Vermont welfare modernization coming to fruition

As part of an on-going effort to modernize Vermont’s Department for Children and Families’ (DCF), Governor Jim Douglas last week announced the launch of an interactive website for assistance benefits. The website allows residents to access eligibility requirements, apply for benefits and even track the status of benefits like food stamps, fuel assistance, health insurance and phone assistance.

Through its Economic Service Division, DCF has been planning and deploying modernization efforts over the last two years. The new benefits website,, along with the newly deployed 1-800 number, marks the apex of DCF’s efforts in providing convenient access to 24/7 information about program status and eligibility, officials said.

In addition to the 1-800 number and, DCF also opened a new Benefits Service Center and Applications & Document Processing Center, located in Waterbury, VT. The center will process and convert paper benefits documents to electronic images, allowing the documents to be accessed by stakeholders across the state. Additionally, the DCF workforce has been realigned to assign cases based on specialty rather than geography. Some workers will determine eligibility for health care programs, while others will determine eligibility for financial assistance programs, according to information on DCF’s modernization website.

“This is a great example of how we can use new technologies and best practice to transform the way state government works and better serve Vermonters,” Gov. Douglas said while touring the new center. “DCF’s modernization efforts will not only provide Vermonters with easier, more convenient access to programs and services, they will also save the state an estimated $2 million a year in operating costs.”

The benefits tracking and online application functions are expected to come online by June, the Governor indicated.

“It is very exciting to see our efforts finally come to fruition,” DCF Commissioner Steve Dale added during the Waterbury event.