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As the country continues through the 2020 presidential election cycle, we at National Crittenton feel it is imperative to highlight the many ways in which girls and gender-expansive young people are impacted by the positions and policies many of the candidates build their campaigns on. That’s why we decided to issue a special series of the Centering Girls in Systems Change newsletter – a newsletter a week covering juvenile justice, gender-based violence, health and reproductive justice, education, child welfare and youth homelessness, and immigration.

When this project launched, there were 13 candidates in the race (11 Democrats and two Republicans). As their numbers have dwindled to 5 candidates (4 Democrats and one Republican, not including the President) running for office, we’ve taken a closer look at their stances and track records on issues that impact the health and livelihood of girls and gender-expansive young people across our country. Check out our previous editions on juvenile justicegender-based violenceeducation justicehealth care, and immigration.

This is our final installment of this series. We will release a PDF combining all the previous editions of the series in the coming weeks. We will return to our regular Centering Girls in Systems Change format next month.


In putting together this final installment of Centering Girls in the Race for the Presidency, we discovered a lack of published policy proposals related to child welfare, echoing the reality that Shanta Trivedi wrote about back in November for The Hill: while each of the candidates has some kind of plan to address family separation at the border, none of the presidential candidates have “a plan for the other form of family separation that also impacts hundreds of thousands of American families every day — foster care.” 

Due to this lack of information, we have divided this last installment into two sections related to family separation: yesterday’s edition focused on immigration, and this final edition covers the few elements of child welfare- and youth homelessness-related policies included in some of the candidates’ published plans. Because none of the remaining candidates have a given section dedicated to child welfare, we have pulled child welfare-related policy from some of their other policy plans (i.e. housing, education, LGBTQ+ equality, etc.)

Joe Biden, Former Vice President

Current Policies/Positions: Biden’s housing plan includes increasing funding and access to affordable housing, supporting the passage of the Ending Homelessness Act, investing $13 billion to tackle homelessness in five years–with a portion specifically earmarked for homeless children and young adults, increasing access to supportive housing, protecting the civil rights of LGBTQ individuals in housing and shelters, increasing funding for the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act, and ensuring LGBTQ individuals have access to transitional living programs. Biden’s plan for “educators, students, and our future” includes providing early childhood development support to families through their pediatrician’s office and doubling federal funding for home visiting programs.

Track Record: Biden’s track record includes sponsoring the National Child Protection Improvement ActPROTECT Our Children ActWilliam Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization ActNational Child Protection Act, and the Extending the Child Safety Pilot Program Act of 2005. Biden also co-sponsored the Hunger Free Communities Act, a bill to revise and extend the Boys and Girls Clubs of AmericaMissing Children’s Assistance ActDomestic Violence Prevention Act of 1990National AMBER Alert Network ActAct for Better Child Care Services of 1988Parental and Medical Leave Act of 1988, and the Dylan Lee James Act.

Tulsi Gabbard, Congresswoman from Hawai’i

Current Policies/Positions: Congresswoman Gabbard’s campaign site does not include any specific policy relating to child welfare, housing, or homelessness.

Track Record: Gabbard’s track record includes co-sponsoring the POWER ActNational Adoption and Foster Care Home Study ActEnding Homelessness Act of 2019Housing Infrastructure ActCommunity Economic Opportunity ActPROGRESS for Indian Tribes Act, and the Native American Housing Assistance and Self-Determination Reauthorization Act.

Bernie Sanders, Senator from Vermont

Current Policies/Positions: Sanders’ housing for all plan includes investing $1.48 trillion over 10 years in the National Affordable Housing Trust Fund, increasing funding for the Indian Housing Block Grant Program to $3 billion, fully funding tenant-based Section 8 rental assistance at $410 billion over the next 10 years, protecting tenants, prioritizing 25,000 National Affordable Housing Trust Fund units in the first year to house the homeless, providing $500 million in funding to states and localities to provide outreach to the homeless to help connect them to case management and social services, and passing the Equality Act to include LGBTQ+ Americans in the Fair Housing Act. His pre-k and childcare for all plan includes doubling funding for the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) Program, and passing the Universal School Meals Act. Sanders’ LGBTQ+ equality plan includes passing the Every Child Deserves a Family Act.

