This Issue Update newsletter is part of a series that provides more information on each priority issue on the Alliance's 2024 Legislative Agenda. The Legislative Agenda is crafted annually in partnership with early childhood organizations that are advancing legislative policy solutions related to health, safety, food security, economic security, and early care and education. The priority issues were selected by the Alliance's 21 member Steering Committee.


Reach Up: Ending Child Poverty is Within Our Reach

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

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

UPDATE: As outlined in H.94 (Act 49) which passed last year, DCF is required to present to the Legislature by March 15 a report containing "an actionable, phased plan that estimates the amount needed to remove the ratable reduction in the Reach Up program." That report will be considered by the House Human Services Committee in the coming weeks. 

Meanwhile, unfortunately the Governor's Recommended FY25 Budget continues to apply the 49.6% ratable reduction to Reach Up, which would result in under-funding basic needs for families in Vermont by a total of $28.25 million. The House is currently considering that proposed budget, and advocacy is continuing to encourage the Legislature to increase the Reach Up benefit.

H. 93, a bill that would require the DCF to base the Reach Up benefit on current cost data and update it on a yearly basis, has not been taken up yet by the House Human Services Committee.


Data and Talking Points

  • 35% of children between the ages of 0 and 8 live below 200% of the federal poverty level (FPL), and 5% of children in VT live in extreme poverty. 

  • Children are 54% more likely than adults to live in poverty in the United States. 

  • On average, over 3700 children aged 9 and under were in households enrolled in Reach Up at one point in FFY22


Lead Organization

Voices for Vermont’s Children for the Vermont Reach Up Coalition



The Vermont Early Childhood Advocacy Alliance is a statewide coalition formed in 2000 of early childhood professionals, parents, organizations, businesses, and strategic partners committed to improving public policies that impact young children between birth and age eight in the areas of health, safety, food security, economic security, and early care and education.

The Alliance crafts an annual Legislative Agenda in partnership with early childhood organizations, provides year-round advocacy support, and facilitates meaningful interactions with policymakers at key times during the decision making process.


Alliance Monthly Equity Discussion – 2/26; Community Supported Agriculture Grant; VECF Grant Funding Applications and Information Sessions; Maine Children’s Alliance Hiring for Executive Director; Register for ECDL

Issue Update - Fair Share for Vermont

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The Vermont Early Childhood Advocacy Alliance is a program of the Vermont Community Loan Fund.

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