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‘She was like a mother and a father to me’: searching for the ideal mentor for youth in care: She was like a mother and a father

Article

‘She was like a mother and a father to me’: searching for the ideal mentor for youth in care: She was like a mother and a father

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Abstract

Recent studies of youth in out-of-home placements have indicated that a successful mentoring relationship in care is associated with better emotional, educational and behavioural outcomes in adulthood. The goal of this exploratory qualitative study is to describe the profile of a staff member who is able to establish a meaningful relationship with youth in care through the perspectives of 20 young adults aged 21–26 who left care in Israel. Findings revealed that the staff member who formed meaningful relationships with youth was the staff member who was available to the youth and familiar with their personal backgrounds, who was able to see them as positive and trustworthy and to provide guidance and support from a non-judgmental approach. One of the study's conclusions is that staff members who were able to transform their connection with the youth into mentoring relationships were those who were able to make the youth feel as if they were the staff member's own children, and as a result feel cared for deeply and loved. The discussion addresses the barriers in forming a mentoring relationship with a formal professional and the ways to utilize these mentoring relationship components more effectively within the care system.

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... Mentorship can occur naturally when youth develop relationships from their own lives by (family) contacts, in which for example aunts, grand parents or neighbors can be a 'natural' mentor (Ahrens et al., 2008;Cavell et al., 2002). Young people can also have a 'formal' mentor, such as a staff member in the context of a treatment program (Sulimani-Aidan, 2017). Research shows that having an individual mentor is associated with better outcomes of care for youth (Massinga & Pecora, 2004). ...
... Mentoring relationships are associated with positive outcomes of young people, regardless of whether mentorships occur naturally or in the context of treatment (Ahrens et al., 2008). Recent studies of youth in out-of-home placements indicate that a successful mentoring relationship in care is associated with better emotional, educational, and behavioral outcomes in adulthood (Sulimani-Aidan, 2017). ...
... In the context of residential youth care, mentors can fulfill an important role. For example, the study of Sulimani-Aidan (2017) shows that most of the young adults who left residential care in Israel consider the residential staff members as their mentor: the most important, non-parental adult. Staff members who formed meaningful relationships with the youth were available to the youth, familiar with their personal backgrounds, able to see them as positive and trustworthy, and were providing guidance and support from a non-judgmental approach. ...
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Background In residential youth care, group care workers and teachers often serve as a mentor for individual adolescents. Although favorable mentoring relationships are associated with positive adolescent outcomes, few studies examined the role of mentoring in residential youth care. Objective The present study aims to assess adolescents’, care workers’ and teachers’ mentoring relationship needs in terms of their one-on-one conversations during residential care. Methods We conducted structured interviews with eleven adolescents, ten group care workers and two teachers and content analysis to assess the data Results All respondents are rather satisfied with their conversations, which are often concerned with how the adolescent is doing. Adolescents mostly consider their family and home-situation as difficult topics, while care workers mostly consider sexuality as a difficult topic to talk about. Although ‘improvement’ with the youth is often the aim, most adolescents report that they do not (know if they) show changes because of these conversations. Moreover, only one of the twelve professionals thinks that it is his core task to achieve behavior change with the adolescents. According to the professionals, conversations often aim at building a good relationship, coaching, determining treatment goals, and gaining insight into the adolescent. Adolescents prefer a mentor who is calm, has respect, listens, and is reluctant in giving advice. Most professionals do not use a specific method and doubt whether they want to have conversations according to a manual or support tool. Conclusions Despite being rather satisfied, adolescents and professionals indicate several points for improvement of one-on-one conversations.
... The literature on mentoring relationships among at-risk youth suggests that the enduring presence of at least one caring and committed adult may be beneficial to their development in many aspects of adult life (Ahrens, DuBois, Richardson, Fan, & Lozano, 2008;Greeson, 2013;Sulimani-Aidan, 2016b). The few studies that investigated mentoring relationships among youth in out-ofhome settings found that mentoring relationships in care were associated with better emotional, educational, and behavioral outcomes in adulthood (e.g., Ahrens et al., 2008;Spencer, Collins, Ward, & Smashnaya, 2010). ...
... The mentoring literature suggests that different components of the mentoring process-including the type of mentoring relationship (i.e., natural vs. professional mentoring), its quality and longevity, and the various functions it serves (e.g., provision of warmth or promotion of autonomy)-all play a role in determining its effectiveness (Greeson, Usher, & Grinstein-Weiss, 2010;Rhodes, Spencer, Keller, Liang, & Noam, 2006;Sulimani-Aidan, 2016a, 2016b. Thus, it has been suggested that longer duration with the mentor and strong emotional connectedness are linked to better outcomes (Spencer, 2006;Sulimani-Aidan, 2016b). ...
... The mentoring literature suggests that different components of the mentoring process-including the type of mentoring relationship (i.e., natural vs. professional mentoring), its quality and longevity, and the various functions it serves (e.g., provision of warmth or promotion of autonomy)-all play a role in determining its effectiveness (Greeson, Usher, & Grinstein-Weiss, 2010;Rhodes, Spencer, Keller, Liang, & Noam, 2006;Sulimani-Aidan, 2016a, 2016b. Thus, it has been suggested that longer duration with the mentor and strong emotional connectedness are linked to better outcomes (Spencer, 2006;Sulimani-Aidan, 2016b). Although these components are regarded as essential dimensions in mentoring relationships (Ahrens et al., 2008;Rhodes et al., 2006;Rhodes, Reddy, & Grossman, 2005), no study has examined their differential contribution to hopeful thinking among youth in care. ...
... Studies have found that RCS staff members are often the most available and approachable figures in the lives of young people in care because of their frequent interactions with them and their potential to provide them with various forms of social support (Jones, Landsverk, & Roberts, 2007;Lanctot, Lemieux, & Mathys, 2016;Sulimani-Aidan, 2016a, 2016b. However, studies examining the empirical contribution of this relationship to children's well-being while in care are scarce. ...
