How can I become a mentor?
The first step is to fill out an application and set up an interview appointment. If you’d like to complete an application to become a mentor click here.
How can I enroll my child?
The first step is to fill out an application and set up an interview appointment. If you’d like to complete an application to enroll your child into the Big Brothers Big Sisters program, click here.
Who are the mentors in the program?
BBBSP mentors come from diverse backgrounds just like the kids in the program. They are regular people, just like you. You don’t need any special degrees or job skills. Mentors are simply adults who are willing to spend some time with a child facing adversity.
Who are the children in the program?
The children we serve may include children without parents living or involved in their lives, children from single parent families, children who have no or few extended family members in their lives and/or children who face negative peer pressure and lack role models. These children usually have limited access to adults with whom they can speak about their challenges, fears and dreams.
How old does a child have to be to be enrolled in the BBBS program?
BBBSP serves children between the ages of 7 and 17 years old.
How old does a mentor have to be?
The mentors need to be at least 20 years old.
How does the matching process work?
When a parent enrolls a child in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program, the child and the parent participate in the BBBSP matching process – a process which helps us create lasting relationships between children and a mentors.
Before we make a match, we do our homework. After someone expresses an interest in becoming a Big, they go through a background check and careful interview process. Parents know what’s best for their child. So we ask parents to give information about their child’s strength’s and needs
The BBBSP staff meet with parents, children and mentors to find out more about each person. Based upon the background, life experience, schedules, personalities and interests of both the mentors and children, BBBSP staff propose what they believe is the best match option. Only when the mentor, parent AND child agree do we formally schedule a match meeting where the mentor and the child and parent meet each other for the first time. At the match meeting, someone from our staff also attends to make the introductions, revisit the program’s guidelines and answer questions.
Once the match is made, one of our staff will check in frequently with the parent, the Little Brother or Little Sister and the mentor, particularly at the earliest stages of the match, to see how the friendship is developing and to offer ideas and opportunities and to provide one-to-one coaching/training as needed. This will be done in person, on email and over the phone. This also provides a structured way of identifying challenges and strengthening the communication between the mentor, the child, the family and agency staff. Keeping in touch with agency staff throughout the match is one of the requirements of the program.
What is the time commitment?
Children meet with their mentors 2-4 times a month and we ask the children and mentors to commit to the match for at least 1 year. Some mentors and children meet on the weekends. Others get together in the evenings. Each match develops a schedule that works for them.
When can the mentors and children meet?
You decide together what you want to do and then the child gets parent approval. We recommend that you keep a consistent schedule of outings and get together on a regular basis. BBBSP will provide more guidance on this. Until your relationship is established, the outings will also depend on the comfort level of the child’s parents, the child and you.
What do mentors and children do together?
Each match is unique. Getting together doesn’t require a special occasion or expensive activity—just a few hours every month doing things the child and the mentor already enjoy. For example: you could share an activity that gives you something in common to talk about. Buy a comic book to read together. Play a board game. Hit a bucket of golf balls at the local driving range. Take a ride in the car with the radio on and talk about the music you like. You want to select activities that give each of you a chance to learn more about one another. For children, playing can be learning. Most important: keep it simple and enjoy yourselves!
Do the mentors need to spend any money?
The quality of time invested with a child is more important than the amount of money you spend. That’s why we don’t encourage spending a lot of money on your outings. The goal of the relationship is to help them see the world through a different lens so you can inspire them to become something he/she never thought possible. If you are going to spend money, we encourage you to seek out low-cost activities, especially in the beginning. Shoot hoops at a local park, play a game together, or share that pizza that you were going to have for lunch. BBBSP will also provide group activities that are a great way to meet other mentors and kids in the program. As a mentor, you may also receive notices for free tickets to cultural and sports activities for you both to enjoy.
Does mentor become a replacement parent?
No, Little Brothers and Little Sisters have a parent or guardian the in their life already. What they need is a mentor to spend quality, one-on-one time with them. Someone to have fun with, someone they can confide in. Mentors are there to supplement the support system for the parent not replace it.
What kind of support does BBBSP provide?
From the beginning of the application process, until you’re matched and during the match, you will have lots of support from BBBSP staff. A Relationship Specialist from the agency will be in regular contact with the child, the mentor and parent and also will provide assistance and give feedback. Any time there is uncertainty about what to do or how to handle a situation, a RS will be there to help. They’ll help you with ideas for activities, guidance for handling possible difficult situations, and feedback on how the mentor is making a difference.
How do the parent, child and mentor communicate with each other?
After the mentor, child and parent meet for the first time, at the introduction, the Relationship Specialist (RS) will go over the match agreement , expectations as well as reiterating the importance of communication. The RS will emphasize the significance of communicating with BBBSP, specifically with their RS, questions, concerns, progress and accomplishments about the match. The RS will hand the mentor and parents identification cards listing the mentor’s information, such as their birthday and phone numbers as well as contact information for the parent, food allergies the child may have, medications taken by the child and the child’s birthday and the match date with their mentor.
Can the mentor bring their spouse, a friend or family member on outings?
In the beginning it’s important for the two of you to get to know each other. This can happen best on a one-to-one basis. However, over time it’s also valuable for your match child to get to know the people who are important to you. Just keep in mind that if you’re spending lots of time with others, the child may begin to feel jealous or neglected. The main focus is the friendship you develop and the impact you have on the child’s life.
Do BBBSP enroll every child who applies?
We try very hard to match each child with a mentor but it can sometimes take several months depending upon the number of mentors enrolled. There may also be situations where we would refer the parent of the child to another foundation who may better serve the child and his or her needs.
If you have other questions please send us an email and we’ll do our best to answer them. I have a question.