Oct. 7 (UPI) — Democratic presidential hopeful Kamala Harris unveiled Monday a “Children’s Agenda” that aims to cut child poverty by over 50 percent in four years.
Sen. Harris, D-Calif., said that as president she would prioritize the issue by signing an “executive order to end child poverty” and establishing a federal inter-agency group to coordinate federal action on the matter. She will increase investments in safety-net programs, including nutrition assistance, housing vouchers, the earned income tax credit and child tax credit.
She also plans to pass her proposed LIFT (Livable Incomes for Families Today) Act, for up to $6,000 a year or $500 a month refundable tax credit to low- and middle-income families to save for emergencies.
Additionally, she plans to pass her proposed legislation for rent relief, which would offer “a new, refundable tax credit for families spending more than 30 percent of their income on rent and utilities,” the plan states.
Harris said she would also “fight for workplace protections,” including raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour and guaranteeing workers nationwide up to six months of paid family and medical leave for a newborn baby or a serious illness in the family, along with paid sick days and “fair scheduling practices.”
“Unpredictable schedules are particularly harmful to more than 6 million low wage parents, making it more difficult to arrange for child care or know if there will be enough money to make ends meet,” Harris noted, referring to a National Partnership for Women and Families study on the matter.
The federal government’s portion of the paid leave program would be funded through fines on corporations that fail to close pay gaps and tax increases on the top 1 percent of big corporations, along with general revenues to cover benefits and administration, the agenda stated.
The paid family leave Harris is proposing is double the amount of time that Democrats Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y. and Rep. Rosa DeLauro, are calling for in the FAMILY Act, which hasn’t moved forward yet in Congress.
The “Children’s Agenda” also included other categories of reform such as physical and mental health, criminal justice reform and accountability.
In the health area, Harris proposed all schools nationwide have access to a nurse and social worker, and investments in mental health, trauma and stress screenings for all children, and climate protection and environmental justice laws to ensure a healthy environment.
For criminal justice reform, she proposed ending juvenile incarceration “except for the most serious crimes” and replacing it with “restorative justice programs,” and pushing for reform of immigration laws to keep families together, and investments to prevent human trafficking and sexual abuse.
For accountability, Harris would “create a Bureau of Children and Family Justice,” to ensure the agenda gets completed, her proposal stated.