Category: Archived Articles

Published: 21 November 2014

Hits: 1639

After 12 weeks of meetings every Wednesday, this is how one of the new mothers talked about what the pilot 5 Steps to Five program in Port Chester has meant to her ...


By Allen Clark


After 12 weeks of meetings every Wednesday, this is how one of the new mothers talked about what the pilot 5 Steps to Five program in Port Chester has meant to her: “You have given me light in how to teach my new baby.” Another said, “I wish I’d known this with my first child. I’d have brought him up much better.” These mothers were part of the first group of seven low-income families to try out the new Early Childhood Development (ECD) initiative that began this past March at The Carver Center.


Now, the 5 Steps to Five group that is raising all the money for the program has taken a second big step: weekly Saturday morning sessions for parents and babies 9 months and older. And every Wednesday afternoon, a second 12-week group with parents of newborns is underway. The beginning sessions are called “Foundation,” the Saturday ones, “Exploration.”


5 Steps focuses on the importance of nurturing, talking, and reading to babies – interaction that research has shown helps infants’ minds develop their inherent potential. As the babies grow up, facilitators add advanced advice and activities appropriate to the changing cognitive, emotional, and social needs and conditions of infants, plus their advancing motor skills. The program continues right up until the infants enter Head Start at age 3.


The Foundation course was largely put together and is conducted by Rye Neck resident Tina Petrone who earned her Master’s of Education at Bank Street College’s Infant Parent Development Program, using evidence-based programs like “Nurturing Parenting.” The Exploration course is run by Rye resident Rocio Marquez-Rodriquez who has worked with disadvantaged families for 20 years.


Based on the pilot programs this year, 5 Steps looks forward to four Foundation groups in 2015, or a total of 40 new parents and babies, plus Exploration sessions almost ever Saturday through the year, currently with capacity for 20 parents/infants each week. Combined, 5 Steps to Five will be helping 50 to 60 qualified participants by year-end. That number should reach close to 100 in 2016.


To finance this expansion, 5 Steps to Five began reaching out to the Rye, Port Chester, and neighboring communities this month. With a new challenge grant from the Eugene and Emily Grant Family Foundation in Mamaroneck, all donations will receive matching funds up to a total of $100,000. This is the second challenge grant the Grant Family Foundation has made; the first, for $50,000, helped fund the pilot year. 


It seems a week doesn’t go by without an article in regional and national media about the need for ECD, the value of reading to your baby, or pre-K programs. 5 Steps to Five takes these goals one, important step further – it begins at birth. The organization’s underlying rationale is that too much time, money, and effort has gone into addressing the consequences of poverty. Founder Kent Warner’s plan attacks a primary cause of poverty.


By building literacy, problem-solving capabilities, and self-worth early on, disadvantaged infants will be better prepared to succeed in school and in life. As Rye resident and supporter Alan Kelsey said, “It is my firm belief that the only way out of poverty is education, and this takes collaboration among parents and children.” Warner added, “Our program isn’t ‘charity’; it’s an investment.” 

 

The author is a member of the 5 Steps to Five advisory committee.

New Port Chester Parenting/Baby Program Takes Second Step Right on Schedule

Investing in the Future of Those in Need

Category: Archived Articles

Published: 25 March 2016

Hits: 570

For years, America and Americans have spent millions of dollars and countless hours fighting poverty, including trying to help disadvantaged kids stay in, let alone do better in, school. The intent is usually laudable; the results, too often lamentable. Now, for the first time, the country is talking about pre-school programs as a better way.

 

By Allen Clark

 

For years, America and Americans have spent millions of dollars and countless hours fighting poverty, including trying to help disadvantaged kids stay in, let alone do better in, school. The intent is usually laudable; the results, too often lamentable. Now, for the first time, the country is talking about pre-school programs as a better way.

 

This new interest is not just good will; it is the realization that attacking some of the root causes of our social and educational problems makes more social and economic sense than trying to correct what are the harmful results of those problems.

 

The paper has run a couple of articles on the new, privately funded program called 5 Steps to Five, now in its third year in Port Chester. The driving force behind the initiative has been Kent Warner, a 90-year-old Rye resident, and his wife Mary Alice. Major funding to get the program off the ground came from Eugene and Emily Grant of Mamaroneck, whose family foundation challenged Warner to raise the necessary funds for Year One and again Year Two with dollar-for-dollar matching donations. Eugene Grant just turned 97.

 

There’s something very appealing about some 90-year-olds helping shape the futures of rooms full of babies. Their concern and involvement is an example for the rest of us in Rye.

 

In case you missed the past articles, 5 Steps to Five is an Early Child Development (ECD) program designed to help low-income parents gain the knowledge and hands-on coaching necessary for their babies’ brains, bodies, and emotional make-up to develop fully. The goal: entering kindergarten on a playing field for educational success that is as close as possible to the one kids from better-off situations enjoy (Rye, for example).

 

The program starts at birth or even a few months before, with women in their third trimester of pregnancy. Trained teachers and family workers (Head Start employees during the week) meet with the parents and infants every Saturday morning, in groups where socialization occurs. In under two years, weekly attendance has grown from just eight moms in one room with two teachers to over 30 attending each week, in four rooms, with as many as 12 staff members by the end of 2015.  Periodic interviews document the impact the program is having. One mother’s example, “If I knew what I now know, I would have brought up my older child a lot differently.” Another, “It has changed me, and it has changed my child.” Over 100 families have been touched by this program.

 

Those of us involved think of 5 Steps to Five not as “charity” but as an investment. Because that’s exactly what it is. Money spent now, when it can have such a positive impact on future lives and life-long productivity, is a small amount compared to the economic benefits it can produce… and compared to the expense trying to deal with the problems that result from not having these babies develop fully.

 

We are very fortunate to be able to live in Rye. Just a few miles north of us, the contrast in social and economic environment and educational need should make us pause and give cause to want to help. A new support group has been formed, “Rye Friends of Five Steps to Five.” It offers something its members can see and feel and appreciate – not just with financial support but with personal involvement.

 

Rye has notable support groups for all kinds of good causes, like the Rye Y, the Rye Nature Center, and The Rye Arts Center. Friends of better educational opportunity for our less fortunate neighbors belongs on that list.

 

Information about Rye Friends of 5 Steps to Five can be found by emailing kfwarner@5stepstofive.org.

PO Box 923

Rye, NY 10580

Call Us:

914-708-7863

© 2023 by THE HOPE CENTER. 

  • Facebook Social Icon
  • Instagram