What should a case manager do once the mentoring match has been made?
Mentoring matches that receive attention and support from a case manager are more likely to complete the program terms and develop a supportive relationship.
It takes countless hours to get to the point of matching a mentor and mentee. The first match meeting can feel like such a relief – you made it! Unfortunately, there is no time to sit back. Case management or match monitoring is vital to the success of the mentoring relationship. Michigan State University Extension and MENTOR recommend the following to assist matches in creating a sustained relationship.
Frequency of contact
Contact the mentor, mentee and youth parent within 48 hours of the match meeting to find out how they feel about the match and to make sure there are no initial concerns. If any party has serious concerns about the match, you will want to look into it and consider a different match for the mentor and youth.
Contact the mentor and mentee at least twice each month for the first month of the match and monthly going forward. Contact can be made in person, by phone or email. The purpose of this contact is to understand how the relationship is developing and to provide support as needed. This should be a two-way conversation and allow you to get a feel for the relationship.
At minimum, contact the key person in the mentee’s life on a quarterly basis. This could be a parent, guardian or the person who referred the youth to the program. Key people can share the successes they are seeing as well as any concerns. Parents can tell us if their child is excited for visits or if they are hesitant.
You likely didn’t get into this job for the paperwork, but it is an important tool as you monitor matches and it is a key component of your risk management plan. Maintain a file documenting each mentor-mentee contact, including, at minimum, date, length and nature of contact. Many programs have mentors complete a progress report or log for each visit. You also want to log contact you have with the mentor, mentee and other key people related to this match.
It is important mentoring programs provide mentors with access to resources that will help when things get tough. This can include your time, links to relevant articles, group activities, newsletters, ongoing training opportunities and mentor support meetings to allow mentors to talk with other mentors. Aim for at least two types of support provided to each mentor on a monthly basis.
Utilize evidence-based relationship assessment tools. You want to see if the matches in your program are developing strong relationships. If they are not, it is time to look at the support provided and come up with a strategy to increase the quality of the relationships.
Recognize mentors for their contributions. People have different motivations for mentoring – consider their motivation when choosing a way to say thank you. The young people in your program won’t always say thank you, so it is important that someone thanks the mentor for giving their time to the youth and the program.
Plan for a healthy closure. When matches end abruptly, it can hurt the young person. Talk about closure from the beginning and be sure to communicate frequently when nearing the end of the match to make a closure plan.
It helps to hold time on your calendar for each of these tasks. Matches that receive attention and support from a case manager/match specialist are more likely to complete the terms of the program and develop a supportive relationship. Additionally, monitoring will help you manage the risks associated with mentoring.