7h1ii - MATCHING: Best Practices

Monitoring and Support

The relationship is the mechanism by which change happens in mentoring programs. Although not every relationship leads to desired change, there are evidence-informed elements that must be fostered in those relationships to achieve success:

  1. Closeness: Herrera, Sipe, and McClanahanxii observed that “at the crux of the mentoring relationship is the bond that forms between the youth and mentor. If a bond does not form, then youth and mentors may disengage from the match before the mentoring relationship lasts long enough to have a positive impact on youth.”
  2. Consistency: Studies of both informal and formal mentoring relationships highlight the significance of how often mentors and youth spend time together. Regular contact has been linked to positive youth outcomes indirectly via its role in affording other desirable processes to take root in the mentoring relationship. For example, regular meetings may lead to engagement in beneficial activitiesxiii, the provision of emotional and instrumental supportxiv, and a deeper integration of the adult into the youth’s social network.xv The reliable involvement of a caring non-parental adult in a youth’s life may offer more direct benefits as well in the form of enhanced feelings of security and attachment in interpersonal relationships.xvi
  3. Youth-centredness: Relationships that are youth-centered in their orientation, as opposed to being driven primarily by the interests or expectations of the mentor, have been found to predict greater relationship quality and durationxvii as well as improvements in how youth experience their relationships with other adults.xviii
  4. Structure: Researchers have found that outcomes are most favourable when youth report experiencing both structure and support from their mentors. Helping youth to set and work toward goals that are important to their development appears to be beneficial, especially if the goals are agreed upon by the mentor and youth in accordance with a youth-centered approach.xix
  5. Duration: Positive effects become progressively stronger as relationships persist for longer periods. Conversely, youth whose relationships terminate prematurely experience a significant decline in self-concept when compared with youth who were not mentored at all.xx
Fostering these elements through monitoring and support leads to more positive youth outcomes.

xii Herrera, C., Sipe, C. L., & McClanahan, W. S. (2000). Mentoring school-age children: Relationship development in community-based and school-based programs. Philadelphia: Public/Private Ventures. (Published in collaboration with MENTOR/ National Mentoring Partnership, Alexandria, VA

xiii Parra, G. R., DuBois, D. L., Neville, H. A., Pugh-Lilly, A. O., & Povinelli, N. (2002). Mentoring relationships for youth: Investigation of a process-oriented model. Journal of Community Psychology, 30, 367–388.

xiv Herrera, C., Sipe, C. L., & McClanahan, W. S. (2000). Mentoring school-age children: Relationship development in community-based and school-based programs. Philadelphia: Public/Private Ventures. (Published in collaboration with MENTOR/ National Mentoring Partnership, Alexandria, VA

xv DuBois, D. L., Neville, H. A., Parra, G. R., & Pugh-Lilly, A. O. (2002). Testing a new model of mentoring. In G. G. Noam (Ed.-in-chief) & J. E. Rhodes (Ed.), A critical view of youth mentoring (New Directions for Youth Development: Theory, Research, and Practice), No. 93, pp. 21-57. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass

xvi Keller, T. E. (2005b).The stages and development of mentoring relationships. In D. L. DuBois & M. J. Karcher (Eds.), Handbook of youth mentoring, pp. 82-99. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage

xvii Herrera, C., Sipe, C. L., & McClanahan, W. S. (2000). Mentoring school-age children: Relationship development in communitybased and school-based programs. Philadelphia: Public/Private Ventures. (Published in collaboration with MENTOR/National Mentoring Partnership, Alexandria, VA

xviii Karcher, M. J., Roy-Carlson, L., Benne, K., Gil-Hernandez, D., Allen, C., & Gomez, M. (2006). A mixed methods approach to identifying factors that influenced Latino mentees’ changes in connectedness after mentoring. In C. M. Buchanan (Chair), The impact of mentoring of Latino youth: Academic outcomes and other developmental assets. Symposium presented at the Biennial Meeting of the Society for Research on Adolescence, San Francisco, CA.

xix Langhout, R. D., Rhodes, J. E., & Osborne, L. (2004). An exploratory study of youth mentoring in an urban context: Adolescents’ perceptions of relationship styles. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 33, p. 293–306.

xx Rhodes, Jean E. (2002). Stand by Me: The risks and rewards of mentoring today’s youth. Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, p. 62.