(CNN) - Actress Jennifer Garner tested the power of celebrity activism on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, helping Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa and Education Secretary Arne Duncan make a pitch for a bill that would expand access to early education programs.
Garner joined Harkin, Duncan and Reps. George Miller, D-California, and Richard Hanna, R-New York, in the Senate visitor’s center in her capacity as an ambassador for Save the Children, a major advocate for expanding early education.
“The playing field for kids in America is not equal,” Garner said Wednesday on CNN’s “New Day.”
The star of the “Alias” TV show worried about the 16 million children growing up in poverty in the United States.
“Without starting from the very beginning and getting an earlier start on their education, they have very little chance of catching up if they start as far behind as they’re starting in kindergarten,” she told CNN’s Chris Cuomo.
Garner has become a prominent activist, including pushing for a law passed in California that seeks to shield celebrity children from paparazzi.
Formally titled the Strong Start for America’s Children Act, the bill has so far only Democratic cosponsors in the Senate but Hanna’s introduction of the House version aims to give it bipartisan credibility.
“The proposed bill closely mirrors President Obama's Preschool for All proposal he announced during the State of the Union address,” according to a statement from Duncan’s office.
According to Harkin’s office, the bill would create a 10-year initiative to expand early education opportunities, funding preschool for 4 year olds whose families earn 200% below the federal poverty level.
The bill would also encourage states to expand their own early learning programs and authorizes a new Early Head Start partnership aimed at improving infant and toddler quality of care.