... Although only a few studies have explored the extent of staff support among children and adolescents in residential care, findings from studies of adolescents in care, care leavers, and care staff suggest certain key ingredients for developing significant and constructive relationships. RCS staff should have professional skills, knowledge, and competence, and they should be genuine, trustworthy, caring, and approachable (e.g., Cahill et al., 2016;Harder, Knorth, & Kalverboer, 2012;Moore, McArthur, Death, Tilbury, & Roche, 2018;Sulimani-Aidan, 2016a). ...
... Social support is a key factor in enhancing children's and adolescents' development in the community and in out-of-home settings (Attar-Schwartz & Fridman-Teutsch, 2018;Brenann, 2008;Chu et al., 2010;Pinchover & Attar-Schwartz, 2012). RCS staff plays an important role in providing social support and meaningful relationships to children and youth in their care (Harder, Knorth, & Kalverboer, 2012;Lanctot, Lemieux, & Mathys, 2016;Sulimani-Aidan, 2016a, 2016b. In this study, we investigated the contribution of RCS staff support to adolescents' emotional and behavioral adjustment among a large-scale sample of 1,409 adolescents, in grades 8 to 12, residing in 16 Israeli educational RCSs for adolescents from underprivileged backgrounds. ...
Article
Residential child care workers, acting in loco parentis, are in continuous, daily contact with the children in their care, and as such they are one of the key support providers in their lives. However, there is little research on the extent of the support and contribution they make to the children’s well-being. This study examines the link between perceived staff social support and emotional and behavioral adjustment difficulties of adolescents in educational residential care settings (RCSs) designed for youth from underprivileged backgrounds in Israel. It also examines the moderating role of adolescents’ length of stay in the RCS in the link between staff support and adolescent adjustment. The study includes the reports of a random cluster sample of 1,409 adolescents in grades 8 to 12, residing in 16 Israeli educational RCSs. The adolescents reported an average of medium to high level of staff support. Being female, Israeli-born, and perceiving greater parental support were found to be positively correlated with perceived staff support. Staff support was associated negatively with adolescent adjustment difficulties, above and beyond the contribution of parents’ support. A significant interaction was found between length of stay and staff support in predicting adjustment difficulties. Specifically, among adolescents residing for longer periods in the RCS, there was a stronger link between staff support and fewer adjustment difficulties. The findings have implications for residential care policy and practice, especially regarding the need to strengthen the role of child care staff as a social support system for children and adolescents in residential care.
... Staff's central role in the lives of youth in care also became evident from young adults' perspectives in earlier studies in Israel. For example, retrospective studies showed that all young adults who left care had staff members with whom they had formed a meaningful relationship (Sulimani-Aidan, 2016). In addition, separation from staff was perceived as one of the most difficult challenges in transition from care to independent living (Sulimani-Aidan, 2014). ...
... The young adults' former counselors were also the ones with whom they stayed in contact years after leaving care. Staff's important role in the lives of youth in care was evident in earlier studies, both as a type of social support and as mentors serving as role models in addition to or as substitutes for their parents (Ahrens, DuBois, Richardson, Fan, & Lozano, 2008;Greeson, Usher, & Grinstein-Weiss, 2010;Sulimani-Aidan, 2016). However, compared with other countries, the unique organizational structure of educational settings in Israel leads to a much more dominant role of the social counselors, as our findings suggest. ...
... Consequently, mentoring is increasingly attracting the attention of researchers and practitioners. However, many questions remain concerning the identity of the mentors available to care leavers and the effects they have on their lives in care and after emancipation (Sulimani-Aidan, 2016b). This study explored the role mentoring relationships play in the lives of young adults who left residential care settings in Israel and the way these relationships influenced their life course. ...
... Other characteristics of the mentor, such as their availability and approachability, were found to be among the most important characteristics for youth in care. These youth also emphasized their need for a role model who provides guidance and support, and acts like a family member who shares with the youth meaningful mutual relationships (Munson et al., 2010;Sulimani-Aidan, 2016b). ...
Article
Mentoring relationships are considered among the most significant relationships with nonparental figures and a protective factor against a wide range of negative outcomes. This exploratory study explored mentoring relationships in the lives of 140 care leavers, and the way those relationships influenced their life course. Findings showed that most of the mentors were known to the young adults from their former care placement for 3 years and above. Thematic analysis revealed 2 main “types” of mentor: (1) a present, accessible and supportive mentor, who is mainly characterized as a parental figure and a role model, a life coach who is also a confidant; (2) a motivating and catalyzing mentor, who is characterized as promoting adaptive coping with life stressors, and leading the young adults to set and achieve their goals and change their behavioral and mental status for the better. The discussion addresses the contribution of mentoring relationships to the young adults’ resilience in reference to social support and attachment theories. It discusses the importance of promoting a “mentoring policy” within the residential care settings, to enable youth to continue their relationships with their mentors during their challenging transition to emerging adulthood.
... The mentoring literature suggests that different components in the mentoring process including quality, longevity, and type of relationships (natural vs. assigned mentor) play a role in their effectiveness Greeson et al., 2010;Rhodes, Spencer, Keller, Liang, & Noam, 2006;Sulimani-Aidan, 2016a, 2016b. However, earlier studies that examined the relationship between mentoring and outcomes among youth in care included only some of the dimensions of the relationships (e.g., specific function and duration) rather than the various array of characteristics that define these relationships. ...
... Although the presence of a mentor has been established as possibly promoting better outcomes after emancipation (Sulimani-Aidan, 2016b), most previous mentoring studies examine only specific aspects of the mentoring relationships. According to mentoring theory, the process of creating positive change in the youths' lives involves mentors serving different functions in the relationship and acting as parental figures, role models, and life coaches (Ahrens et al., 2008;Greeson et al., 2010;Greeson & Bowen, 2008;Sulimani-Aidan, 2016a, 2016b. Thus far, no study has explored the differential contribution of each of the documented mentoring functions in relation to the life skills of youth in care. ...
