance after a sanctioned adult has completed a successful 12-month sanction forgiveness period will be treated in accordance with subdivisions (c)(1) and (2) of this section without consideration of the sanctions that have been forgiven.

    (e) [Repealed.]

    (f)(1) Under no circumstances during the first six months that a family's grant is reduced due to fiscal sanctions imposed pursuant to subsection (c) of this section shall the grant be reduced to less than an amount which in combination with the family's other countable income is less than the family's actual incurred housing costs up to the applicable maximum housing allowance.

    (2) The Commissioner shall provide the housing costs by electronic or direct payment to the person to whom housing costs are owed. Any balance of financial assistance remaining after the electronic or direct payment has been deducted shall be paid in two payments, the first to be paid within the first half of the calendar month and the second to be paid within the second half of the calendar month.

    (g) The financial assistance grant of a family that has been subject to a fiscal sanction for more than six cumulative months shall be reduced in accordance with the full sanction amounts and without any consideration of the housing costs protection established in subsection (f) of this section. This section shall not apply if the family, after the fiscal sanction period of more than six months, has an intervening period of no less than 36 months before another fiscal sanction and spends those months in a state of program compliance, grant closure, or any combination of the two.

    (h) To receive payments during the fiscal sanction period, an adult who is the subject of the sanction shall meet no less than once each month to report his or her circumstances to the case manager or to participate in assessments as directed by the case manager. In addition, this meeting shall be for initial assessment and development of the family development plan when such tasks have not been completed; reassessment or review and revision of the family development plan, if appropriate; and to encourage the participant to fulfill the work requirement. Meetings required under this section may take place in the district office, a community location, or in the participant's home. Facilitation of meeting the participant's family development plan goals shall be a primary consideration in determining the location of the meeting. The Commissioner may waive any meeting when extraordinary circumstances prevent a participant from attending. The Commissioner shall adopt rules to implement this subsection.

    (i) A family sanctioned under this section for failure to meet work or family development plan requirements shall remain eligible for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits and shall not, because of such failure, be sanctioned under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program for reasons of "failure to comply without good cause" and "voluntary quit without good cause," provided that such eligibility and waivers of such sanctions are consistent with federal law and regulations governing the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. (Added 1999, No. 147 (Adj. Sess.), § 1, eff. July 1, 2001; amended 2007, No. 30, §§ 12, 13, eff. May 17, 2007; 2009, No. 156 (Adj. Sess.), §§ E.323.1, E.323.2; 2011, No. 63, §§ C.105, C.105.1, eff. June 2, 2011; 2013, No. 50, § E.323.4, eff. May 1, 2014; 2013, No. 131 (Adj. Sess.), § 28, eff. May 20, 2014; 2015, No. 23, § 53.)


  • Subchapter 003: SEPARATE STATE PROGRAMS
  • § 1121. Authorization to segregate State funds and create separate State and solely State-funded programs

    (a) Consistent with the purposes of this chapter, the Commissioner shall structure payment of appropriated TANF funds, State "maintenance of effort" funds, and general funds to create separate State and solely State-funded programs to aid families eligible for the financial assistance. For purposes of this chapter:

    (1) "Separate State program" means a program in which State funds are used to fund the program, and these funds are counted toward the State's maintenance-of-effort requirement under TANF.

    (2) "Solely State-funded program" means a program in which State funds are used to fund the program and are not counted toward the State's maintenance-of-effort requirement in order to maintain flexibility.

    (b) The Commissioner shall establish by rule standards, requirements, and criteria for the administration of any program established pursuant to this section that requires rules different from the financial assistance program.

    (c) Programs and payment structures created pursuant to this section shall accomplish one or more of the following purposes:

    (1) to provide work supports and assistance to working families while preserving their ability to receive financial assistance beyond the federal TANF 60-month lifetime limit;

    (2) to foster parental nurturing of children in their own homes;

    (3) to stabilize families in crisis;

    (4) to preserve financial assistance options beyond the federal TANF 60-month lifetime limit for families addressing multiple issues relating to self-sufficiency;

    (5) to preserve eligibility for financial assistance for certain parents who are under 18 and legal aliens whom federal law makes ineligible for TANF-funded assistance; or

    (6) to ensure that the State complies with the federal TANF program requirements and is able to avoid federal fiscal sanctions.

