NorthCountry Federal Credit Union is working with Green Mountain United Way and the Washington County Youth Service Bureau to offer “indy” bank accounts to teens leaving foster care

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Barre, VT – Every day, Vermont teens who have spent time in foster care have to transition into the world – to a world of college, work and finding a place to live on their own . Without a family support structure, many of these teens, who are now “adults,” struggle to become financially stable because they lack access to the systems that most teens can access through their parents or of their traditional caregivers.

Green Mountain United Way (GMUW) has partnered with NorthCountry Federal Credit Union (NCFCU) and the Washington County Youth Services Bureau (YSB) to run a pilot savings account program for young people who participate in programs run by YSB. Accounts are flexible, meaning the appropriate account will be opened based on the young person’s individual needs. Once young people turn 18, they will meet with a banking representative to learn more about banking options, getting them the professional support they need to set them up for success in the next chapter of their lives.

The program was inspired by new GMUW Resource Coordinator, Blaire Haggett. At its first staff meeting, the NorthCountry Federal Credit Union introduced its Flexible Pathways checks – a way for people with weak or poor credit to get back into the banking world.

“I thought it was so innovative,” Haggett said. “What an amazing idea it was to help people get back on track. This made me wonder if they would be open to helping minors open bank accounts that don’t have a guardian to sign for them.

Haggett, who previously worked at a group home for teenage girls, says that for many years she “begged and begged” various banks to set up an account for the youngsters that did not require a guardian to sign.

Since teens coming out of foster care often needed a guardian’s signature to do basic banking, there was a huge hurdle for them to cash checks, save money, and save money. money, to keep the money safe and not to have to carry large sums of money when moved from placement to placement. Teens also need to learn how to navigate the banking system, and the partnership with NCFCU makes that possible.

“Over the past year, we have directed nearly all of our product innovation efforts toward improving access to financial services for marginalized populations,” said NorthCountry Federal Credit Union CEO Robert Morgan. . “We believe the new Independence accounts are the result of this effort. We can offer young people living in foster care or in a transitional living program the opportunity to learn and become financially independent. The Independence Account is a great example of how community groups can come together and work to create a solution to an unmet need. We would like to express our immense gratitude to our partners at Green Mountain United Way and the Washington County Youth Service Bureau for their assistance in bringing this new product to fruition.

This unique partnership allows GMUW and WCYSB to offer not only these immediate solutions, but also longer-term personal support through a bank and a case manager. This leads to other opportunities, such as financial coaching through Green Mountain United Way’s KEEP Financial Coaching, scholarship opportunities and more. For more information or to donate, visit gmunitedway.org or call 802.613.3989.

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