Presidential candidate John Edwards proposed a $2,500 tax credit for parents who take time off from work to care for a newborn, which he estimates would benefit about 3.5 million families each year.

The North Carolina senator also called for more federal funding of after-school programs in a speech prepared for Wednesday delivery and provided to The Associated Press.

Edwards, one of nine Democrats seeking the presidential nomination, said Bush has put special interests ahead of family needs.

He criticized Bush for focusing on tax cuts for the wealthy while failing to fund a Clinton-era program to put 100,000 police officers on the streets and cutting the budget for after school programs, teenage alcohol initiatives and college scholarships.

"Parents across America who work hard and give their all to their children shouldn't be made to feel like suckers because Washington is watching out for insiders," he said.

Edwards also called for expanding the Family and Medical Leave Act to include workers at small businesses and unpaid leave for parent-teacher conferences.

He proposed a doubling of federal support for respite care and adult day care, money for schools that require community service as a condition of graduation and increased funding for teen pregnancy prevention and job training for fathers who aren't paying child support.

An Edwards spokesman said his family agenda would cost $11 billion annually, with $5 billion going to the tax credit and $4.8 billion to after-school programs.

Edwards and his wife built the Wade Edwards Learning Lab, and after-school computer center, in memory of their son after he died in a 1996 car accident.