7a2ii. RECRUITMENT - MENTOR RECRUITMENT - BEST PRACTICES: Standard Practices - What Are Youth Looking For?

The life experiences, attitudes, and behaviors of young people involved with child protection services can introduce challenges to the mentoring relationship. In particular, youth in care face unique challenges, regardless of the reason for, or the length of their stay in the care system. Most of these young people come from backgrounds and experiences where relationships have a history of trauma, lack of attachment and disappointment. Therefore, successful mentoring of these youth requires a good fit between a youth and a mentor. The following should be considered when deciding whom to recruit as mentors:

What Are Youth Looking for in a Mentor?

A review of the Mentoring Literature found that when asked what they are looking for in a mentor, the following personal characteristics are important for youth in care to see in their mentor:

  • Trust, attention, empathy, availability, affirmation, respect and virtue (Laursen and Birmingham, 2003)
  • Authenticity, collaboration and companionship (Spencer, 2006)
  • Encouraging, reliable and able to provide help when needed (Collins et al, 2010)
  • Ability to guide, understand and listen (Hudson, 2013)
Interviewees from Key Informant interviews have identified additional characteristics (see Appendix C) :
  • Previous mentoring experience
  • Supportive without being directive
  • Belief in the young person
  • Willing to let go of stereotypical views of youth in care, or those receiving child protective services
  • Youth centered
  • Ability to follow through on expectations and obligations; a “stick-to-it-iveness”
  • Able to meet rejection, challenge and change with consistency
  • Open to learning


* See Appendix C, Summary of Key Informant Interviews, for additional details