    (d)(1) The following solely State-funded programs shall be established, in accordance with rules adopted by the Commissioner:

    (A) the Postsecondary Education Program established under section 1122 of this title;

    (B) a program for families with a single parent, a caretaker, or two parents with one parent who is able-to-work-part-time or unable-to-work that have a primary caretaker of a child under 24 months of age who chooses pursuant to subsection 1114(b) of this title to defer the work requirement and to remain at home caring for the child, provided that the deferment is limited to any 24 months over the primary caretaker's lifetime, and the elimination of such work requirement is not a State option under TANF; and

    (C) a program for the following vulnerable families:

    (i) a minor parent who is not meeting the TANF requirements; and

    (ii) families who have received TANF-funded assistance for over 60 months and do not qualify for the hardship exemption as provided for by rule.

    (2) Solely State-funded programs may be established, in accordance with rules adopted by the Commissioner, for the following individuals:

    (A) families in which the parents or caretakers are ineligible immigrants, who are considered work-eligible under federal law but are unable to meet the number of hours in work activities required for the family to be counted as meeting the work requirement under federal law;

    (B) adults who have been in sanction for more than three months;

    (C) families in which the parents have disabilities;

    (D) families in which one or more child has a disability and in which a family member is considered a work-eligible individual;

    (E) families in which the parents or caretakers have an application pending for Supplemental Security Income; and

    (F) two-parent households who are unable to meet the number of hours in work activities required for the family to be counted as meeting the work requirement under federal law, unless the federal law allows the State to exclude these families from the work participation rate or provides for an achievable work participation rate as determined by the Commissioner.

    (e) The Reach Ahead program shall be a separate State program structured to pay appropriated State maintenance of effort funds to families in which the parent or caretaker is engaged in employment for the number of hours that meets the applicable TANF participation rate requirement.

    (f) The Commissioner may establish other separate State and solely State-funded programs necessary to meet the goals established in this chapter.

    (g)(1) Any family receiving or applying for Reach Up financial assistance who is being referred by the Department to apply for or who is applying for Supplemental Security Insurance (SSI) or aid to the aged, blind, or disabled (AABD) under chapter 13 of this title shall authorize the Department to reimburse the State for the amounts described in subdivision (2) of this subsection from any initial SSI payment owed the individual that includes SSI payment for retroactive amounts. The family shall authorize the Social Security Administration to send the initial SSI payment directly to the Department. The Department may require an individual to sign a recovery of financial assistance agreement as authorization.

    (2) The Department may deduct an amount equal to the State-funded Reach Up financial assistance paid to the family for the needs of the SSI applicant during the period or periods in which the family received Reach Up financial assistance paid for with State funds. The deduction shall be for no more than the prorated portion of Reach Up financial assistance provided for those family members receiving SSI who are included in the SSI grant. The Department shall send any remainder due to the family within 10 days of receiving the payment from the Social Security Administration.

    (h) In furtherance of the policy goals of this section and in order to establish an excess of maintenance-of-effort State funds, the Commissioner shall maximize maintenance-of-effort State funds in the reports to the U.S. Administration for Children and Families. (Added 1999, No. 147 (Adj. Sess.), § 1, eff. July 1, 2001; amended 2007, No. 30, § 14, eff. May 17, 2007; 2009, No. 67 (Adj. Sess.), § 91, eff. Feb. 25, 2010; 2011, No. 63, § E.323.)

  • § 1122. Postsecondary Education Program

    (a) The Commissioner shall establish by rule a solely State-funded program to provide financial assistance equivalent to the Reach Up financial assistance amount the family would receive if it were participating in the Reach Up program and support services to enable parents in eligible families to pursue undergraduate postsecondary degrees in fields directly related to employment.

    (b) The Program authorized by this section shall be administered by the Commissioner or by a contractor designated by the Commissioner. The Program shall be supported with funds other than federal TANF block grant funds provided under Title IV-A of the Social Security Act, except that the Commissioner may fund financial assistance grants and support services of families participating in the Postsecondary Education Program with TANF block grant or State maintenance of effort funds when the participating adult's educational activities are a countable work activity under federal law and when it will further one or more of the purposes in subdivision 1121(c)(1) of this title.

