Nurturing Success: The Power of Caregiver-Mentor Collaboration in Youth Mentoring

Reference: Parnes, M. F., Herrera, C., Keller, T. E., Tanyu, M., Jarjoura, G. R., & Schwartz, S. E. (2023). Formal youth mentoring relationships in the context of risk: What is the role of caregiver–mentor collaboration?. Journal of Community Psychology.

Summarized by: Ellen Parry Luff

About the Study

Caregivers play a pivotal role in shaping and sustaining mentoring relationships, as they often share preferences for mentor characteristics, participate in match compatibility assessments, and continue to provide supervision and support throughout the relationship’s duration. However, the level and nature of caregiver involvement can vary widely, influenced by factors like their perception of the mentor’s ability to benefit their child, the child’s individual risk factors, and the environmental risks faced by the family. Previous research has highlighted how collaborative relationships between caregivers and mentors are essential for successful mentoring outcomes, as they help to mediate the impact of risk factors on relationship quality. The study is performed utilizing data from a large-scale evaluation of the Mentoring Enhancement Demonstration Program (MEDP). This evaluation looked at the effects of enhanced programming which provided additional training to mentors as compared to a control. The data was analyzed using quantitative measures. The findings aim to shed light on how caregiver and mentor relationships can be nurtured to enhance the impact of formal mentoring programs on young people’s lives. 

Key Findings:

  • Caregiver-mentor collaboration positively impacted mentoring relationship outcomes both in terms of quality and longevity. 
  • Mentor backing of caregivers was positively associated with increased caregiver perceptions of mentors advocating for youth.
  • There was found to be no significant effects of risk with the only direct association with relationship quality being between individual youth risk and increased positive caregiver perceptions of how mentors supported positive youth behavior.
  • Counter to prior research, presence of greater environmental risk did not have direct effects on the quality of mentoring relationships. However greater environmental risk was associated with increased caregiver involvement in the mentoring relationship which was associated with improved relationship quality. 

Implications for Mentoring

This study underscores the importance of actively involving caregivers in mentoring relationships and has a number of implications. In particular findings suggest that mentors who are skilled at creating relationships with youth may also be skilled at connecting with caregivers and thus further exploring such dynamics are an important next step. The study also notes that caregivers of youth experiencing higher levels of environmental risk may be more likely to collaborate with mentors though they also note that more research is needed before drawing conclusions. Additionally looking both at prior research and the studies findings the researchers suggest that additional efforts to support families facing environmental stressors may result in a greater sense of collaboration. Overall, this study sheds light on the pivotal role of caregiver involvement and collaboration in mentoring relationships. Programs should prioritize supporting mentors in engaging caregivers and supporting them in the face of stressors by offering targeted training and support.

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