Supporting mentoring relationships of youth in foster care: Do program practices predict match length?
Stelter, R. L., Kupersmidt, J. B., & Stump, K. N. (2018). Supporting mentoring relationships of youth in foster care: Do program practices predict match length? American Journal of Community Psychology, 61, 398-410. https://doi.org/10.1002/ajcp.12246
Objectives: Implementation of research- and safety-based program practices enhance the longevity of mentoring relationships, in general; however, little is known about how mentoring programs might support the relationships of mentees in foster care. Benchmark program practices and Standards in the Elements of Effective Practice for Mentoring, 3rd Edition (MENTOR, 2009) were assessed in the current study as predictors of match longevity for youth in foster care.
Methods: Secondary data analyses were conducted on a national agency information management database from 216 Big Brothers Big Sisters agencies serving 641 youth in foster care and 70,067 youth not in care from across the United States. Agency leaders from 32 programs completed a web-based survey describing their policies and practices.
Results: Mentees in foster care had shorter matches and matches that were more likely to close prematurely than mentees who were not in foster care. The sum total numbers of Benchmark program practices and Standards were associated with match length for 208 mentees in foster care; however, neither predicted premature match closure.
Conclusions: The findings from this study support the importance of the implementation of practitioner-advised, research-informed, and evidence-based practices such as those described in the EEPM for contributing to longer lasting mentoring relationships that involve youth in foster care. Given the vulnerability of youth in foster care, particularly regarding their relationships with adults, it behooves mentoring programs to implement as many Benchmark practices as possible to increase the likelihood that mentoring relationships including youth in foster care have greater longevity.