    (c) Financial eligibility for the Program and the amount of financial assistance shall be determined using Reach Up financial assistance rules. The Commissioner may use Reach Up rules for the Postsecondary Education Program with the exception of rules inconsistent with this section or related to the work requirements.

    (d) To be financially eligible to participate in the Postsecondary Education Program, the family's gross income minus the participating parent's earnings shall not exceed 150 percent of the federal poverty level for the appropriate family size.

    (e) All financially eligible families who apply to participate in the Postsecondary Education Program will be considered for admission provided that they meet all of the following criteria:

    (1) No more than one parent per family may participate at the same time.

    (2) If the participating parent is in a two-parent family, the nonparticipating parent shall, if able-to-work, be working full-time; if able-to-work-part-time, shall be working at least the number of hours per week that he or she has been determined able-to-work-part-time; or, if unable-to-work, may be unemployed.

    (3)(A) The participating parent has not already received a postsecondary undergraduate degree.

    (B) The participating parent has already received a postsecondary undergraduate degree and the occupations for which it prepared the participating parent are obsolete.

    (C) The participating parent, due to a disability, is no longer able to perform the occupations for which the degree prepared him or her.

    (D) The preparation for occupations that the participating parent received through the postsecondary undergraduate degree is outdated and not marketable in the current labor market.

    (4) The participating parent shall be a matriculating student in a two-year or four-year degree program as provided for in the postsecondary education plan.

    (5) The participating parent has been determined to be eligible for financial assistance from the Vermont Student Assistance Corporation, and can demonstrate that he or she has the ability to cover tuition costs.

    (6) The participating parent agrees to limit employment to no more than 20 hours per week when school is in session. The Department may establish exceptions by rule to allow the participating parent to work more than 20 hours per week.

    (7) The family and the participating adult maintain financial eligibility for the program and uninterrupted residency in Vermont for the duration of participation in the Postsecondary Education Program.

    (8) The participating parent maintains good academic standing at the college.

    (f) Participation in the Program authorized by this section may be denied to parents meeting the eligibility criteria if Program funds are insufficient to allow all eligible applicants to participate. When funds are insufficient to allow all eligible applicants to participate, priority shall be given to those individuals who:

    (1) have demonstrated the ability to be successful in college, have already accumulated credits that can be applied to a college degree, and qualify for financial assistance;

    (2) have no postsecondary education and qualify for financial assistance;

    (3) have demonstrated the ability to be successful in college, have already accumulated credits that can be applied to a college degree, and qualify for services but not financial assistance;

    (4) have no postsecondary education and qualify for services but not financial assistance.

    (g) Continued participation in the Postsecondary Education Program is contingent on the participating parent:

    (1) maintaining compliance with all program criteria in subsections (d) and (e) of this section; and

    (2) remaining a member in good standing of the college and making progress toward a degree.

    (h) For the purposes of this section:

    (1) "Full-time" means 40 hours per week or a position requiring no fewer than 35 hours of work per week that the employer defines as full-time.

    (2) "Parent" means a biological parent, stepparent, or adoptive parent who has custody of and resides with a dependent minor child.

    (i) The Department shall offer written and verbal information pertaining to postsecondary education to an appropriate Reach Up participant based on the participant's assessment. (Added 1999, No. 147 (Adj. Sess.), § 1, eff. July 1, 2001; amended 2007, No. 30, § 15, eff. May 17, 2007; 2009, No. 156 (Adj. Sess.), § E.323.3; 2013, No. 50, § E.323.5.)

  • § 1123. Vermont Matched Savings Program

    (a) As used in this section:

    (1) "Account" means a savings account that is held in an insured financial institution that is maintained by the saver as part of an approved account program and an approved savings plan.

    (2) "Agency" means the Agency of Human Services.

    (3) "Approved account program" means a program approved by the Agency and administered by a service provider.

    (4) "Approved savings plan" means a plan, approved by the service provider and agreed to by the saver, that defines savings goals, program requirements, and anticipated uses of the savings and matching funds. The plan shall be a contract between the saver and the service provider. The plan shall limit the maximum amount of savings that is the basis for receipt of matching funds to no more than $500.00 per saver per calendar year and $1,000.00 per family per calendar year, and to no more than $2,000.00 per lifetime of the saver and $4,000.00 per lifetime of members of a family.

