Actor and Save the Children’s U.S. Programs Artist Ambassador Jennifer Garner testified before the Senate Subcommittee on Children and Families today to advocate for deeper federal investments in early childhood education. Garner advocated for additional funding for Head Start and the Child Care and Development Block Grant, which would fund innovative early childhood education programs.
“The words a toddler hears, the music that makes them tap their feet and the games they play builds the foundation for the next two decades of their education,” said Garner. “Simply put, it should be a right for every single toddler to be enrolled in a high-quality, early education program.”
Children living in poverty often fall behind because they often don’t have the same opportunities to succeed as other children:
* Ninety percent of brain growth occurs between birth and age five, but the U.S. only designates 14 percent of public spending on education and child welfare on children under five.
* Four year olds from poor families are 18 months behind other four year olds developmentally.
* Half of all low-income fourth graders score below basic level in reading.
Save the Children provides early childhood education services to children living in some of the most impoverished parts of the U.S. Through the Early Steps to School Success program (ESSS), Save the Children staff visits children and families in their homes to equip them with the skills, tools and knowledge they need to successfully support their child’s growth.
Save the Children also offers literacy, physical activity and nutrition programs to children to support their healthy growth and development. All in all, the organization served more than 70,000 children this year, and Save the Children’s new results that Ms. Garner revealed today before the Senate prove the efficacy of the programs.
* Children in Save the Children’s literacy program improved their reading skills as much as if they attended an additional four months of school.
* The number of children reading at or above grade level nearly doubled after they participated in the program.
* Sixty-four percent of children showed significant improvement in their literacy scores.
* Children in Save the Children’s early education program scored right in line with the national average on key vocabulary tests, despite risk factors, and scored significantly higher than children in Early Head Start.
* More than 14,000 children received healthy snacks, like fruits and vegetables, and took part in regular exercise in Save the Children’s nutrition and physical activity program, putting them on a pathway to a healthier lifestyle.
“Save the Children’s programs are giving children the foundation they need to achieve success in school and in life,” said Mark Shriver, senior vice president for U.S. Programs at Save the Children.