Advocates fear fund cutoff for low-income early childhood program - The Buffalo News

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Advocates fear fund cutoff for low-income early childhood program

Valentino Shine Jr. was a senior at Medaille College when his oldest son was born. He remembers taking him to some of his classes a decade ago, but knows a decision he made when both his sons were 3 years old has been key to their early academic success. He and his wife, Tasia, enrolled Valentino III, now 10, and Jackson, 6, in the Parent-Child Home Program.

The family had a powerful advocate: Shine's mother, Laythenetta, assistant program coordinator, helped coach her grandsons through reading, writing and math exercises, better preparing them for grade school.

"It helped me as a young parent to understand the importance of education, and give me the tools to enable my children to enjoy education," said Shine, who recently received a program advocacy award while fighting for the program's survival in Washington, D.C.

Roughly 140,000 low-income families could lose this valuable resource next month if Congress doesn't reauthorize the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting bill, which supports the Parent-Child Home Program and hundreds like it across the country.

The evidence-based Buffalo program is among those shown to improve health, education and family self-sufficiency outcomes.

Shine, 33, took the lead in his household to see to it that the program lessons stuck. He holds a bachelor's degree in business administration from Medaille and a master's in entertainment business from Full Sail University in Winter Park, Fla. He recently took a job as marketing and branding specialist with the new WUFO Power 96.5-FM.

"Being a stickler for education, and a male, I wanted to make sure I instilled the importance of education in my children, especially being a young black man in America," Shine said. "I'm the enforcer when it comes to education in our household. The program gave me the resources and education to deal with my children while teaching them.

Q. Talk about the award you recently received in Washington, D.C.

It was for advocating for the importance of early childhood education. I was one of the only fathers, and one of the only black fathers, at the ceremony. We got to speak with legislators about continuing funding of the MIECHV bill.

Q. How often did you plug into the program and how long did it last?

My mother would visit my children three times a week for an hour a day reading, writing and mathematics. The program lasted two years.

Q. Talk about your kids.

Both my children are stars in their appropriate grade levels. They've been receiving honor awards ever since they've started school.

Q. How involved have you continued to be in their education?

Very involved. Every teacher at both my sons' schools knows my name. I attend all parent-teacher conferences and get involved in as many after-school activities as permitted by my work schedule.

Valentino is starting sixth grade at Waterfront Elementary School, and Jackson will start first grade in King Center Charter School.

To learn more about the program through Jericho Road Ministries, email deb.fleischmann@jrchc.org. Learn more about the program at King Urban Life Center by emailing lalexander@kingurbanlifecenter.org or calling 895-2050. For similar programs elsewhere, visit parent-child.org.

email: refresh@buffnews.com

Twitter: @BNrefresh, @ScottBScanlon

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