    (5) "Education" means a postsecondary program of instruction approved by the service provider and provided by a college, university, community college, area vocational technical school, professional institution, or specialized college or school legally authorized to grant degrees. The term also means any job training or related educational program approved by the service provider.

    (6) "Eligible uses" means education, training that leads to employment, the purchase or improvement of a home, the purchase or repair of a vehicle necessary to participate in an employment-related activity, or participation in or development of an entrepreneurial activity.

    (7) "Entrepreneurial activity" means the purchase of or investment in a for-profit venture in which the saver will be a principal.

    (8) "Financial institution" means any insured federal or State chartered bank, bank and trust company, savings bank, savings and loan association, trust company, or credit union, approved by the service provider for the establishment of an individual development savings account.

    (9) "Fund" means the Vermont Matched Savings Grant Special Fund established by this section.

    (10) "Minimum savings amount" means the minimum amount of the saver's earnings established in the approved savings plan that the saver must deposit in order to be eligible for matching funds.

    (11) "Program" means the Vermont Matched Savings Program established by this section.

    (12) "Public assistance" means financial assistance provided by the Reach Up program or a separate State program established under the authority of section 1121 of this title.

    (13) "Saver" means an individual who is 18 years of age or older, or who is under 18 years of age if the account is held in the name of a parent or caretaker of the saver, or a family group:

    (A) who resides in this State;

    (B) who has applied for and been enrolled in the individual development savings program;

    (C) whose household income at the time of application is within the applicable financial eligible standards:

    (i) to receive public assistance;

    (ii) to claim the federal earned income credit, without regard to any age limitation; or

    (iii) to participate in a federal savings program administered pursuant to this section; and

    (D) whose net worth as of the calendar year preceding the determination of eligibility does not exceed $10,000.00, excluding the primary dwelling unit, one motor vehicle owned by members of the saver's family in a one-parent family or two motor vehicles owned by members of the saver's family in a two-parent family, and the tools of saver's trade that do not exceed $10,000.00 in value and that are necessary to continue or seek employment.

    (14) "Service provider" means a nonprofit organization approved by the Agency that encourages and assists local community-based human service development, and that is an organization described in Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of the United States which is exempt from taxation under Section 501(a) of such Code.

    (b) The Agency shall establish by rule standards and procedures to implement and administer the Vermont Matched Savings Program. The Program may include a program with eligibility criteria that satisfy federal funding requirements or the requirements of other funding sources that are more restrictive than those established in subsection (a) of this section, and a program funded by State appropriations and other revenue. Such standards and procedures shall include the following:

    (1) An applicant shall apply to a service provider for a determination of eligibility for enrollment in the Program. The service provider shall develop an approved savings plan with each saver who has been determined eligible and enrolled in the Program. The approved savings plan shall specify a minimum savings amount to be saved and the frequency of deposits to be made by the saver to the savings account during the duration of the plan. The application and plan shall be prepared on forms provided and approved by the service provider.

    (2) The enrolled saver shall complete a financial management training program approved by the Agency and provided by or through the service provider.

    (3) An enrolled saver shall open an account in a financial institution that has been approved by the service provider as a depository for the saver's contributions. The saver and the service provider shall jointly own the account, including interest earned, jointly, with the saver as primary owner.

    (4) An enrolled saver with an approved plan and account monitored by a service provider shall comply with the requirements of the plan for at least one year, but no more than five years, in order to be eligible for matching fund grants.

    (5) In order to obtain matching funds, the saver shall present evidence satisfactory to the service provider that the amount to be withdrawn will be expended only for an eligible use. A withdrawal from an account for an eligible use shall be made payable to the person who provides the eligible use. The Agency, or the Vermont Student Assistance Corporation pursuant to 16 V.S.A. § 2878a, shall pay matching funds to the person that provides the eligible use. Matching funds shall not be paid to the saver.

    (6) The service provider may terminate an approved savings plan for a saver who fails to meet the savings goals set out in the approved plan or who withdraws from the Program, in accordance with standards and procedures established by rule by the Agency. Any funds contributed by the saver shall revert to the sole ownership of the saver, to be used by the saver for any purpose. Funds in accounts created pursuant to a Vermont Higher Education Savings Plan shall be subject to the provisions of the Plan's participation agreement.

