Referring youth to appropriate mentoring programs

When searching for a mentoring program, it is important to conduct research to ensure that the most appropriate program is selected. This article explores things to consider when referring youth to a mentoring program.

Parents, social workers, teachers and other caring adults may determine that a young person can benefit from participating in a mentoring program.  The reasoning behind referrals for mentoring is unique for each individual.  Referred youth may need a positive role model, assistance in setting and achieving short and long term goals, or support in academics or social skills.  Other youth may possess various challenges including behavioral problems.  The severity of the youths’ behavioral challenges can determine the program referral source, according to Michigan State University Extension

Youth referred by the local juvenile justice system may struggle with authority or have broken the law.  Some mentoring programs are more intense and equipped to serve difficult populations such as adjudicated youth and youth with mental health challenges.  You may want to reconsider the referral of a high risk youth (youth with two mental health diagnosis) to a newly established program with mentors with no mental health training. This is why it is imperative to consider a variety of youth development or mentoring programs so youth can participate in the one that is the best fit. 

Since the reasons for mentoring program enrollment vary, it is important to conduct research to ensure that the selected mentoring program is able to meet and address the young person’s needs.  You can research mentoring programs by conducting internet searches with key words or phrases.  Example phrases for mentoring program internet searches include, “mentoring programs in my area,” “youth mentoring,” and “how to find the right mentoring program.”  A variety of mentoring resources will appear from your searches.  Read the descriptions and overviews of the mentoring programs to determine which is the right one for specific youth.  Another resource for identifying appropriate mentoring programs is MENTOR. This organization promotes, advocates and is a resource for mentors and mentoring initiatives worldwide.  On the MENTOR website, you can enter your zip code to search mentoring programs in your city or town. 

After completing internet searches and visiting the MENTOR website, you should have enough information to make an informed decision in selecting the appropriate mentoring program for your youth.

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