Program practices

Programs that offer adequate infrastructure increase the likelihood that relationships can endure difficult periods (DuBois et al., 2002; Rhodes, 2002). In fact, program practices that support the mentor and relationship (i.e., training for mentors, offering structured activities for mentors and youth, having high expectations for frequency of contact, and monitoring of overall program implementation) produce stronger positive effects.

These practices, which speak to a program’s ability to not only match mentors and youths but also sustain those matches, converge with the beneficial practices identified by other researchers. Unfortunately, moving youths off long wait lists can sometimes take priority over creating high-quality matches. Even among the growing number of programs with careful recruitment, screening, and matching, a relatively smaller proportion devote themselves to in-depth training of volunteers or ongoing support to the mentors. Cost, combined with a general reluctance to make demands on volunteers, is the primary obstacle to providing more sustained involvement and infrastructure beyond the initial match.