Best Practices for Monitoring and Support
in Programs Serving Youth in and/or Leaving Care
As with any relationship, there will be challenges and as a mentor begins to spend time with the mentee, it will be helpful to keep this in mind. For a relationship with a high-risk youth, the challenges may be more pronounced and a mentoring program needs to account for these challenges so that a mentor will have the tools he/she needs to be most successful during each stage of the relationship:
Stage 1: Getting to Know Each Other
Be predictable and consistent - It is critical for mentors to be predictable and consistent, even if the young person is less consistent.
Anticipate testing - Some young people may not trust adults and as a result, they use testing as a coping or defense mechanism to determine whether the adult can be trusted. Mentors need to be aware of the fact the mentee might test by not showing up to a scheduled meeting just to see how the mentor will react. It is helpful for the mentor to set expectations and acknowledge when those expectations have not been met. This will help the mentee understand when his/her behavior is inappropriate or hurtful.
Establish confidentiality - Establishing confidentiality helps to instill a sense of trust between mentor and mentee. Mentors should let their mentee know that whatever s/he wants to share will remain confidential, as long as—and it is important to stress this point—what s/he tells the mentor is not going to harm him/her or someone else.
MENTORS ENGAGE YOUTH WHEN THEY:
- find the right blend of purposefulness and personal connection;
- give the youth voice and choice;
- have consistent interaction; and
- provide opportunities to contribute to the world around them.
Focus on building a connection - When asked about engagement, youth said:
- Spend time talking with us
- Listen, don’t multi-task or get distracted when you’re with us.
- Respond to our email, voice, and text messages.
- Do what you say you’re going to do.
- Show appreciation for what we do.
- Relax, don’t feel like you have to be on your guard.
- Laugh with us.
- Attend our concerts, games, and other events.
- Show that you have confidence in us.
- Ask us to help you, and to show you what we can do.
- Teach us what you know.
- Push us to do our best.