Tools to Strengthen Match Support and Closure
The following suite of tools for youth mentoring programs was developed to address something that a growing body of research suggests can be a major challenge in service delivery: the proper support and eventual closure of matches. These tools were inspired by the 2016 Summer Institute on Youth Mentoring, held at Portland State University, which focused on research related to the strategies programs use to strengthen and support matches, as well as the practices they use to facilitate a hopefully-positive closing to each mentor-mentee match (and the negative consequences of mishandling closure).
Among the research presented at the Summer Institute were preliminary findings from the Study to Analyze Relationships (STAR), led by Drs. Tom Keller and Renee Spencer, which is supported with funding from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. This and other research, as well as researcher-practitioner discussions from this event, inspired and informed the development of the tools found below. The National Mentoring Resource Center hopes these tools can help programs give matches the support they need to thrive and a closure process that affirms the positive gains from the mentoring experience.
These tools consist of:
This resource seeks to avoid match challenges in the first place by ensuring that participant expectations for the mentoring experience are clarified before mentoring begins. Sample scripts and questions for staff to ask are provided.
This resource uses an Excel workbook to help programs ensure that they have accounted for all of the tasks that go into making, supporting, and eventually closing matches. A “worksheet” version allows for gathering time estimates from multiple staff and the Excel calculator even converts the estimated hours into equivalent FTE.
- 2.A. Staffing Calculator for Match Support (Excel)
- 2.B. Worksheet - Tasks and Time Estimates for Staffing Calculator (Word)
This resource, inspired by the STAR study’s insights into why and how match participants can experience conflict or disappointment in the mentoring experience, can help program staff assess 10 theoretical dimensions of match health, offering insights into which participants may need extra support or how match support services can be strengthened overall.
4. Match Support Check-In Questions (Word)
These customizable sets of check-in questions for parents, mentors, and youth are designed to inform the Examining Mentoring Relationship Health tool, but can also be used separately to deepen staff understanding of participants’ experiences and challenges.
This agency has used prior research on the topic of match closure to develop these updated program practices and tip sheets for mentors in their community- and site-based mentoring models. The NMRC thanks BBBS Mass Bay for allowing us to include these resources here.