Article
The goal of this study was to examine the contribution of natural mentoring to the improvement of life skills among youth in care in core areas of education, employment, and avoidance of risk behaviours while controlling for personal characteristics and placement history. The sample includes 174 adolescents in residential care in Israel. Results showed that mentoring duration and mentoring functions including mentor as “role model,” “parental figure,” and “independence promoter” significantly contributed to the prediction of the three life skills above and beyond control variables. This study highlights both the array of meaningful roles mentors play in youth's development of life skills and identifies important practice implications regarding the mechanism by which mentoring relationships contribute to the resilience of adolescents.
... De esta manera, los programas de tutorías evidencian efectos positivos en los jóvenes tales como el logro de actitudes de motivación prosocial, habilidades de relaciones sociales, resultados de emociones psicológicas y comportamiento y funcionamiento académico (Thompson, Greeson & Brunsink, 2016). También los jóvenes valoran que existan profesionales disponibles con los que puedan mantener relaciones significativas, a las que conciben como análogas a las relaciones familiares tras abandonar el Sistema de Protección independientemente de la estabilidad que tengan en la vivienda (Furey & Harris-Evans, 2021;Sulimani-Aidan, 2017). ...
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Las investigaciones nacionales e internacionales han evidenciado los retos a los que tienen que enfrentarse la juventud tutelada y extutelada cuando alcanzan la mayoría de edad. Los programas de apoyo a la transición a la vida adulta reportan resultados positivos en los jóvenes que se encuentran en esta etapa. Sin embargo, son necesarias las evaluaciones continuas de estos recursos. Esta investigación tiene como objetivo evidenciar las potencia-lidades y los retos del programa de Alta Intensidad Mayoría de Edad +18 de la Junta de An-dalucía (España) que desarrolla una entidad sevillana, un recurso que no ha sido evaluado de manera exhaustiva en sus 20 años de recorrido. Para ello, se realizaron entrevistas semies-tructuradas a 19 profesionales (orientadores, directores, educadores e informantes clave) y 7 jóvenes con trayectorias de éxito egresados del programa. Los resultados muestran que las potencialidades del programa son la valoración positiva del mismo, el proceso de acom-pañamiento socioeducativo y la capacitación social, académica y laboral de los jóvenes.
... Regarding previous research on this topic, fields investigated include the nature of support, such as types of support that young people in care seek and receive (Höjer and Sjöblom 2010;Singer et al. 2013), and the provision of support (Collins et al. 2010;Hiles et al. 2013). Additionally, specific relationships such as relations with the birth family (Hiles et al. 2013), with foster carers (Lo et al. 2015) and with staff (Strolin-Goltzman et al. 2016;Sulimani-Aidan 2016) have been examined. The role of natural mentors has also been studied and is seen as a promising way to smooth the process to independency for former foster youth . ...
... Later research focused on identifying the factors and processes that could lead to these good mentoring outcomes. Mainly the quality of the mentoring relationship, the mentors' and mentees' characteristics, and the mechanisms with which they work to lead to positive development and change (Karcher, Nakkula & Harris 2005;Rhodes, Reddy, Roffman, & Grossman, 2005;Sulimani-Aidan, 2016, 2018. In her model, Rhodes et al. (2005) suggested that a mentor-mentee relationship bond is formed through trust, empathy and mutual benefit, which eventually produce improvements in the youth's socio-emotional, cognitive, and identity development. ...
Article
This exploratory study examines the barriers, challenges and needs of 30 caseworkers who mentor at-risk young adults during the transition to adulthood. Professional mentoring relationships are an important source of support for at-risk young people. However, literature concerning the mentoring relationship from the perspective of the mentors is scarce. The theoretical thematic analysis revealed two major themes. The first theme- included challenges related to the young adults’ personal histories and characteristics. The second major theme related to the mentors’ expertise within their own services. The most dominant needs during the mentoring process were broad and current knowledge and ongoing training and support. The findings are discussed in relation to the mentoring literature and emerging adulthood theory. Implications for practice highlight the importance of the design and assimilation of programs that enable the promotion of meaningful mentoring relationships via organisational modifications.
... For mentoring to be successful, it is desirable for mentors to have a good understanding of their mentees' actiotopes, which include the mentee, their environment, and their interactions with their environment. 64,70,71 Mentors need to have an overview of which relevant processes are already regulated with regard to the mentoring objectives and how well these processes are orchestrated. In other words, they need to know which activities within the actiotope of their mentees form a functional regulatory network of processes to reach the mentoring objectives. ...
Article
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A review of the literature on the effectiveness of mentoring reveals a paradox: on the one hand, there is evidence that mentoring can be highly effective. On the other hand, meta‐analyses usually only show small to moderate effect sizes, and sometimes even negative effects. To better understand this mentoring paradox, we discuss three fundamental problems in mentoring research. We propose working definitions and theoretical premises to overcome these problems. We apply various systemic concepts to the field of mentoring that might help to resolve the mentoring paradox. We introduce mentees’ actiotopes and their interaction with other systems as the unit of analysis, and the regulations for which mentors are responsible for in the context of mentoring as the categories of analysis. To systemize and elaborate on the regulatory dimensions of mentoring, we introduce the nonagonal framework of regulation in mentoring (NFR‐M). To facilitate the analysis of ongoing changes caused by mentoring and therefore a dynamic understanding of mentoring, we introduce the concept of spaces of possibilities in mentoring (M‐spaces). Finally, we introduce the concepts of the Athena Mentor to explain why mentors can differ so dramatically in the effectiveness of the regulations they are responsible for in the context of mentoring. We conclude by describing how mentoring comparisons based on the NFR‐M, mentors’ regulatory insight, regulatory power, and M‐spaces can help to resolve the mentoring paradox. The literature on the effectiveness of mentoring reveals a paradox: there is evidence that mentoring can be highly effective, but meta‐analyses usually only show small to moderate effect sizes. To better understand this mentoring paradox, we discuss three fundamental problems in mentoring research. We propose working definitions and theoretical premises to overcome these problems. We apply various systemic concepts to the field of mentoring that might help to resolve the mentoring paradox.