Track Record: Sanders’ track record includes sponsoring the Rights of the Child Act of 1997All Healthy Children Act of 2007, and the National Affordable Housing Trust Fund Act of 2003. Sanders also co-sponsored the Every Child Deserves a Family ActNewborn Screening Saves Lives Act, and the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act.

Bill Weld, Former Governor of Massachusetts

Current Policies/Positions: Weld’s campaign site does not include any specific policy relating to child welfare, housing, or homelessness.

Track Record: Weld’s track record includes signing into law “a measure establishing one of the most restrictive welfare systems in the nation, legislation that cuts benefits, stops payments after two years and requires many recipients to work or perform community service,” according to a New York Times article from 1995, and establishing a special commission on foster care in Massachusetts.

Elizabeth Warren, Senator from Massachusetts

Current Policies/Platforms: Warren’s housing plan includes passing the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act and prohibiting housing discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, veteran status, and the source of one’s income, like a housing voucher. Her universal child care plan includes free childcare for families that make less than 200% of the federal poverty line and capping rates for childcare at 7% of a family’s income. Warren’s tribal nations plan includes reauthorizing the Native American Housing Assistance and Self-Determination Act (NAHASDA), empowering tribes to address childhood trauma, passing the American Indian and Alaska Native Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act, protecting the Indian Child Welfare Act, and continuing the Obama administration’s Generation Indigenous initiative. Her securing LGBTQ+ rights plan includes passing the Do No Harm Act, making LGBTQ+ non-discrimination a condition of federal grants, banning discrimination against sexual orientation and gender identity in our adoption agencies and child welfare system, ensuring federal family programs like paid family leave cover chosen family members, fighting for programs that help LGBTQ+ youth once they become homeless, reauthorizing and fully funding the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act, repealing laws that criminalize homelessness, and reconvening the Obama-era Federal Interagency Working Group on Improving Measurement of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in Federal Surveys to continue to develop best practices around collecting data and ensuring that these methods are used in surveys across the federal government.

Track Record: Warren’s track record includes sponsoring the Universal Child Care and Early Learning Act, a bill amending the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act to require equitable inclusion of Indian tribes and tribal organizations, Public Housing Emergency Response Act, and the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act. Warren co-sponsored the Runaway and Homeless Youth and Trafficking Prevention ActStrengthening the Child Welfare Response to Human Trafficking ActStrong Families ActTimely Mental Health for Foster Youth ActPreparing and Resourcing Our Student Parents and Early Childhood Teachers ActEvery Child Deserves a Family ActSupporting Grandparents Raising Grandchildren ActFamily First Prevention Services Act, a bill to reauthorize the Family Violence Prevention and Services ActChild CARE ActAlyce Spotted Bear and Walter Soboleff Commission on Native Children Act, and the Native American Housing Assistance and Self-Determination Reauthorization Act.


Thanks for Tuning In

The issue areas highlighted in this series are particularly and uniquely important to the lives and opportunities afforded to girls and gender-expansive youth and were identified through an assessment of various advocate resources, news reports, and research. Information presented here on the candidates’ current positions was gathered from what they have committed to in writing on their respective websites–primarily focused on their published policy platforms rather than their interviews with the news media, social media posts, or debate responses. Information about candidates’ track records was compiled via the sources linked within this newsletter. Candidate’s platforms and records are listed in alphabetical order. This is by no means an exhaustive compilation of any candidates’ platform or track record, and we encourage folx to explore these issues further, as this is neither a full assessment nor an endorsement of any political party or candidate.

Please feel free to reach out to Natalia Orozco with any corrections, questions, or suggestions for improvement at

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