Hollywood actress and activist Jennifer Garner applauded the Obama administration on Capitol Hill for funding “innovative” early learning programs but said that more needs to be done.
“Last week, President Obama, such great news, he delivered on 500 million dollars for innovative early learning programs. I was proud to fight for this funding with Save the Children alongside our allies like the First Five Fund,” she said in a press conference at the Capitol with Senator Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) and Mark Shriver, the Vice President of Save the Children on Wednesday.
“It’s a fabulous accomplishment but it’s only a down payment. It’s still not enough to ensure that every toddler is prepared for a lifetime of success; that’s why all of this – the passage of this bill is so important.”
Senator Casey, a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, has introduced both the “Prepare All Kids Act” which would help states provide at least one year of early education to children and the “Starting Early, Starting Right Act” that would give states funds to increase access to child care for low-income families.
Sen. Casey used a Bible verse, Sirach 6:14, to describe his support for the legislation.
“There’s a great line in the scriptures about a faithful friend, it says – somewhere, I’m not sure where but it’s in the scriptures – that a faithful friend is a sturdy shelter and he who has found one has found a treasure and I think one of the questions we have to ask ourselves especially in the midst of a very tough budget, a debate about deficit and debt where we’ve cut the size – where we’ve cut spending in the federal government dramatically this year; we’re going to cut it some more,” he said at the conference.
“Will we be, those of us who have votes, those of us who have a position in a public office, will we be that faithful friend to children? We will be that sturdy shelter?”
To highlight the need for the federal government to invest in early childhood education programs, Garner, who is married to Hollywood actor Ben Affleck, told the audience about the experience she has had with her own children.
“You guys look young like maybe you don’t have preschool age kids. Well, I do, I have a child entering pre-school this fall and a child entering kindergarten and believe it or not, a huge part of why you all are successful and bright and cheerful, clean, pretty looking people is because you were able to sit in a circle when you got to kindergarten – that is kindergarten readiness,” said Garner, an Artist Ambassador for the organization Save the Children.
“It’s being able to get along with your peers, knowing what a rhyme is, my daughter, my 2 year old can spout mother goose from, you know, here to next week, that is, that comes from school.”