    (7) The Agency shall monitor Program participation, and shall limit additional Program participation when the funds appropriated to carry out the purposes of this section are not sufficient to support additional approved savings plans.

    (8) The Agency shall establish by rule any other standards and procedures necessary or desirable to implement the Vermont Matched Savings Program, including minimum requirements for approval of savings plans, criteria for training and counseling, reporting requirements for participating financial institutions, and matching fund allocation standards.

    (c)(1) The Vermont Matched Savings Grant Special Fund is established in the State Treasury and shall be administered in accordance with the provisions of 32 V.S.A. chapter 7, subchapter 5, except that interest earned on the Fund shall be retained in the Fund. Into the Fund shall be deposited proceeds from grants, donations, contributions, appropriations, and other revenue authorized by law. The Fund shall be used only for the purpose of providing matching funds for the Vermont Matched Savings Program as established in this section, and to provide grants to service providers for administrative expenses of administering the Program.

    (2) The Agency may make grants from the Vermont Matched Savings Grant Special Fund to service providers to provide the match for approved savings plans with enrolled savers. The amount and number of grants shall be calculated quarterly by the Agency based on the number of savers and the amounts included in their approved plans administered by each service provider so that payment of the maximum match is ensured for all savers for the period for the approved savings plans without exceeding the balance in the Fund. The Agency may award grants from the Fund to service providers to cover their expenses of training and counseling savers and to implement and administer the Vermont Matched Savings Program. The Agency may approve the use of interest earnings on grant funds as a portion of approved administrative costs.

    (3) The Agency and service providers, separately or cooperatively, may solicit grants and private contributions for the Vermont Matched Savings Grant Special Fund.

    (d) Notwithstanding the provisions of subsections (a), (b), and (c) of this section to the contrary:

    (1) a saver may open an account under this section as a Vermont Higher Education Savings Plan Account under 16 V.S.A. chapter 87, subchapter 7;

    (2) the duration of the saver's ownership of a Vermont Higher Education Savings Plan Account shall not be subject to any limitation of time, except as provided in 16 V.S.A. chapter 87, subchapter 7; and

    (3) the saver's ownership of a Vermont Higher Education Savings Plan Account shall not be included in the saver's income or resources for purposes of the saver's eligibility for TANF or SSI funds or services. (Added 1999, No. 147 (Adj. Sess.), § 1, eff. July 1, 2001; amended 2001, No. 11, § 59, eff. April 25, 2001; 2018, No. 11 (Sp. Sess.), § E.325.1; 2019, No. 154 (Adj. Sess.), § E.323.1, eff. Oct. 2, 2020.)


  • Subchapter 004: ADMINISTRATIVE PROVISIONS
  • § 1131. Administrative improvements

    For the purpose of improving the family development programs administered by the departments within the Agency of Human Services, including the Reach Up program, the Secretary shall:

    (1) design and implement a quality assurance function for the case management component of the Reach Up program to ensure that appropriate services are being provided to families enrolled in the program;

    (2) continue to improve caseload and expenditure forecasting for all social welfare programs; and

    (3) develop standards and procedures for the training, including diversity education, of qualified case managers in the Reach Up program. (Added 1999, No. 147 (Adj. Sess.), § 1, eff. July 1, 2001.)

  • § 1132. Notice and appeal

    (a) A participant may appeal the provisions of a family development plan in accordance with 3 V.S.A. § 3091. The Commissioner shall provide notice to each participant of the standards and procedures applicable to such appeals. All federal and Agency of Human Services rules regarding conciliation, notice, hearing, and appeal shall be followed in connection with such appeals.

    (b) A participant shall receive notice and an opportunity for conciliation, hearing, and appeal in accordance with all applicable federal and Agency of Human Services rules before Reach Up sanctions are applied to the participant.

    (c) A participant shall continue to receive financial assistance payments pending appeal to the Human Services Board of Reach Up sanctions if the appeal is received prior to the effective date of the proposed sanctions. (Added 1999, No. 147 (Adj. Sess.), § 1, eff. July 1, 2001.)