... They specifically valued guidance from adults who attempt to gradually convince them to have confidence in their own abilities. Sulimani-Aidan (2017b) showed that students perceive their mentors to be supportive when they follow a non-judgmental guiding approach. Encouragement and constructive criticism have also been found to be of value for mentees in professional contexts, as reported in a review of over 300 studies in contexts of education, medicine, and business by Ehrich et al. (2004). ...
Article
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Background Mentors guide students in their challenges at school and in life. At-risk students in last-resort programs who are at a high risk of leaving school unqualified are especially in need of highly competent and adaptive mentors. This study therefore aimed to identify mentor qualities as perceived by at-risk students and their mentors that meet students’ needs and mentors’ capabilities. Methods Face-to-face individual semi-structured interviews were conducted with students and mentors of two specialized programs in the Netherlands. Sensitizing concepts, derived from literature, were used to identify themes. Data analysis was conducted using thematic analyses and was validated by performing an audit. Results The mentor qualities that at-risk students and their mentors reported were classified in three different themes. Mentor tasks consisted of guiding and motivating students and providing them with tangible methods of support. Relationships between mentor and student were based on levels of respect, equality, and bonding. Characteristics of mentors related to empathy, care, and trust. Research implications Emotional responsiveness deserves further exploration as it appears to be an underlying concept of being a good mentor. Future research might explore mentor qualities in the context of other last-resort programs for at-risk students. Practical implications Findings implicate that mentors have to walk a tightrope between keeping professional distance and being sensitive, suggesting constant attention to their professional development is needed. Originality In the context of last-resort programs, an alternative perspective on mentoring at-risk students is outlined, based on perceptions of both students and mentors.
... V případě využití dospělého mentora u mladých dospělých opouštějících ústavní a ochrannou výchovu byly pozorovány pozitivní efekty na zdraví (včetně duševní kondice), dále menší pravděpodobnost rizikového chování (např. nechráněný sex či trestná činnost) a také menší riziko bezdomovectví (Sulimani-Aidan, 2017a, 2017b, 2018a, 2018bSulimani-Aidan & Melkman, 2018). Jiní autoři jsou v hodnocení vlivu mentorství opatrnější. ...
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The presented text takes the form of a theoretical study. The aim of this study is to present how the concept of social support can be used for young adults leaving residential care to facilitate their return to the natural social environment. The introduction describes the current state of deinstitutionalization of care for children and adolescents in the Czech Republic. It is followed by the issue of transition, i.e. the period of the young adult's return to the natural social environment. Transition places increased demands on young adults in terms of their social functioning, which can lead to social failure and, in extreme cases, social exclusion; in this context, the text is based on the typology of transition success according to Mike Stein. Furthermore, the study deals with the definition and conceptualization of social support and presents a 5D model of social support accompanied by a model of youth mentoring by Jean Rhodes. The text concludes with the issue of mentoring, with an emphasis on juvenile mentoring, and discusses whether mentoring can be considered the optimal type of social support for young adults in transition.
Article
There are an estimated 21,000 children in Child and Youth Care Centres in South Africa. They come from backgrounds of neglect and abuse. Such experiences in early childhood influence the formation of secure attachments, and may have an effect on relational functioning lifelong. The South African welfare system has adopted the circle of courage as a framework for positive youth development. Child and youth care workers are required to implement the circle of courage in child and youth care centres. The circle of courage has four quadrants; belonging, mastery, independence and generosity. The concept of belonging shares close conceptual links with attachment theory. Little is known about how child and youth care workers develop attachments and belonging with children in their care. This qualitative study, conducted in four child and youth care centres in the Tshwane region of South Africa, presents some techniques used by child and youth care workers to develop belonging. These include creating a welcoming environment, orienting young people to the child and youth care centre, meeting the child’s physiological needs, setting rules and boundaries, verbalizing affection for young people in care, physical contact and explaining the circumstances that brought them together. We conclude that these findings can be used to develop child and youth care training and to operationalize the concept of belonging in child and youth care settings.
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Poor education and employment outcomes have long been associated with care experienced young people transitioning into independence, even after adjusting for prior disadvantage. In the United Kingdom, such young people are generally referred to as care leavers. Policies that aim to reduce the gap between care leavers and non‐care experienced young people's success transitioning to employment and independence have had limited success. This paper draws on a qualitative methodology that utilized theories of resilience, to glean a range of perspectives from both care leavers and their employers. All the participants were engaged in a U.K. local authority's initiative to support care leavers into employment. Drawing on resilience theory, resilience was found to be located in a complex interaction between a resilience enabling environment and, crucially, emotionally supportive networks. Uniquely, we argue that emotional support, drawn from such networks, is the key factor that facilitates young people navigating towards such resources, leading to successful outcomes. Previous studies have underplayed this aspect in favour of more tangible resources. Attention to strengthening emotional support networks is thus identified as a significant factor that supports transition to employment and successful independence for care leavers.
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This paper discusses Romani mentors’ mixed experiences, views and coping practices in an intra-ethnic ‘natural mentoring’ project targeting young Romani (more commonly known as ‘Gypsy’) students in Spain. The intervention transforms already existing intra-ethnic bonds into mentorships in local Spanish Romani communities. To meet the aims of this research, observations were conducted at mentors’ follow-up meetings and other project activities, and individual semi-structured interviews were held with three female and three male mentors. The mentors’ mixed views and experiences are analysed in four dimensions: competence, commitment, project operation and sociocultural change. From a critical stance, the results suggest that mentoring remains highly apolitical, having as its primary object ‘people to be developed’ and not the structure that is to do the developing. In this endeavour, mentoring is instrumentalized to create self-regulated ‘active’ citizens desiring to be acted upon through ‘technologies of the self’.
Thesis
In this PhD-project relationships between several individual characteristics of at-risk youth and vocational identity were explored. Malleable characteristics can be applied by practitioners at schools and community projects to foster the vocational identity of their students. The research explored main effects and moderator effects. Results showed that tailored interventions, attuned to the individual at-risk student, are most promising. A qualitative study investigated which mentor qualities were most valued by students and mentors. The results of this process-oriented study showed that mentors have to balance between emotional proximity and professional distance to create an atmosphere of emotional responsiveness in which their tailored interventions may have their full positive impact. See https://lnkd.in/eRpmbuNq
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Student motivation in high school is a long-standing topic of interest considering the widespread problem of low academic engagement and relatively high dropout rates, which are predicted by low attendance. This prevailing problem is indicative that previous interventions have not been sufficient. One hypothesis is that interventions may be too targeted towards outcomes and neglect what motivation researchers in psychology have learned over decades. Motivation researchers, specifically self-determination theorists, have identified three underlying psychological needs (autonomy, competence, relatedness) that are critical to fostering intrinsic motivation. This study hypothesizes that these needs are not being met in the school setting even when academic interventions are present. This study will explore how a new intervention, The Future Project, that is not directly academic in nature but as a Positive Youth Development program may proactively foster these psychological needs and could be more effective in enhancing high school student academic motivation. The programming includes four facets: building one-on-one relationships between a student and mentor, exposing students to skill building courses, supporting students individually to design projects that they are passionate about and that have an impact on the world in some way, and it develops an intimate team of students who serve as collaborative leaders in their schools to support each other and their peers in self-reflection or personal project development. This is a mixed methods phenomenological study using secondary data analysis of student and alumni interviews, principal and teacher surveys, and teacher interviews. All data was collected by The Future Project in Spring 2016 to explore the student experience when participating in The Future Project programming and to gather feedback from students, teachers, and administrators. This study will use this data to explore how participating in The Future Project may contribute to fulfilling students’ needs of autonomy, competence, and relatedness; and how that influences student academic motivation and engagement, which have previously been determined as precursors to academic achievement; and to illustrate the mechanisms that connect autonomy, competence, and relatedness with academic motivation and engagement.
Thesis
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This dissertation addresses the question to what extent several individual characteristics of youth with vulnerable school careers relate to their vocational identity, that is, how they define themselves as a worker. Malleable characteristics get special attention in this respect, in order to provide practitioners in education and social work with suggestions to improve their actions. In the context of special curricula aimed at these youth, mentors and social workers have individual meetings with their students and pupils. That is why this dissertation also addresses the question to which mentor qualities the at-risk students and their mentors attach most value.
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Thematic analysis is a poorly demarcated, rarely acknowledged, yet widely used qualitative analytic method within psychology. In this paper, we argue that it offers an accessible and theoretically flexible approach to analysing qualitative data. We outline what thematic analysis is, locating it in relation to other qualitative analytic methods that search for themes or patterns, and in relation to different epistemological and ontological positions. We then provide clear guidelines to those wanting to start thematic analysis, or conduct it in a more deliberate and rigorous way, and consider potential pitfalls in conducting thematic analysis. Finally, we outline the disadvantages and advantages of thematic analysis. We conclude by advocating thematic analysis as a useful and flexible method for qualitative research in and beyond psychology.
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Young people who ‘age out of care’ generally do not have the continuing source of emotional, social and financial support that is available to most young people in their transition to early adulthood. They therefore face the challenges of making various transitions with fewer resources and less support, and at an earlier age and in a less graduated way than young people of the same age in the general population. Some, however, manage this process more successfully than others. The current study examines the links between stability, perceived or ‘felt’ security and later outcomes for young people 4–5 years after leaving care. It is based on a four-wave longitudinal study over 5 years of 47 young people leaving care in New South Wales, Australia. Felt security in care, and continuity and social support beyond care were the main significant predictors of these young people’s outcomes 4–5 years after leaving care. While stability in care was important, this may be as a means to an end–building a sense of security, belonging and a network of social support.
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Mentoring is one of the most popular social interventions in American society, with an estimated three million youth in formal one-to-one relationships. Studies have revealed significant associations between youth involvement in mentoring relationships and positive developmental outcomes. These associations are modest, however, and depend on several intervening processes. Centrally important is the formation of close, enduring connections between mentors and youth that foster positive developmental change. Effects of mentoring programs likewise typically have been small in magnitude, but they increase systematically with the use of program practices likely to support relationship development. Gaps between research and practice are evident both in the indiscriminate use of the term mentoring in the prevention field and in a focus on the growth and efficiency of mentoring programs at the expense of quality. Continued expansion of effective mentoring will require a better alignment of research and practice.
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Late adolescent children of alcoholics (COAs) were interviewed about their relationship with a natural mentor. Comparisons in social and emotional functioning were made to a matched sample of COAs who did not have a natural mentor. Results showed that a typical mentor was a same-sex relative who had been responsible for initiating the mentor-like relationship. Mentors' familiarity with adolescents' parents predicted the quality of the mentoring relationships. Differences in the reported adjustment of COAs with and without natural mentors are considered in light of prevention programming and its evaluation.
