Mentoring works best when steps are taken to ensure program practices meet quality standards that are safe and effective. How a mentoring program goes about recruiting mentors and mentees, training them, matching and supporting them, evaluating its efforts are critical components of a safe and effective program.
MENTOR’s Elements of Effective Practice for Mentoring™ provides a roadmap for organizations to establish and operate successful mentoring programs that follow research-based practices for recruitment, screening, training, matching, monitoring and supporting, and closure as well as general program management, operations and evaluation.
Rapid growth in the number and type of youth mentoring programs available today is a positive sign that the mentoring movement is becoming more robust and more able to meet the mentoring needs of our young people. It can, however, make it difficult for parents, funders and others to assess quality.
MENTOR and its network of affiliate Mentoring Partnerships are facilitating a National Quality Mentoring System (NQMS) to provide a structured, systematic process for evaluating a mentoring program’s implementation of the Elements of Effective Practice for Mentoring™. Mentoring Partnerships facilitating NQMS assist programs in identifying existing quality practices, areas for improvement and action plans to meet national standards while providing ongoing training and support to achieve those goals.
Through the NQMS, MENTOR and its network of Mentoring Partnerships will be able to establish consistent quality standards among mentoring programs across the country. The system will provide a meaningful indicator of quality for youth mentoring programs and lend credibility to individual programs to attract resources and support. It will also help families and volunteers feel confident about participating in a mentoring program that meets quality standards.
The National Quality Mentoring System is based on the successful implementation of quality assessment and improvement processes piloted by Mentoring Partnerships in Massachusetts and Minnesota, namely Quality Based Membership and the Quality Mentoring Assessment Path, respectively. The core components of NQMS are:
Currently, a cohort of Mentoring Partnerships is part of a national evaluation of this initiative. The evaluation is funded by the William T. Grant Foundation and led by Dr. Thomas Keller of the Center for Interdisciplinary Mentoring Research at Portland State University in collaboration with Drs. Reneé Spencer and Carla Herrera. It will include an outcome evaluation examining the changes and improvements at mentoring programs achieved through participation in quality mentoring systems. It will also include a process evaluation of the mechanics of implementing quality mentoring systems.
The evaluation will run through the fall of 2016 and includes the following Mentoring Partnerships: