Date: October 28 2022

Contact: Jon Ebelt, Public Information Officer, DPHHS, (406) 444-0936, (406) 461-3757,
                Steven Coop, Programs Manager, Reach Higher Montana, (406) 880-1145 

DPHHS, Reach Higher Montana to Send Care Packages to Foster Care Youth as Part of Red Scarf Project

As part of the Red Scarf Project, officials with the Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) and Reach Higher Montana over the next several months will mail more than 50 care packages to support Montana’s youth in foster care pursuing postsecondary education.

Reach Higher Montana and DPHHS staff spent time this week assembling care packages for Montana youth, currently or previously in foster care, who are now enrolled in the fall semester of a postsecondary program, and receiving Educational Training Voucher (ETV) funds.

In February 2023, students who are enrolled in only the spring semester will receive a Valentine’s Day package.

The care packages will include homemade red scarves with special notes from the donors, and personal care items including a cookbook, monthly bill planner, chewing gum, snacks, Emergen-C, socks, gloves, and a small frying pan.

DPHHS Director Charlie Brereton said the project is a way to brighten the students’ day and provide them with some essential items. “We want them to know how proud we are of them as they diligently work to pursue their educational goals,” Brereton said. “The Department stands ready to assist and support them however we can.”

The ETVs, administered by Reach Higher Montana, support Montana’s foster youth in their efforts to attain postsecondary education. Eligible students can receive up to $5,000 per year for up to five years to offset costs educational costs. The ETV program is available to participants up to age 26. In 2022, 43 Montana students received ETVs this fall, and it’s expected another 10 will receive them next spring. 

“The care packages are one way to show our continued support for Montana’s youth,” said Rhonda Safford of Reach Higher Montana. “Over the years we’ve heard back from previous recipients about how much it means to them to receive a package, and we’re excited to continue this tradition. We also really appreciate the support this program receives from Montanans through the donated scarves.”   

About the Montana Chafee Foster Care Independence Program

The Montana Chafee Foster Care Independence Program (MCFCIP) is a part of the DPHHS Child and Family Services Division. Youth in foster care face unique and difficult challenges as they turn eighteen and exit the foster care system. The services offered by the MCFCIP are intended to help Montana foster youth gain the life skills they need to make a successful transition into adulthood. By assisting youth in achieving self-sufficiency and attaining future goals, the MCFCIP enables youth in the foster care system to create a healthy lifestyle and a successful future. For more information, go to the DPHHS Foster Care Independence webpage.

About Reach Higher Montana and Education and Training Vouchers

The mission of Reach Higher Montana is to help students strategically pursue educational opportunities. Reach Higher Montana works closely with DPHHS to ensure that foster youth in Montana feel supported in their efforts to attain postsecondary education, by providing specific funding and programs to help those students reach their educational goals. Learn more at

Photo caption: Reacher Higher Montana staff assemble care packages in preparation for delivery. Those pictured from left are Rhonda Safford, Steven Coop, and Kelly Cresswell. 

Reach Higher Montana staff assemble care packages in preparation for delivery.