We are continually recruiting children for participation in this program, however, spots are limited to the number of mentors that we have available. While we do consider things such as when your family signs up for the program when making matches, the most important things for us to consider are those that would facilitate the best match between your childand the mentors that we have available. Specifically, we view adoption story (i.e.: adopted out of foster care, international adoption), race / ethnicity, and gender, as three primary qualifications when matching your child with a mentor; therefore, even if you and your family signs up to participate first, we may match someone who signed up after you based on the goodness of fit between your child and the mentors.
In addition to those three main characteristics, we also place a strong emphasis on shared interests. Through the interview process in which we get to know your child better, we will be asking them questions about what they like to do in their free time, in the hopes of finding a mentor who also likes doing similar things. For instance, we would want to match an active child who enjoys playing outside with a mentor who enjoys going on hikes and playing in the park, rather than matching them with a mentor who prefers sitting incoffee shops.
How does the program work?
After you contact the program to get started, we will come out to your home to answer any questions you may have, interview you (the parents) and also interview your adopted child in a separate interview. It is important for the child to want to participate in the program as it requires them to make a new friendship, something that some children are hesitant to do.
In these interviews, we will gather basic information about your family, such as what you like to do together, the parents perspective on the adoption story, as well as parent's concerns about their children participating in the program.
We will also seek to learn more about your child's interests in the hopes of making the best match possible. We will also discuss logistics and program requirements at this time, as well as discuss with both you and your children, the time commitment that you will be asked to make.
It is asked that mentors and mentees meet for 3-5 hours per week, every week. While this may seem excessive, especially in a time filled with soccer practices, homework, and other children to care for, there are very important reasons for this time requirement that can be discussed in detail over the phone or in person.
After the interviews, we will contact you when we believe we have made a match with an undergraduate mentor. Please note, that the match process is entirely dependent on the available mentors that we have. While we are continuously recruiting, it is important that we find mentors who are responsible, and understand the seriousness of the task which they are about to undertake. Mentors are fully vetted according to Big Brothers Big Sisters standards including but not limited to reference checks and CORI checks.
Before your child starts out on their weekly mentoring adventures, we will have a large meeting in which the case manager for your child's match will introduce the mentor to you and your child. This is a great opportunity for you to meet the mentor, and for your child to meet the mentor in the comfort of their own home. At this meeting, you and the mentor can talk about scheduling a standing appointment
during the week for him or her to meet with your children and have fun!!! Match activities can vary a great deal depending on the interests of your child and the mentor, but we stress collaborative decision making in choosing what to do. Activities are likely to be free or low cost, and may be anything from going to the local corn maze in the fall, to carving pumpkins, going on hikes, going to the mall, or just sitting and watching the clouds go by... it all depends on what your child likes to do.
How to get started...
You can begin the process by contacting:
Jen Dolan at JDolan@psych.umass.edu
We will contact you shortly thereafter to discuss more details and answer more questions.