Best Practices for Training Mentoring Program Staff
for Programs Serving Youth Who Are, Or Have Been In Receipt Of Child Protection Services:
An essential component of mentoring programs is ensuring that mentoring program staff are well-trained in issues and best practice related to mentoring, the care system, and cultural competences, putting them in the best position to effectively support matches. Ongoing training for staff working with youth who are LGBT2SQ should be provided about LGBT2SQ issues. Consider partnering with LGBT2SQ organizations for staff training. Internet and community resources with this information are also readily available.
Mentoring program staff members make important contributions to establishing strong mentoring relationships and achieving the goals of the program. For example, workers who recruit, screen, train, match, and monitor program participants have a role in supporting the mentoring relationship at every stage in its development (Keller, 2005a). In the process of maintaining clear communications, ensuring adherence to guidelines, and providing encouragement and advice, the workers may form their own meaningful relationships with mentors, children, and parents/guardians (Keller, 2005b). Ideally, as representatives of the program, these mentoring professionals would serve as excellent models of the very attributes they wish to see in mentors: being consistent, attentive, responsive; and providing appropriate structure and guidance to program participants.
Mentoring programs that serve youth in care though partnership with child welfare agencies must reach agreement with those agencies about how information on mentor- mentee matches will be maintained and shared, so that if a young person transitions to a new placement or a new child welfare agency, the mentoring relationship is continued.
Working With CAS Case Workers
Mentoring program staff should collaborate with child welfare agencies to ensure information about the mentoring program is included in training for CAS caseworkers. Expectations for the mentoring relationship should be clarified:
- Highlight how mentoring can fit into the life of a youth receiving child protection services.
- Clarify how mentoring can help the CAS caseworker achieve their goals for the youth in their caseload.
- Emphasize that mentoring must not be taken away as a form of punishment. Mentoring needs to be clearly stated as a part of services for youth.
- Instruct on how to assess a youth’s preparedness for mentoring, as well as his potential placement in a one-on-one or group mentoring relationship.
- Demonstrate how CAS caseworkers can assess the progress of a mentee within the mentor/mentee relationship through case management procedures.
- Show the CAS caseworker how to partner with a mentor while understanding the limits of what information can and should be shared with them.
- CAS caseworkers need to ensure mentors are informed of any changes in placement or any other new information about the youth’s circumstances.
- Include progress notes in the case record of the youth for tracking purposes and to involve the foster parents/guardians who can play an active role in facilitating visits and outings with a mentor.
- Create procedures that would maintain information on current mentor/mentee matches even if a youth is moved from one CAS agency to another. In many cases, the mentoring relationship may have been established at a primary agency, but the secondary agency may have no record of that relationship and/or may not understand how important it is to the youth that the relationship be allowed to continue.
- Develop a policy for continuing the mentoring relationship even if the youth in care is adopted - emphasizing the importance of the mentor as a consistent, positive relationship in the young person’s life to the adoptive parents.