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Jennifer Garner Nearly Breaks Down in Tears While Testifying in Washington, D.C. About Child Poverty

Jennifer Garner got emotional while testifying about child poverty on behalf of Save the Children in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, March 16. See what she had to say in the video above.

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The 44-year-old actress — a trustee and ambassador for Save the Children since 2014 — nearly broke down in tears while explaining the importance of early childhood education programs at a hearing for the House Appropriations Labor, Health and Human Services and Education Subcommittee.

“I make a point to try and get out and do as many site visits as possible. Mothers come up to me and say, ‘Can you help get my child into these programs? Can you just nudge us up in the wait list? Is there anything you could do?’ The thought that I would have to go back to these mothers and say, ‘Well, no, there is nothing I can do …’” she said.

“These families know what it is to have this intervention and they know what they’re losing when it’s gone, and I’ll have to answer to it,” she added with a smile, holding back tears. “So that is what matters to me, selfishly, sir.”

Related: Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner: The Way They Were

Garner then touched on the damaging effects of childhood neglect. “It’s easy to escape responsibility for disgrace like that by blaming the parents,” she said. “’Who doesn’t talk to a child? Who doesn’t sing to their child?’ I’ll tell you who: parents who have lived their whole lives with the stresses that come with food scarcity, with lack of adequate shelter, with drug addiction and abuse. Parents who were left on the floor when they were children, ignored by their parents, who had to choose, as one out of three mothers in this country do, between providing food or a clean diaper for their children. Poverty dulls the senses, it saps hope, it destroys the will.”

After calling for a “significant investment in high-quality childhood education, proven effective programs like Early Head Start, child-care development block grants, preschool development grants and home visitation models such as Save the Children’s Early Steps to School Success,” Garner reiterated why she has chosen to be an advocate for impoverished families.

“These children don’t vote, they don’t make political contributions; neither do their parents,” she stated. “Somebody has to tell their story above all the noise. Poverty is silent, but I can’t be.”

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The Miracles From Heaven star’s testimony comes just days after her estranged husband, Ben Affleck — with whom she shares kids Violet, 11, Seraphina, 8, and Samuel, 5 — revealed that he had quietly completed rehab for an addiction to alcohol.

“I have completed treatment for alcohol addiction; something I’ve dealt with in the past and will continue to confront. I want to live life to the fullest and be the best father I can be,” the actor, 44, told his fans via Facebook on March 14. “I want my kids to know there is no shame in getting help when you need it, and to be a source of strength for anyone out there who needs help but is afraid to take the first step. I’m lucky to have the love of my family and friends, including my co-parent, Jen, who has supported me and cared for our kids as I’ve done the work I set out to do. This was the first of many steps being taken towards a positive recovery.”

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