Supervision of Mentoring Programs
Assemblyman Steven Sanders
there are countless mentoring programs run by social service,
academic, health and community institutions which match youngsters
with caring adult volunteers. These adults serve as positive role
models and provide extra support, guidance and friendship in a
young person’s life. An increasing body of research shows that
one-to-one relationships between volunteers and youth can dramatically
change a child’s life for the better. Mentoring has been shown
to be highly effective in improving young persons’ grades and
attendance, boosting self-esteem and helping them steer clear
of trouble with the law.
However, the quality of mentoring can fluctuate widely between
programs, and parents should have the option of selecting programs,
if they wish, where the supervisor has earned State certification.
For that reason, I have introduced legislation backed by a coalition
of over 50 nonprofit organizations throughout the state—led by
Big Brothers Big Sisters of NYC—to create a State certification
for qualified supervisors of mentoring programs. Similar legislation
has been introduced in the State Senate by Senator Randy Kuhl
Not surprisingly, research shows that children do better when
there is at least one person in their life who takes an interest
and is there to listen. In today’s fast-paced world, an increasing
number of children are met with the challenge of not having enough
caring adults in their lives. A century ago, society began to
change the way it thinks about providing guidance to young people
in need through the creation of formalized mentoring programs.
I believe that the professional training that mentor supervisors
would receive is the best way to achieve lasting relationships
between carefully screened and trained mentors and the adolescents
that they guide. In addition, a certificate will provide parents,
volunteers and funders of programs the ability to select programs
which are run by trained and qualified staff.
To earn State certification, individuals will be required to take
course work and gain fieldwork experience in supervising mentoring
relationships. The course work curriculum will be based on best
mentoring practices and include program management topics such
as intake, screening, recruitment and evaluation.
As mentoring programs continue to grow, the time has come for
our state to provide a certification opportunity for program supervisors,
to help ensure the professionalism of the programs and serve as
an added level of reassurance for parents.
Sanders is Chairman, NYS Assembly Education Committee.
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