Reach Up Budget Exercise


This chart illustrates a real world family budget for a single parent with two young children on the Reach Up program.

The first column lists costs that the Joint Fiscal Office used to calculate the 2019 livable wage. We’ve removed things like life insurance, rental insurance, and savings, which would be out of the question for a person eligible for Reach Up. We’ve also pulled child care, dental and health care expenses from the calculation, as we are assuming that any of these expenses would be limited to what is covered by Medicaid and the Child Care Financial Assistance Program. That leaves us with a barebones budget for a single parent with two children who is either on a work deferral or meeting the 20 hour per week work requirement with unpaid community service or job training, and therefore without any additional income.

The second column presents the maximum state benefits the family will receive from 3SquaresVermont, Renter’s Rebate, Fuel Assistance, and the Lifeline Telecommunications Program. The third column lists the expenses that remain for the family to navigate with their $640 Reach Up grant. If the household contains an adult who receives SSI income, the Reach Up benefit falls to $525.

To access this spreadsheet with active formulas, click HERE.

How will you stretch your $640 to cover almost $2,000 of expenses?

Families on the program spend much of their scarce time and energy piecing together other resources - visiting food shelves, diaper banks, and thrift shops. Without adequate housing support, families may be forced into unsafe living situations, such as returning to abusive partners.

Reach Up hasn’t had a raise since 2004. Children living in extreme poverty need the legislature to act NOW.