U.S. Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania introduced a bill Thursday to help more low-income children learn and develop. The “Supporting State Systems of Early Learning Act” would establish a $350 million Early Learning Challenge Fund for fiscal year 2012. That money would be awarded to states through a competitive application process. It would help those states build new programs and co-ordinate existing efforts to help children, up to the age of 5, learn. The states would be required to chip in with a 15 percent match. With city, state and federal politicians looking to cut spending, Casey insisted the money would be well spent. “I know what the usual refrain is when people say, ‘Oh here’s another bill, another program.’ But what we’re trying to do here is to use federal initiative and investment of a very limited nature, by the way, to complement and to work with and to grow what we’re already working at the state level,” he said. Casey said the investment will pay off because children who get help now will become more productive members of the workforce in the future.