Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand announced on Wednesday that, if elected, she would pass a “Family Bill of Rights” within the first 100 days of taking office, unveiling a plan aimed at strengthening families and children from birth to kindergarten.
Gillibrand’s campaign, looking to break out in a crowded Democratic field in which the New York senator has struggled to get momentum, will highlight the new plan throughout the coming days, with a concerted push on social media and at events. Gillibrand is also slated to write a Medium post about the plan, will make media appearances on it and the campaign has produced a video to tout the proposal.
The proposal is not Gillibrand’s first policy rollout of her campaign, but it is the first the senator has promised to tackle in her first 100 days should her presidential run be successful.
The plan rests on five pillars: Providing Americans with the necessary care during pregnancy, guaranteeing the right to have a child through In vitro fertilization regardless of income, providing affordable nursery care for newborns, guaranteed paid family leave, including to care for a new child, and affordable and universal pre-kindergarten.
Although Gillibrand’s campaign has not determined a cost for the plan, campaign aides said on Wednesday that they would pay for the proposal with a financial transactions tax, which they believe will raise $777 billion over 10 years.
“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.
Gillibrand said the plan aims to guarantee that all children start at an equal footing, regardless of gender, race or socioeconomic status and that she hopes to implement this plan as a way to make parenthood attainable for anyone who wants it.
“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,” she added.
Since announcing her campaign exploratory committee in January, Gillibrand has talked at length about protecting children and parenthood on the campaign trail, but this is her first proposal aimed at the issue. Gillibrand wrote the paid family leave plan at her law firm early in her career and often reflects on questions about education and children from a personal perspective as the mother of two sons.
“Trump has created a lot of anxiety in the world, and a lot of hate and division. And I think people are feeling that this is the moment they have to do whatever it takes,” Gillibrand said of her sons’ reactions to her running during an interview early in her campaign. “And even Henry, who is 10, feels, you know, ‘Mom, you may be the only one who can beat him. You should do this.’”
Gillibrand, according to the plan, will look to address a lack of access to OB-GYNs, especially in rural communities, by increasing grant funding to rural health providers and “providing states and hospitals with access to new resources to develop.”
To encourage adoption and give low income families struggling to conceive an option, Gillibrand’s plan would offer “refundable adoption tax credits to ensure that a family’s ability to adopt” and “require insurance companies to cover the cost of fertility treatments like IVF.”
In an effort to make the early days of parenting easier, even for families who are struggling financially, Gillibrand has proposed providing families – regardless of income – a box of parenting supplies after a child is born. The box, according to the plan, would include “diapers, swaddle blankets and onesies, all in a decorated box with a small mattress that can be repurposed as a nursery bed” and be provided through the Department of Health and Human Services.
Gillibrand’s plan will also “create a national paid family and medical leave insurance program.” And, in an effort to guarantee affordable pre-kindergarten services, the plan outlines how a Gillibrand administration would increase the Child and Dependent Care tax credit for expenses related to child care and help states create universal pre-k programs.
Gillibrand, to date, has rolled out two other policy proposals. The senator proposed a “Clean Elections” plan earlier this month that looked to boost political participation by democratizing political giving. And she announced her reproductive rights agenda during a recent trip to Georgia, where the state’s Republican governor recently signed a controversial abortion bill into law.