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Mentoring for youths transitioning out of the foster care system has been growing in popularity as mentoring programs have enjoyed unprecedented growth in recent years. However, the existing empirical literature on the conditions associated with more effective youth mentoring relationships and the potential for harm in their absence should give us pause, as meeting these conditions may be especially challenging when working with transitioning youths. Using the social work professional lens to examine the potential and challenges of mentoring approaches for foster care youths, the authors review the literature on the effectiveness of youth mentoring programs and on the psychosocial outcomes and needs of youths leaving foster care. They offer a set of considerations for maximizing the potential benefits of mentoring for transitioning youths. The authors suggest that although mentoring may serve as an important component of a larger complement of services for transitioning youths, an individual-level intervention such as this does not eliminate the need for more systemic action to meet the many needs of these vulnerable youths.
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Social support is needed by everyone, but particularly by vulnerable populations at times of transition. This study utilizes data collected from 96 former foster youth regarding supports they received during the transition from care. The report addresses three questions: (1) What types of supportive relationships did the sample report? (2) What are the characteristics of supportive relationships? (3) What is the relationship of social support to outcomes? Based on the analysis, the authors draw implications for intervention and research.
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The quality of the relationships that mentors forge with their protégés is assumed to significantly affect the success of mentoring interventions. Building on previous research, this study examined the association between relationship qualities and protégé functioning. Multiple reporters (e.g., mentors, protégés and teachers) were used in a prospective research design spanning eight months in Israel's largest mentoring program-Perach. The sample consisted of 84 protégés ranging in age from 8 to 13 years (M = 10.75). Qualities in the mentoring relationship such as closeness, dependency and unrealistic expectations for the continuation and deepening of the relationship, beyond the planned period, were positively associated with the children's social and academic adjustment, and contributed to perceived academic competence, social support and wellbeing. Generalization of positive mentoring experiences to other relationships (such as the mother-child relationship) and the role of unrealistic expectations and dependency as key elements are considered. Implications of the findings for research and mentoring intervention are discussed.
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We used meta-analysis to review 55 evaluations of the effects of mentoring programs on youth. Overall, findings provide evidence of only a modest or small benefit of program participation for the average youth. Program effects are enhanced significantly, however, when greater numbers of both theory-based and empirically based "best practices" are utilized and when strong relationships are formed between mentors and youth. Youth from backgrounds of environmental risk and disadvantage appear most likely to benefit from participation in mentoring programs. Outcomes for youth at-risk due to personal vulnerabilities have varied substantially in relation to program characteristics, with a noteworthy potential evident for poorly implemented programs to actually have an adverse effect on such youth. Recommendations include greater adherence to guidelines for the design and implementation of effective mentoring programs as well as more in-depth assessment of relationship and contextual factors in the evaluation of programs.
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We used nationally representative data to examine the impact of natural (or informal) mentoring relationships on health-related outcomes among older adolescents and young adults. We examined outcomes from Wave III of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health as a function of whether or not respondents reported a mentoring relationship. Logistic regression was used with control for demographic variables, previous level of functioning, and individual and environmental risk. Respondents who reported a mentoring relationship were more likely to exhibit favorable outcomes relating to education/work (completing high school, college attendance, working >/= 10 hours a week), reduced problem behavior (gang membership, hurting others in physical fights, risk taking), psychological well-being (heightened self-esteem, life satisfaction), and health (physical activity level, birth control use). However, effects of exposure to individual and environmental risk factors generally were larger in magnitude than protective effects associated with mentoring. These findings suggest a broad and multifaceted impact of mentoring relationships on adolescent health. However, mentoring relationships alone are not enough to meet the needs of at-risk youths and therefore should be incorporated into more comprehensive interventions.
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The goal of this study was to determine whether youth in foster care with natural mentors during adolescence have improved young adult outcomes. We used data from waves I to III of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (1994-2002). Individuals who reported that they had ever been in foster care at wave III were included. Youth were considered mentored when they reported the presence of a nonparental adult mentor in their life after they were 14 years of age and reported that the relationship began before 18 years of age and had lasted for at least 2 years. Outcomes were assessed at wave III and included measures of education/employment, psychological well-being, physical health, and participation in unhealthy behaviors as well as a summary measure representing the total number of positive outcomes. A total of 310 youth met the inclusion criteria; 160 youth were mentored, and 150 youth were nonmentored. Demographic characteristics were similar for mentored and nonmentored youth. Mentored youth were more likely to report favorable overall health and were less likely to report suicidal ideation, having received a diagnosis of a sexually transmitted infection, and having hurt someone in a fight in the past year. There was also a borderline significant trend toward more participation in higher education among mentored youth. On the summary measure, mentored youth had, on average, a significantly greater number of positive outcomes than nonmentored youth. CONCLUSIONS; Mentoring relationships are associated with positive adjustment during the transition to adulthood for youth in foster care. Strategies to support natural mentoring relationships for this population should be developed and evaluated.
Article
We used meta‐analysis to review 55 evaluations of the effects of mentoring programs on youth. Overall, findings provide evidence of only a modest or small benefit of program participation for the average youth. Program effects are enhanced significantly, however, when greater numbers of both theory‐based and empirically based “best practices” are utilized and when strong relationships are formed between mentors and youth. Youth from backgrounds of environmental risk and disadvantage appear most likely to benefit from participation in mentoring programs. Outcomes for youth at‐risk due to personal vulnerabilities have varied substantially in relation to program characteristics, with a noteworthy potential evident for poorly implemented programs to actually have an adverse effect on such youth. Recommendations include greater adherence to guidelines for the design and implementation of effective mentoring programs as well as more in‐depth assessment of relationship and contextual factors in the evaluation of programs.
Article
The present study examines the adjustment of youth leaving residential treatment in Israel in three core areas: military service, accommodation, and financial status. A sample of 277 adolescents (aged 17–18 years old) in educational and welfare residential placementswere interviewed a fewmonths before leaving care, and 236 of them were interviewed 1 year after. It was hypothesized that optimism, higher perceived sense of readiness to leave care, and higher social support of family, friends, and staff are associated with better outcomes in adjustment to military service, accommodations, and economic status. Findings show that 70% of care leavers were drafted to the (compulsory) military service, a sign of good adjustment in Israel. Yet, they have significant difficulties in the areas of accommodations and financial status. Optimism and perceived readiness for independent living while still in care were positively correlated with adjustment to the military service. Mother’s support was positively correlated with care leavers’ economic status and stability in accommodations. These findings highlight the importance of designing programs that include specific attention to needs and challenges while youth are in care and immediately after they leave. Follow-up and longitudinal studies are suggested.
