Select a quality mentoring program for your child

What should you look for when selecting a mentoring program? Explore suggestions on how to find a safe and high quality program.

Finding the right mentoring program for your child can be overwhelming. There are many common concerns, and safety usually ranks number one. Fortunately, there are some great tools and simple questions you can ask to find a program that provides a safe, positive experience for your child.

Researchers have developed some common best practices to guide mentoring programs in their efforts to create high-quality programs. Learning about the best practices and finding out if a program follows them is an excellent way to determine if you are comfortable with a program. Mentor Michigan provides the “Michigan Quality Program Standards for Youth Mentoring” checklist of criteria that can be used when evaluating a particular program. While all of the standards are important, there are a few program components that parents should pay particular attention to when selecting a program.

Mentor screening is vital to youth safety in any mentoring program. When investigating a program, look at the volunteer screening methods. These are often listed on a website or you can call and ask. Recommended screening procedures include an application, reference, criminal history and other background checks, and a face-to-face interview with the candidate. For community-based mentoring programs you might look to see if a driving record check is performed. You should also find out who is eligible to mentor to make sure the program does not accept persons with a background that is unacceptable to you.

Next, look at the program’s mentor training and matching process. Youth receive the most benefit from mentoring when they develop a strong relationship with the mentor. Mentors who receive training are more likely to have realistic expectations and the skills needed to develop a strong relationship. Close relationships also develop when the mentor and mentee have shared interests. When programs consider the interests and experiences of the young person and the mentor when matching, they are more likely to create successful relationships.

Finally, pay attention to how the program will monitor matches. Screening is a great tool to keep youth safe, but it isn’t perfect. Programs that frequently interact with youth, the parent and the mentor or provide on-site supervision will be more likely to spot concerns and intervene.

Enrolling a child in a mentoring program can be a little scary for some parents. Follow these tips and you are sure to find a high quality program that will provide your child with a rewarding experience.

For more information about how to find a program in your area, see “Find the best mentoring program for your child.”

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