Date: September 2, 2020
Contact: Jon Ebelt, Public Information Officer, DPHHS, (406) 444-0936, (406) 461-3757
                Chuck Council, Communications Specialist, DPHHS, (406) 444-4391, (406) 461-8367

DPHHS, Reach Higher Montana to Join Forces for Red Scarf Project

Record number of Education and Training Vouchers provided in 2019

The Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) and Reach Higher Montana are partnering on the annual Red Scarf Project to support Montana’s youth in foster care in their efforts to attain postsecondary education.

This fall, Reach Higher Montana will be working with the Montana Chafee Foster Care Independence Program of DPHHS to collect and deliver homemade red scarves to include in care packages for youth in foster care during the holiday season.

DPHHS Director Sheila Hogan said the project ensures that Montana’s youth in foster care receive a homemade gift during the holiday season, but it’s more than just about a care package. “This is about supporting and empowering youth to reach their highest potential and to have successful futures,” Hogan said. “We want to do all we can to support foster youth as they chase their dreams in pursuit of their education goals.”

The scarves will be included in care packages along with other personal care items for all Montana youth currently or previously in foster care who are now pursuing their postsecondary education and receiving Educational Training Voucher (ETV) funds.

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 related to postsecondary education. The ETV program recently made the grants more accessible to participants by raising the age limit for eligibility from 23-26 years old. In 2019, sixty-three students received ETVs, a record number since the program started in 2002.

 “We are so proud of Montana’s youth,” said Rhonda Safford of Reach Higher Montana. “We want to do all we can to support them, and that’s what this program is all about.”

Those interested in participating are encouraged to send homemade red scarves no later than Oct 23, 2020 to Reach Higher Montana’s address listed below.

The scarves should be roughly sixty inches long and between five and eight inches wide. They should be gender neutral and tie with ease. The scarves may include other colors, but should be primarily red. It is also encouraged to include a special note or tag, for example “Made with Care for You”, or something similar.

If you have any questions or would like more information, please contact Tessa Littlefield, Programs Coordinator at Reach Higher Montana at 406-422-1275 ext. 802. The Reach Higher Address is 40 W 6th Ave, Helena, MT 59601.

About the Montana Chafee Foster Care Independent 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 leave the foster care system. The services offered by the MCFCIP are intended to help Montana foster youth get 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 http://dphhs.mt.gov/CFSD/FosterCareIndependence.aspx

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 www.ReachHigherMontana.org.