Have you ever wondered how Big Brothers Big Sisters makes mentor/mentee matches? Our Service Delivery team works hard to make the best Big/Little matches possible. Each step of the process helps ensure match satisfaction, success, and child safety. This two-part blog series will explain the matching process from beginning to end. You can find part one of this series here.
PHASE THREE: INTENTIONAL MATCHING
A team of Enrollment Specialists (ES) and Mentoring Relationship Specialists (MRS) review the files of Bigs and Littles who are ready to be matched twice a month.
There is no random pairing of mentors and mentees! By reading through each file thoroughly and assessing the unique interests, preferences, and personalities of each potential Big and Little, the team is able to make each match. BBBS refers to this process as “intentional matching.”
Potential matches are all thought through carefully. The team makes sure each Big and Little who are paired have something in common or another foundation upon which to build their friendship, whether that’s a love of sports, animals, nature, theater, computer games, cooking, you name it. Youth who love baking could be matched with an adult who makes amazing cakes, for example. This focus and care help ensure match quality and longevity.
PHASE FOUR: MATCH APPROVAL
When a potential match is made (or pre-matched, as we call it) they are assigned to an MRS who will walk alongside them from the beginning.
The MRS first reaches out to the Big and shares information with them about their potential Little. During this conversation, they discuss the Little’s personality, interests, and why they would make a great match. The Big has the opportunity to accept or deny the match.
Once a Big confirms they would like to move forward with the Little the MRS has presented to them, the MRS reaches out to the Little and their parent/guardian. Similar to the conversation they have with the Big, the MRS shares information with the parent/guardian and Little about the personality of the Big, their interests, and why they would make a great match. The parent/guardian and Little also have the opportunity to accept or deny the match.
Once the parent/guardian and Little have accepted the Big, the MRS notifies the Big, and schedules their Match Meeting!
The Match Meeting is the first time the Big, Little, parent/guardian, and MRS meet. Undoubtedly, there is some nervous energy about meeting a new person. There are many opportunities during the first meeting to chat and get to know one another.
At the beginning of the meeting, the MRS leads an ice breaker to help ease any nerves. The guidelines and ground rules are discussed, and the MRS provides any clarification about the expectations. Additionally, any paperwork that needs to be completed is taken care of during this meeting, including an emergency contact form for the Little- just in case! Finally, everyone works together to identify goals– what we call the Youth Outcome Development Plan.
You might have seen these goals in new match stories we share on the blog. Keep an eye out now that you know exactly how it all happens!
After goal setting, the MRS encourages the parent/guardian and the Big to discuss their scheduling preferences, as well as how they prefer to communicate with one another.
Finally, the group works together to schedule the new match’s very first match outing! The match is official!
After two weeks, the MRS reaches out to the Little, Big, and parent/guardian to see how things are going. After that, the MRS checks in with each of them monthly to complete what we call Match Support. There is an open invitation for them to reach out to their MRS at any time.
This monthly outreach to each party continues for the first year of the new match, and then slightly decreases in frequency thereafter. BBBS staff are truly there to help Little, Big, and parent/guardian build a friendship that helps the Little realize their potential!
Ready to take the plunge and become a Big? Find a quiet spot and get started with the 15 minute application here. It doesn’t save, so make sure you’ve got a bit of time to focus. We can’t wait to connect!