Jennifer Garner is speaking out.
The “Miracles From Heaven” star spoke in a hearing to the House Appropriations Labour, Health and Human Services and Education Subcommittee on behalf of Save the Children in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, on the importance of early childhood education on developing young minds.
“When many of these children [who grow up in poverty] enter kindergarten, they don’t know their letters and numbers. They don’t know how to sit in a circle or listen to a story, they don’t know how to hold a book. They may have never even seen a book,” the 44-year-old actress stated, as she gave an emotional breakdown of how lack of access to early education can lead to children being unprepared for grade school. “Poverty dulls the senses, it saps hope, it destroys the will.”
“Poverty is silent, I mean that quite literally,” Garner contended. “Somebody has to tell their story above all the noise. Poverty is silent, but I can’t be.”
As she tearfully spoke during the lengthy hearing, Garner called for investment in “high-quality childhood education, proven effective programs like Early Head Start, childcare development block grants, preschool development grants and home visitation models such as Save the Children’s Early Steps to School Success.”
“We can intervene in these children’s lives in time to make a difference,” the mother of three reasoned.
Additionally, the actress pulled from her own life to make her case, recalling how her mom’s access to learning, despite humble early conditions, helped her to give Garner and her sister better opportunities in their lives.
“My mom grew up one of 10 kids in dust bowl depression, Locust Grove, Oklahoma, and she’s the only one in her family to have gone on to college,” she shared. She had such a lively house that was the perfect environment for early childhood brain growth. They played jacks, they sang songs, they recited Bible verses, they all could recite poetry at the drop of a hat … that is kindergarten readiness.”
“She thrived and identified as a smart girl,” Garner continued. “And thank goodness she did, because it really changed my sister and I’s chances in the world.”
Garner even said that her own kids — 11-year-old Violet, 8-year-old Seraphina and 3-year-old Samuel — greatly benefited spiritually from the privilege they had of being able to attend pre-K programs.
“My children have gone to a wonderful preschool in Santa Monica, California, and they go to a wonderful Sunday school, Methodist church that my family attends nearby,” she explained. “Without the social, emotional component of preschool … Sunday school can’t have the same efficacy for you, and can’t have the same meaning.”
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