Best Practices for the Training of Mentors
for Programs Serving Youth Who Are, Or Have Been In Receipt Of Child Protection Services:
Training begins during recruitment and screening. In fact, it begins with the first contact with prospective mentors. As part of the application and screening process, all potential mentors should receive straightforward, realistic information about both the challenges and benefits of mentoring youth receiving child protection services. Let potential mentors know that they will spend considerable time in training, both before the match and throughout their volunteer experience.
Mentors are the most valuable asset in any mentoring program. The training program should provide them with the tools they need to successfully fulfill their role. Training for mentors working with youth receiving child protection services, particularly those in or leaving care, should be more comprehensive than traditional mentoring programs. The following training should be delivered to mentors:
“Youth in systems of care have many service provid¬ers working with them at once, in addition to the mentor. Social network mapping can help pro¬grams understand the interconnectedness of these supports and key players in the young person’s life, helping deliver more targeted mentoring.”
- An orientation to governing legislation for Child Welfare/ Child Protection Services in Ontario – The Child and Family Services Act (CFSA) - and its mandates and policies; how to navigate the care system; how the mentoring agency works in relation to this system.
- A mentor may be the only person connected to a youth receiving child protection services who is not paid or seen as being in an authoritative position. Clearly outline the role of the mentor in relation to:
- mentoring program coordinator
- CAS case worker
- group home staff or foster parents/guardians
- biological parents
- Mentors should be trained regarding the unique needs of youth in care and how mentoring can become a vital part of a youth’s support network:
- Share studies which show how involvement in a positive and consistent mentoring relationship leads to a profound improvement in the youth’s ability to function and thereby succeed as a productive member of society.
- Help the prospective mentor understand the importance of individualizing the young person by focusing on their strengths and appreciating their resiliency.
-Thomas Keller, Director of the Summer Institute on Youth Mentoring and the Center for Interdisciplinary Mentoring Research