Conference Paper
Background Research on the transition to adulthood for foster youth shows them to be at heightened risk for poor adult outcomes (Courtney 2007; Pecora et al 2005), but research on protective factors that may influence these outcomes is lacking. Practitioners have pushed for mentoring programs for foster youth, believing that mentoring can serve as a protective factor (Stein 2006). Research has shown non-parental adults to have positive effects on adolescents (Beier et al 2000; DuBois & Silverthorn 2005; Zimmerman et al 2002), but research on mentoring for foster youth is scarce, results are mixed, and methodological problems abound (Ahrens et al 2008). This study examines the relationship between non-parental mentoring and adult outcomes, hypothesizing that regular contact with a non-parental mentor is associated with improved adult outcomes for former foster youth. Methods The study relies on data from a prospective study of foster youth begun in 2002 in three states, involving three waves of in-person interviews with a random sample of foster youth done when they were 17-18 , 19, and 21 years old respectively. The analyses reported here come from baseline in-person interviews conducted at age 17-18 (n = 732; 95% response rate) and follow-up interviews conducted at age 21 (n = 591; 81% retention rate). Outcomes were assessed at age 21 or during the previous year, depending on the outcome, including: education; employment; economic hardship; public assistance utilization; homelessness; incarceration; social support; life satisfaction; and civic engagement. The independent variable was the young person's report of having had contact several times in the past year with a non-parental mentor with whom the subject had begun a relationship during adolescence. Logistic and OLS regression were used to examine the relationship between mentoring and outcomes, using covariates assessed at baseline (demographic characteristics and a wide range of measures of subject background and functioning). Results 60% (n = 352) of the subjects reported having had a non-parental mentor at some time since age 14 and 73% reported being close to their mentor. Only 5% reported the mentor had come from a mentoring program. Over two-fifths (n = 247) reported an ongoing relationship with a mentor they saw at least several times per year. Regression analyses show an ongoing mentoring relationship to be associated with a greater likelihood that subjects completed some college (OR=2.2), a greater likelihood of current employment (OR=1.7), and greater social support (standardized beta = .3), but with none of the other outcomes. Conclusions Most former foster youth report having had a non-parental mentor at some point since adolescence and many continue to have an ongoing relationship with a mentor. These enduring relationships are associated with some positive outcomes for former foster youth. That few youth report mentoring programs to be the source of these relationships suggests that mentoring programs have yet to have much impact on foster youth. The hopeful findings reported here provide support for continued research on the relationship of mentoring to outcomes for former foster youth and for evaluation of mentoring programs for this population.
Article
The concept of resilience provides a necessary framework for understanding the varied ways in which some children do well in the face of adversity. The debate on resilience in children has shifted from an emphasis on factors to an emphasis on processes and mechanisms and from identifying resilience to promoting resilience. Children in long-term foster-care have experienced a range of early adversities which continue to affect their self-esteem, self-efficacy and capacity to cope with developmental challenges. Risk and protective characteristics in the foster-child, the foster-carers, the birth family and the agencies involved with the child will interact in complex ways to produce upward or downward spirals. This article reports on a longitudinal study of children in long-term foster-care, funded by the Nuffield Foundation. It provides a psychosocial model that links inner and outer worlds, developmental theory and social work practice, to explore why some children appear to be making good progress while others continue to experience multiple developmental difficulties.
Article
Mentoring is widely advocated as an educational experience for academically talented students because mentors may provide stimulation for academic growth and serve as positive role models for students in areas of career interest. This study examined the experiences of 72 talented teenagers attending a university-based summer mentorship program. Students completed pretest and posttest measures assessing self-concept and perceptions of research aptitude; they also shared their perceptions of their mentoring relationships in written journal entries. Results demonstrated increases in students' perceived research skills and job competence; students reported positive relationships with mentors, particularly when they felt that their mentor spent a great deal of time with them and was approachable, friendly, and engaging.
Article
This paper focuses on the health and well-being of young people making the transition from care to independent adulthood. It draws on findings from a wider study of outcomes for young people leaving care in England. Notably, the study used, as its key outcome indicators, measures of general and mental well-being. In doing so, it was able to explore the interrelationship between these areas and young people's overall progress after care. The paper explores the extent to which young people experience difficulties related to physical and mental health, disability and emotional and behavioural problems. It will show that such difficulties can impact upon and be influenced by overall well-being and post-care progress in more traditional outcome areas such accommodation and career, and will suggest that the transition from care itself can adversely affect health and well-being. The paper considers these issues within the context of a changing policy framework which has given increased priority to the health and well-being of young people in and leaving care, particularly in light of the Children (Leaving Care) Act 2000. It considers the ways that young people are supported to address health and well-being and the implications for and impact on leaving care services.
Article
Anecdotal reports of the protective qualities of mentoring relationships for youth are corroborated by a growing body of research. What is missing, however, is research on the processes by which mentors influence developmental outcomes. In this article, we present a conceptual model of the mentoring process along with a delineation of some of the current research on what makes for more effective mentoring relationships. A set of recommendations for future research is offered. © 2006 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
Article
The popularity of mentoring programs for disadvantaged youth is on the rise, but little is known about the processes that underpin successful mentoring relationships. In-depth semistructured interviews were conducted with adolescent and adult pairs who had been in a continuous mentoring relationship for a minimum of I year Using relational theories as the guiding framework, this study examined four relational processes, which are detailed in this article: authenticity, empathy, collaboration, and companionship.
