National Mentoring Resource Center Blog

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Youth, Mentoring, and the Opioid Crisis: New Tools for Assessing Needs and Tracking Outcomes

SEPTEMBER 30, 2019


Back in June of last year, Mike Garringer contributed an entry on this blog that addressed the ways in which mentoring for youth potentially could be useful in combating the opioid crisis (see "The Promise and Potential of Mentors in Combating the Opioid Crisis"). Mike highlighted a number of promising areas for mentors to be an asset to young people already engaged in opioid abuse (e.g., providing hope and motivation for recovery, connecting them to and supporting their engagement in treatment services). He also emphasized the potential for mentors to be helpful on the "front-end" of this issue by supporting the healthy development of young people in ways that prevent the initiation of use altogether (i.e., primary prevention). Finally, and I think this may turn out be a particularly fruitful avenue of contribution, he called attention to the potential of mentoring to be an important source of support for young people who have suffered fallout from the opioid misuse of parental or other adult support figures. As Mike noted, in fact, we already have good evidence that mentors can be beneficial to youth whose adult support systems are disrupted or otherwise compromised due to incarceration of a parent or the youth's placement into foster care, each of which are situations often experienced by youth whose parents are struggling with opioid use.

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Fostering Healthy Futures

SEPTEMBER 30, 2019

Fostering Healthy Futures

We recently published a paper replicating findings from previous research on the mental health impacts of the Fostering Healthy Futures (FHF) program (Taussig, Weiler, Garrido, Rhodes, Boat & Fadell, 2019). The study was a randomized controlled trial with 426 children who were randomly assigned to either FHF or the control condition. Below are a few important takeaways from this research.

Briefly, FHF is a mentoring and skills group program for preadolescent youth (ages 9-11) who have experienced maltreatment and been placed in foster care. The mentors are graduate students in social work and psychology who receive course credit for their mentoring. Each graduate student mentors two children in one-to-one matches over the course of 30 weeks (across the academic year). They also provide transportation for their mentees to and from a weekly skills group.

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LGBTQ Supplement to the Elements of Effective Practice for Mentoring

JUNE 10, 2019

LGBTQ Supplement

With the recent release of The LGBTQ Supplement to the Elements of Effective Practice for Mentoring, mentoring professionals across the country are finally able to access a growing number of research- and practitioner- informed recommendations that can improve the safety and quality of services for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth.

Why is the LGBTQ Youth Supplement Important?

LGBTQ youth—estimated to be seven percent of the U.S. population (ages 8-18)— are present in almost every mentoring program in the country. Although many LGBTQ youth are out and will openly disclose information about their sexual orientation and/or gender identity with program staff and mentors they trust, many more—especially those that are in elementary or middle school and in earlier phases of identity development—may still be questioning, feeling unsure about their place in the world, and are looking for clues as to whether they will be safe and will be accepted when interacting with service providers.

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My Experience Bringing Mentoring to Tribal Communities

JUNE 7, 2019

Mentoring AI/AIN Youth

Welcome to this blog post! The NMRC has this great new evidence review on mentoring American Indian and Alaskan Native youth up on the website (co-authored by yours truly), and before you read it, I want to share just a bit about some of the things I have learned that worked in my career. This context will help you understand some of the areas of emphasis in the larger review.

First, I have been sincerely inspired by the Native American culture and their traditions, values, and spirituality. Each time I implement my mentorship intervention, my heart for this culture grows. I will note that my experiences doing this work are limited to one tribe in South Dakota and one in Wisconsin and thus, my perspective is not reflective of all Native American tribes or traditions. This is a “culture” that respectfully encompasses many different languages, traditions, and values spread across the full geographic scope of Native America.  I will probably only scratch the surface of the rich diversity in my career.

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Creating Tiered Levels of Support to Sustainably Reduce Coordinator Burn-Out

MAY 16, 2019

Mentor Connector

Five years ago, I quickly became the ringleader of the controlled chaos at The Mentor Connector. At first, the small staff were overworked and struggling to keep up with the demand. Our mentor match to staff ratio was well over 65:1 and funding for mentoring services had been waning for the past four years. There was no way we could continue to provide high-quality mentoring to all our matches, much less think about growth.

I’m sure you would agree that the Mentor Coordinator position is basically a catch-all for every aspect of a mentoring program. The coordinator is the recruiter, trainer, supporter, evaluator, and many times the fundraiser of the organization. It is the coordinator who could find themselves recruiting at a community event in the morning, to cleaning the office after an afternoon activity, to providing evening support to a mentor when her youth discloses suicidal thoughts. With the current structure, burnout was inevitable.

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