Our Family Fun Pack platform — a program of seven family welfare benefits that make parenthood easy and affordable for everyone — is getting some pick-up in the 2020 presidential election. This is a promising development and I have reason to believe more of the FFP benefits will be adopted as the election rolls on.
Free School Lunch
The FFP calls for universal free school meals for all students regardless of income. Bernie Sanders unveiled an education platform that included that proposal over the weekend:
Sanders also rolled out a plan to offer universal free meals to public school students. He called for free breakfast, lunch and snacks year-round and an incentive program to provide the food from local sources.
The FFP proposes that the federal government provide every new parent a box of essential baby items modeled off of the baby box program in Finland. Gillibrand revealed a Family Bill of Rights earlier this week that had the baby box in it:
The costs of raising and safely caring for a newborn can be daunting, and too many families simply can’t afford it. I will launch a new program to provide “baby bundles” for new parents so that all new families, regardless of income, can start off on the right foot with the supplies they need. These bundles will be filled with the most important items for a child’s first month at home, like diapers, swaddle blankets, and onesies, all in a box with a small mattress that can be repurposed as a nursery bed.
Finland has dramatically lowered its rates of infant mortality as a result of its baby bundle program. And here at home, Ohio, Alabama, New Jersey, and Texas all offer a version of the program for new families.
Free Healthcare for Kids
The FFP calls for free health care for all children. Gillibrand’s Family Bill of Rights does the same thing:
And I would ensure that every child has the right to health care, by making the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) universal. I would automatically enroll every child in CHIP at birth — with an option for opting out — and give them access to Medicaid’s Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnostic, and Treatment (EPSDT), a comprehensive benefit program that is the best health coverage available for children.
Of course anyone advocating for Medicare for All also necessarily favors free health care for children, but Gillibrand is the first to explicitly propose free health care for kids as a standalone concept as part of a family benefits package, following the 3P proposal.
Other Benefits Remain
The two major FFP benefits that are still completely untouched by the field or other elected officials are free public child care (with a home child care allowance option) and a genuine child allowance administered by the Social Security Administration that pays every family $300 per month for every kid they are taking care of. These are the most expensive benefits in the bundle and also arguably the two most important ones. I have hope that these ideas will get a home in the next few months.