Kirsten Gillibrand Unveils Bold Child-Care, Maternal Health & Paid Family Leave Plan

Photo: CJ GUNTHER/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand released an ambitious family-oriented proposal Wednesday, tackling a wide range of issues that include investments in maternal and child health, paid family leave, affordable child care, and universal pre-K. The plan, which the New York Democrat coined the "Family Bill of Rights," would take effect within the first 100 days of her term as president.
The goal is to eliminate the disparities in access to high-quality education, healthcare, and other resources that impact children's development and ability to succeed later in life. Gillibrand's campaign didn't offer details on the proposal's total cost, but said that it would be paid for through her financial transactions tax, which targets Wall Street. According to her team, the tax would raise $777 billion over the next decade.
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"My new proposal, the Family Bill of Rights, will make all families stronger — regardless of who you are or what your zip code is — with a fundamental set of rights that levels the playing field starting at birth," Gillibrand said in a statement provided to Refinery29. "Passing the Family Bill of Rights will be my priority in my first 100 days as president, and I believe it will transform American families and their ability to achieve the American Dream."
Gillibrand's proposal calls for solutions targeting "five rights": to "a safe and healthy pregnancy," to "have a child through affordable IVF or adoption," to "a safe and affordable nursery for newborns," to "personally care for your loved ones with paid leave," and to "affordable child care and universal pre-K."
Some of the solutions in Gillibrand's plan include: a program targeting the shortage of reproductive-health providers in rural areas and the development of best maternal health practices to prevent women's deaths during childbirth; the creation of tax credits for those who adopt children and requiring that health insurances cover fertility treatments such as IVF; the distribution of "baby bundles," emulating Finland's starter kits for new mothers that include diapers, blankets, and a small mattress for the baby; the implementation of paid family leave nationwide, similar to her FAMILY Act; expanding the CHIP program to cover every child; assisting states in creating universal pre-K; and expanding the child and dependent care tax credit so families can get up to a $6,000 refund.
Taken individually, Gillibrand's proposed solutions aren't new. However, when looked at in the aggregate, her Family Bill of Rights is the first comprehensive plan of its kind to acknowledge that in the U.S., parents face more burdens than in other industrialized countries when it comes to costs of child care, paid time off, and maternal health. It also presents a shift in framing of what we consider "economic issues" in political campaigns. By presenting her policy proposals under the same banner, Gillibrand is emphasizing that allowing for parenthood to become more affordable and pursuing equity for every child, regardless of their background, can make for an economically stronger nation.
“For too long, crucial issues that inform the wellbeing of whole families and communities  —  from paid leave to child care to maternal health care  —  have been dismissed as secondary issues or ‘women’s issues,’” Gillibrand wrote in a Medium post. “I’ve spent my career fighting for those issues as what they are: front-and-center determinants of our whole country’s economic security, opportunity, and success.”
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