The Vermont Statutes Online
The Vermont Statutes Online have been updated to include the actions of the 2023 session of the General Assembly.
NOTE: The Vermont Statutes Online is an unofficial copy of the Vermont Statutes Annotated that is provided as a convenience.
- Subchapter 001: Eligibility and Assistance
§ 1201. Definitions
As used in this chapter:
(1) “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.
(2) “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.
(3) “Caretaker” means an individual age 18 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.
(4) “Commissioner” means the Commissioner for Children and Families or his or her designee.
(5) “Department” means the Department for Children and Families.
(6) “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.
(7) “Eligible family” means a family that meets the requirements in section 1203 of this chapter.
(8) “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.
(9) “Food assistance” means a monthly benefit to supplement the family’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits as determined under section 1204 of this chapter.
(10) “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 at his or her or their home.
(11) “Parent” means a biological parent, stepparent, adoptive parent, or pregnant individual.
(12) “Participant” or “participating adult” means an adult member of a participating family.
(13) “Participating family” means an eligible family that participates in the Reach Ahead program.
(14) “Reach Ahead services” means the service component of the Reach Ahead program consisting of case management services, support services, and referrals provided to eligible families to assist them in maintaining self-sufficiency.
(15) “Reach First” means the program established under chapter 10 of this title.
(16) “Reach Up” means the program established under chapter 11 of this title.
(17) “Relative” means a person related to a dependent child, as defined by the Department by rule.
(18) “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. (Added 2007, No. 30, § 18, eff. Oct. 1, 2008; amended 2013, No. 131 (Adj. Sess.), § 31, eff. May 20, 2014; 2021, No. 20, § 287; 2021, No. 105 (Adj. Sess.), §§ 606, 607, eff. July 1, 2022.)
§ 1202. Purpose
(a) The purpose of the Reach Ahead program is:
(1) to assist families who have become recently employed to maintain employment by providing work supports and incentives to maximize the opportunity of the family to remain employed and not return to Reach Up;
(2) to provide families with information and referrals to workforce development options in order to ensure financial stability for the family;
(3) to support parental responsibility and positive parental role models, both custodial and noncustodial;
(4) to improve the well-being of children by providing time-limited work supports and food assistance to their families;
(5) to conserve State and public financial resources by operating the system of aid in a manner that is efficient and avoids federal fiscal sanctions; and
(6) to conform to the federal TANF law.
(b) The critical elements of developing a work support program that assists families to maintain self-sufficiency are:
(1) if necessary, individualized case management that addresses each individual’s situation and barriers to self-sufficiency and assists that family in maintaining employment;
(2) food assistance and support services of a limited duration to provide work support for the family;
(3) easy transition to other programs, such as Reach Up or Reach First, if needed to ensure the families’ well-being and success to reaching self-sufficiency. (Added 2007, No. 30, § 18, eff. Oct. 1, 2008.)
§ 1203. Eligibility
A family shall be eligible for Reach Ahead if the family resides in Vermont and:
(1) has left Reach Up or the postsecondary education program within the prior six months for employment that meets the federal work requirements for the TANF program for the family’s size and composition;
(2) is receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits and has employment that meets the work requirements for Reach Up for the family’s size and composition; or
(3) is an individual under 21, has a child, is ineligible for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits solely because the individual resides with the individual’s parent, and has employment that meets the work requirements for Reach Up for the family’s size and composition. (Added 2007, No. 30, § 18, eff. Oct. 1, 2008; amended 2007, No. 192 (Adj. Sess.), § 6.012; 2009, No. 67 (Adj. Sess.), § 90, eff. Feb. 25, 2010; 2013, No. 131 (Adj. Sess.), § 32, eff. May 20, 2014; 2023, No. 78, § E.323.5, eff. July 1, 2023.)
§ 1203a. Application of 21 U.S.C. § 862a
An individual domiciled in Vermont shall be exempt from the disqualification provided for in 21 U.S.C. § 862a. (Added 2009, No. 1 (Sp. Sess.), § E.323.2.)
§ 1204. Food assistance
(a)(1) An eligible family shall receive monthly food assistance equal to $50.00 to be applied to the family’s electronic benefit transfer (EBT) food account for the first 12 months after the family has become eligible for Reach Ahead.
(2) For the 12th through 24th months, the family shall receive a monthly food assistance of $5.00.
(b) Food assistance may be used only to purchase eligible food items as defined in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program federal rules and shall be disregarded as income for the purposes of determining Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program eligibility and the amount of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits.
(c) An eligible family shall not be required to assign child support to the Department, and all child support received by the family shall be disregarded as income.
(d) The 12th through 24th months of assistance shall be funded through savings resulting from caseload reductions in the Reach Up program. If there are insufficient savings from caseload reductions to fund the 12th through 24th months of assistance, the assistance shall be suspended or modified. (Added 2007, No. 30, § 18, eff. Oct. 1, 2008; amended 2013, No. 131 (Adj. Sess.), § 33, eff. May 20, 2014; 2013, No. 198 (Adj. Sess.), § 3, eff. July 1, 2015.)
§ 1205. Required services to participating families
(a) The Commissioner shall provide participating families Reach Ahead services, case management services if necessary, and referral to any agencies or programs, including workforce development, that provide the services needed by participating families to improve the family’s prospects for employment retention. Reach Ahead services shall be provided for 24 months.
(b) A participating family shall be eligible for an Enhanced Child Care Services Subsidy during its 12th through 24th months on the Reach Ahead program pursuant to subsection 3512(b) of this title. (Added 2007, No. 30, § 18, eff. Oct. 1, 2008; amended 2013, No. 198 (Adj. Sess.), § 6, eff. July 1, 2015.)
§ 1206. Case management; family development plans; coordinated services
The Commissioner may provide Reach Ahead services to participating families through a case management model. If a family needs case management, the Commissioner may develop a family development plan as provided for in chapters 10 and 11 of this title. If a case manager is assigned to the participating family who has been transferred from Reach First or Reach Up, if practicable, the case manager shall be the same case manager the family was assigned previously. (Added 2007, No. 30, § 18, eff. Oct. 1, 2008.)
- Subchapter 002: Administrative Provisions
§ 1211. Recertification
A family’s hours of employment and other countable work activities shall be verified every six months to determine continuing eligibility for the program. To the extent possible for families receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits, income verification may be done at the same time as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefit recertification or verification of employment hours. (Added 2007, No. 30, § 18, eff. Oct. 1, 2008; amended 2007, No. 192 (Adj. Sess.), § 6.013; 2013, No. 131 (Adj. Sess.), § 34, eff. May 20, 2014.)
§ 1212. Transition to other programs
If a family loses employment meeting or exceeding the work requirements for TANF for the family’s size and composition and is financially eligible for Reach Up, the family shall be transferred to Reach First or Reach Up without an additional application process, unless the family chooses not to participate. Verification of income or other documentation may be required as provided for by rule. (Added 2007, No. 30, § 18, eff. Oct. 1, 2008; amended 2009, No. 67 (Adj. Sess.), § 93, eff. Feb. 25, 2010; 2023, No. 78, § E.323.6, eff. July 1, 2023.)
§ 1213. Notice and appeal
A participant may appeal decisions 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. (Added 2007, No. 30, § 18, eff. Oct. 1, 2008.)