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Pathways to Success: How Case Managers’ Match Support Impacts Youth Mentoring 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.

Summarized by Saniya Soni

About this Study

Randomized studies have demonstrated improvements in various aspects of youths’ lives, such as increased school connectedness, scholastic efficacy, educational aspirations, and positive outcomes in adulthood, including lower likelihood of arrest and higher postsecondary pursuits. However, the specific processes and programmatic support that contribute to these outcomes remain unclear. One model (Keller, 2005), proposes there are multiple pathways through which various stakeholders involved in youth mentoring, including program staff who provide match support (i.e., case managers), can influence the outcomes for youth in mentoring programs. The purpose of the study was to explore the influence of match support provided by case managers on the quality and duration of mentoring relationships. 

Key Findings: 

  • Supervisor-rated support effectiveness of case managers significantly predicted match support reported by mentors, but only accounted for a small percentage of the variance in mentors’ reports.
  • Match support quality and match closeness were significant predictors of match length, while supervisor-rated support did not have a significant impact. 
  • Match support quality was also shown to influence the nature of communications between mentors and mentees, affecting youth-centeredness and goal-focused interactions in the mentoring relationship.
  • Match support quality influenced match closeness and length indirectly through youth-centeredness and goal-focused interactions. 
  • Match support quality influenced match length through two pathways, involving increased youth-centeredness and match closeness, however the indirect effects were marginally significant, mainly due to the relatively small association between match support and youth-centeredness.

Implications for Mentoring

These findings emphasize the vital role of match support quality provided by case managers in influencing the strength and duration of mentoring relationships. Programs should prioritize training case managers to be genuinely concerned about match success, offer useful suggestions for mentor-mentee activities, and foster a supportive bond with mentors. The concept of transitive interactions highlights how match support indirectly shapes mentor-mentee interactions, underlining the importance of establishing youth-centered connections before introducing goal-focused activities. Ongoing professional development should focus on supporting mentor-mentee interactions and communicating the value of connecting before correcting. Striking a balance between promoting closeness and providing adequate support can optimize the positive impact of mentoring relationships on youth. 

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