Best Practices for the Training of Mentees
for Programs Serving Youth Who Are, Or Have Been In Receipt Of Child Protection Services:
Training for mentees is a fundamental method of preparing a young person to be in involved in the new role of mentee. Knowledge and expectations about program requirements, as well as about this new type of relationship, can contribute significantly to its success. Ensure the content any training materials is both understandable (especially for individuals with a first language other than English) and also that the materials deal appropriately with issues that may be either uncomfortable or ‘taboo’ for specific cultural groups.
The benefits of mentee training are significant:
- Understanding the potential benefits of being mentored and setting goals for the relationship can help build motivation in mentees and empower young people to be active contributors to building their mentoring relationships.
- It can contribute to the understanding of the young person’s contribution to the relationship which enhances the likelihood of their commitment to the relationship.
- It can alleviate their anxiety and can help the relationship be initiated in a more positive manner.
- Mentees can contribute to participating in keeping themselves safe.
Many youth in care have experienced the loss of significant relationships in their lives and as a result it can be difficult to develop trusting relationships with adults. Researchers suggest that training for mentees should include attachment assessment modules and discussions on how their previous experience can have an influence on relationships with mentors and others in their lives.
Youth in care often have difficulty with boundaries in relationships. It is important to define appropriate and inappropriate behaviours, such as not calling a mentor in the middle of the night, not asking a mentor to help with financial problems and not expecting a mentor to intervene in conflicts with foster parents or social workers.
Finally, consider building relationships with other organizations that support youth who are diverse. For example, LGBT2SQ organizations to enhance the availability of supports for these youth; cultural organizations to foster cultural connections for both ethno-cultural youth and Aboriginal youth; or services that support the specialized needs of young people with intellectual, developmental or physical disabilities.