Things to consider when closing a mentoring match – Part 2

Mentoring programs create matches but don’t always consider what needs to take place when a match is closed. Learn what the best practices and proper processes are for closing a match while considering the best interest of the youth.

In the first article of this three part series, I discussed the reasons why a youth mentoring match may close. In this article, we will explore the process of closing an adult youth mentoring match.

When deciding to close a mentoring match, the decision should be a collective one reached by the mentoring program staff, mentor, mentee and mentee’s family. After making the determination to close a match, for various reasons mentioned in the first article of this series, there are several steps to follow in the closure process to ensure all individuals involved understand what is happening and that there is little to no damage done to the youth and their emotions.

Best practices for mentoring programs tell us a formal match closure process is needed. All parties in the mentoring match should understand what is happening and expectations should be clear. In this process, it is important to indicate the formal relationship is ending and what that entails. Here is the recommended process to take when closing an adult/youth mentoring match:

  • Notify all the parties involved of intent to close the match: mentoring program, mentor, mentee, mentee’s family, other affiliated programs (such as schools).
  • Schedule a face-to-face closure meeting with all parties.
  • During the meeting, provide time to discuss and acknowledge the match’s feelings, memories, accomplishments and favorite activities or fun times.
  • Discuss everyone’s future plans and expectations.
  • Determine if the individuals will remain in contact and if so, what that specifically look like (i.e. calls, visits, etc.).
  • Decide if the mentor and or mentee are good candidates to be re-matched or referred to another program.

If the mentoring match agrees upon future contact, the supporting mentoring program is no longer responsible for overseeing the match and its interactions. This becomes the parents’ responsibility.

If a formal match closure meeting is not possible, a letter will suffice. The letter must be very specific and include as much of the match closure process as possible. All parties should sign the letter in agreement and return the signed copy to the mentoring program. This signed letter indicates the mentoring program is no longer liable for the individuals in this particular mentoring relationship.

For adult mentors looking for additional information about mentoring, Michigan State University Extension offers volunteer mentor training that covers the many stages of adult/youth mentoring matches, including when a match has to end. You can find also find additional information regarding mentor training and mentoring program best practices on the Michigan 4-H website or through the National Mentoring Partnership.

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