Article
This study compared perceptions of mentoring relationships among early adolescents, middle adolescents, and emerging adults. In ten focus groups, 56 middle school, high school, and college students described relational experiences that were analyzed thematically. Differences in the characteristics of the mentors nominated by the youth across the age groups were noted and five broad themes identified. Three themes were similar across the different age groups: (a) the importance of spending time together and engaging in shared activities, (b) trust and fidelity, and (c) role modeling and identification. Two themes were present in the narratives of all three age groups but played out differently in ways that were consistent with developmental issues and needs of that age group: (a) balancing connection and autonomy and (b) empowerment. These data can help guide future research and practice involving youth mentoring relationships across developmental and disciplinary divides.
Article
Youth in transition from out-of-home care to adulthood are a vulnerable sub-population of the foster care system. In addition to the trauma of maltreatment, and challenges associated with out-of-home care, these youth face the premature and abrupt responsibility of self-sufficiency as they leave care for independent living. The purpose of this study was to identify personal and interpersonal factors that contribute to resilience of young adults who left out-of-home care of a large urban child welfare system during a one year period. Sixty percent of the eligible young adults participated in a computer-assisted self-administered interview about their self-sufficiency including: educational attainment, employment, housing, parenthood, health risk behavior, criminal activity, and perceived levels of social support, spiritual support, community support, and global life stress. This study explored the relationship between support systems, life stress, and the young adults' resilience reflecting key outcomes. The study's findings indicated that females, older youth, and youth with lower perceived life stress had higher resilience scores. Implications for child welfare practice, policy, theory, and research advance knowledge about young adults in transition from out-of-home care.
Article
The purpose of this study was to explore the nature of the non-kin natural mentoring relationships among 19-year-old youths (NÂ =Â 189) in the process of "aging out" of the foster care system. Data for the present study are from the final interview of a longitudinal study of older youth exiting the foster care system in Missouri. Participants that reported a natural mentoring relationship at age 19 were asked a series of qualitative questions about their reported relationship. The sample in this study was 65% female and 58% youth of color. Thematic analysis, informed by relational-cultural theory (Miller & Stiver, 1997), was utilized to explore the nature of the relationships from the youth's perspective. These youth reported having natural mentors who served in a range of roles in their lives, including youth service professionals and friends of their families. These older youth also described the (a) qualities of their natural mentors that were important to them, (b) specific features of their natural mentoring relationships that they perceived to be especially helpful, and (c) the various kinds of support these relationships had offered to them. Implications for social work policy, practice, and research are discussed.
Article
This chapter employs a conceptual framework based on the relationship constructs of power and permanence to distinguish the special hybrid nature of mentoring relationships relative to prototypical vertical and horizontal relationships common in the lives of mentor and mentee. The authors note that mentoring occurs in voluntary relationships among partners with unequal social experience and influence. Consequently, mentoring relationships contain expectations of unequal contributions and responsibilities (as in vertical relationships), but sustaining the relationships depends on mutual feelings of satisfaction and commitment (as in horizontal relationships). Keller and Pryce apply this framework to reveal the consistency of findings across several qualitative studies reporting particular interpersonal patterns in youth mentoring relationships. On a practical level, they suggest that the mentor needs to balance the fun, interest, and engagement that maintain the relationship with the experienced guidance, structure, and support that promote the growth and well-being of the mentee.
Article
This study explores the non-kin natural mentoring relationships among a group of older youth in foster care (n=339), particularly whether or not their relationships last over time. The study also examines the associations between non-kin natural mentoring relationships and psychosocial outcomes among these older youth. Results of simultaneous and hierarchical regression analyses reveal that the presence of a mentor and the duration of the relationship at age 18 are associated with better psychological outcomes, such as fewer depression symptoms, less stress and more satisfaction with life at 18 1/2. Longitudinal data collected at age 18 and 19 on mentoring revealed that of the 339 youth, 25% (n=85) reported no mentor at either data point, 41% (n=139) reported a short term mentor, and 34% (n=115) reported a long term mentoring relationship. After controlling for potential covariates, multivariate analyses revealed that compared to those youth that did not nominate a mentor, youth in long term natural mentoring relationships reported less stress and were less likely to have been arrested at age 19. Further, being in long term natural mentoring relationships was not related to current employment, or past year alcohol and marijuana use. Implications for transitioning foster care youth are discussed.
Article
This study examines the retrospective reports of alumni of Israeli group homes on their experiences of leaving care, taking into account possible gender differences as well as associations with their experiences while in care. The reports of 94 alumni (38 men and 56 women) interviewed by phone revealed major difficulties associated with the transition from the group home. About half perceived their transition from care as "quite hard" or "very hard". A fifth reported having no one to talk to during the first period of leaving care. Generally, the transition was more difficult for girls than boys. The longer the alumni (especially boys) stayed in care, the more difficult they found the transition to independent living. Better relationships between the child and the group-home parents while in care were associated with a more difficult transition to independent living. This study highlights the need for longer and more extensive preparation for leaving out-of-home care.
Social–Educational Work in Israel
  • E. Grupper
  • S. Romi
The state of the child in Israel
National Council for the Child (2009). The state of the child in Israel. Jerusalem (Hebrew).
Mentoring relationships and adult outcomes for foster youth in transition to adulthood. Paper session presented at the 13th annual meeting of the
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Courtney, M.E. & Lyons, S. (2009, January). Mentoring relationships and adult outcomes for foster youth in transition to adulthood. Paper session presented at the 13th annual meeting of the Society for Social Work and Research, New Orleans, LA.
Training workers in socialeducational fields
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Grupper, E. & Romi, S. (2011) Training workers in socialeducational fields. In: Social-Educational Work in Israel (ed. H. Aharoni). Advance, Jerusalem.
Foster care youth with adult mentors during adolescence have improved adult outcomes
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