Case managers’ influence on mentee-mentor match outcomes

Karcher, M. J., Sass, D. A., Herrera, C., DuBois, D. L., Heubach, J., & Grossman, J. B. (2023). Pathways by which case managers’ match support influences youth mentoring outcomes:Testing the systemic model of youth mentoring. Journal of Community Psychology, 1-22.

Summarized by Megyn Jasman

Notes of Interest:

  • Match support providers in mentoring programs, such as case managers, work closely with mentors to improve mentor-mentee match characteristics as well as outcomes.
  • Mentoring researcher, Professor Thomas Keller, is commonly cited for his work in identifying the ways in which case managers and match support can impact outcomes for mentor-mentee matches.
    • Keller proposed that case managers can influence such outcomes both directly and indirectly. 
  • The current study examines these direct and indirect influences of case manager match support on mentoring outcomes, specifically for:
    • Match closeness, and 
    • Match length
  • Findings indicated that the quality of match support directly influenced the length of mentor-mentee matches.
    • This finding suggests that match support may impact match length in other ways that have yet to be researched. 
  • Findings also indicated that match support indirectly influenced the length of mentor-mentee matches, specifically through mentoring interactions.
    • In other words, this indirect influence of match support on match length occurred by:
      • increasing the matches’ focus on the mentees’ interest.
      • increasing the matches’ focus on growth or goals.
      • increasing mentor-mentee match closeness. 
  • Interestingly, quality of match support was not directly related to a matches’ focus on growth or goals.
    • Instead, quality of match support was related to a focus on the mentees’ interest. And in turn, this mentee-orientation was related to goal-orientation. 
  • Supervisors’ perceptions of match support quality from case managers did not predict mentor-mentee match interactions nor closeness. 
    • Karcher et al. argue that additional assessments of match support should be taken into consideration rather than just the supervisors’ perceptions. 
  • Karcher et al. argue that case managers may provide various forms of match support, some which contribute to increased match closeness and length. 

Introduction (Reprinted from the Abstract)

Keller’s systemic model of youth mentoring posits there are multiple pathways through which all stakeholders in the youth mentoring process, including the program staff who support the match (or case managers), influence youth outcomes. This study examines case managers’ direct and indirect contributions to match outcomes and tests how transitive interactions facilitate a theorized sequence of mentoring interactions to effect greater closeness and length, specifically in nontargeted mentoring programs. A structural equations model of case manager contributions to match outcomes was tested using data from 758 mentor-mentee matches, supported by 73 case managers across seven mentoring agencies. Results reveal direct effects of mentor-reported match support quality on match length and indirect influences on match length through increasing youth‐centeredness, goal-focused orientation, and closeness. The findings confirm the presence of multiple pathways of influence, including indirect effects on outcomes via transitive interactions in match support that scaffold youth‐centeredness and goal‐focused inter-actions in the match. Findings also suggest supervisors’ evaluations of case managers may provide little information about how match support influences the nature of mentor–mentee interactions.

Implications (Reprinted from the Conclusion)

These findings provide some of the first quantitative evidence of the multiple ways in which case managers can foster the strength and length of mentoring matches by increasing  youth-centered and goal-focused interactions in matches. Key was the confirmation that match support made indirect contributions to match length through increasing the  youth‐centeredness in matches. The indirect effect of match support on match length occurred by fostering higher‐quality match interactions that contributed to closeness, thereby propelling the benefits of case managers’ match support onto match length. While youth‐centeredness and goal‐focused mentoring interactions were the main propellers of youth‐reported closeness, both roads to effecting strength and length started with fostering youth‐centeredness. The relationship between match support quality and goal‐focused communications depended on youth‐centeredness. Match support quality had no association with goal‐focused interactions except through its association with youth‐centeredness. The contribution of goal‐focused interactions to match length depended on the degree of closeness youth experienced in the match. Overall, however, these findings support the idea that more capable case managers provide unique and varied forms of support that each contribute to higher‐quality and longer‐lasting matches.

To access this article, click here.