  • § 1133. Transition to other programs

    (a) The Department shall transfer the family to Reach Up, a separate State program, or a solely State-funded program established under chapter 11 of this title if, after four months of receiving support in Reach First or sooner at the Department's discretion, a family is assessed as needing ongoing financial assistance and the family is financially eligible for Reach Up, a separate State program, or a solely State-funded program established under chapter 11 of this title, unless the family chooses not to participate.

    (b) If a family finds employment meeting or exceeding the work requirements for Reach Up for the family's size and composition, but is financially eligible for Reach Up, the Department shall transfer the family to Reach Up, unless the family chooses not to participate. A family transferring from Reach First to Reach Up shall be treated as a recipient for the purposes of income calculation.

    (c) If a family finds employment meeting or exceeding the work requirements for Reach Up for the family's size and composition, is not financially eligible for Reach Up, and is eligible for the Reach Ahead program, the Department shall transfer the family to Reach Ahead, unless the family chooses not to participate. A family transferring from Reach Up to Reach Ahead shall be treated as a recipient for the purposes of income calculation.

    (d) A family transferring to another program under subsections (a) through (c) of this section shall not be required to complete a new application. Verification of income or other required documentation may be required as provided for by rule. (Added 1999, No. 147 (Adj. Sess.), § 1, eff. November 1, 2000; amended 2007, No. 30, § 16, eff. May 17, 2007; 2009, No. 67 (Adj. Sess.), § 94, eff. Feb. 25, 2010; 2013, No. 131 (Adj. Sess.), § 29, eff. May 20, 2014.)

  • § 1134. Program evaluation

    On or before January 31 of each year, the Commissioner shall design and implement procedures to evaluate, measure, and report to the Governor and the General Assembly the Department's progress in achieving the goals of the programs provided for in sections 1002, 1102, and 1202 of this title. The report shall include:

    (1) the types of barriers facing Reach Up families seeking economic self-sufficiency, the number of families with each type of barrier, the frequency of occurrence of each type of barrier, and how support services and incentives assist in overcoming barriers;

    (2) documentation of participant results, including specific information relating to the number of persons employed, by occupation, industry, and wage; the types of subsidized and unsubsidized jobs secured by participants; any available information about results for children who have participated in the programs, including objective measures of improved conditions; the number of participating families involved in training programs; and whether the support services and incentives assist in keeping families employed;

    (3) data about the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program participation of households who have left the programs during the last fiscal year, including the number of households, adults, and children participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program three months after leaving the applicable program, broken down by reason for termination or leaving, and the Department's plan to identify and assist eligible households to apply for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits;

    (4) data about the enrollment of individuals who have left the programs during the last fiscal year in a Health Care Assistance Program, including the number of adults and children enrolled in a Health Care Assistance Program three months after leaving the applicable program, broken down by reason for termination or leaving, and the Department's plan to identify and assist eligible households to apply for health care assistance;

    (5) a summary of all interim and final reports submitted by independent evaluation contractors to the Agency or the Department relating to the programs;

    (6) a description of the work participation rates, including the method of calculating the caseload reduction credit, for the most recent federal fiscal year;

    (7) a description of the current basic needs budget and housing allowance, the current maximum grant amounts, and the basic needs budget and housing allowance adjusted to reflect an annual cost-of-living increase;

    (8) a description of the families, during the last fiscal year, that included an adult family member receiving financial assistance for 60 or more months in his or her lifetime, including:

    (A) the number of families and the types of barriers facing these families; and

    (B) the number of families that became ineligible for the Reach Up program pursuant to subsection 1108(a) of this title, and the types of income and financial assistance received by those families that did not return to the Reach Up program within 90 days of becoming ineligible; and

    (9) a description of the families in the postsecondary education program pursuant to section 1122 of this title, including the number of participating families and any barriers to their further participation. (Added 1999, No. 147 (Adj. Sess.), § 1, eff. July 1, 2001; amended 2003, No. 19, § 22, eff. May 6, 2003; 2005, No. 103 (Adj. Sess.), § 3, eff. April 5, 2006; 2005, No. 174 (Adj. Sess.), § 84; 2007, No. 30, § 17, eff. May 17, 2007; 2013, No. 131 (Adj. Sess.), § 30, eff. May 20, 2014; 2015, No. 11, § 35; 2015, No. 58, § E.323.1; 2015, No. 172 (Adj. Sess.), § E.323.1.)