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Promising Practices for Improving the Match Outcomes of Young Children: An Evaluation of the School-Based Literacy-Enhanced Mentoring (LEM) Program

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Background Recent research suggests that instrumental relationship styles can enhance the effectiveness of school-based mentoring, however, little research has been conducted with young children. This study reports findings from a three-year evaluation of an instrumental Literacy-Enhanced Mentoring (LEM) program that integrates a structured, literacy component into a school-based mentoring program for children in kindergarten through second grade. Objective The primary research objective was to assess the association between LEM enhancements and key match outcomes: relationship strength, match length, and early match closure, as these indicators are important moderators of a broad range of program effects. Researchers also aimed to determine whether the LEM literacy components had been implemented as designed and whether reasons for closure were different for matches in the LEM and traditional BBBS mentoring programs. Methods This quasi-experimental study employs propensity score matching to achieve equivalent comparison groups among LEM matches (n = 64) and traditional BBBS school-based matches (n = 64). Researchers also utilize agency-collected match activity data to assess program fidelity. Results Participation in the LEM program was not associated with mentors’ reports of relationship strength or match length. Treatment was not associated with early match closure for the full LEM group, although there were reductions in early closure among subgroups of mentees with certain types of individual, family, and neighborhood risk. LEM participation was also associated with reasons for early match closure. Conclusions Despite extant research suggesting that developmental mentoring is better suited for young children and instrumental mentoring for older children and youth, in this study, goal-directed literacy enhancements were implemented in a mentoring program without compromising relationship quality or match length. Findings are limited by the study’s research design, particularly lack of random assignment and data regarding the match activities of the comparison group. Findings from this study suggest that instrumental mentoring may be a promising approach to mentoring young children.
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ORIGINAL PAPER
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Accepted: 17 January 2022
© The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2022
Extended author information available on the last page of the article
Promising Practices for Improving the Match Outcomes of
Young Children: An Evaluation of the School-Based Literacy-
Enhanced Mentoring (LEM) Program
LiliokanaioPeaslee1· Amanda C.Teye1· Jeron S.Baker2
Child & Youth Care Forum
https://doi.org/10.1007/s10566-022-09675-z
Abstract
Background Recent research suggests that instrumental relationship styles can enhance the
eectiveness of school-based mentoring, however, little research has been conducted with
young children. This study reports ndings from a three-year evaluation of an instrumental
Literacy-Enhanced Mentoring (LEM) program that integrates a structured, literacy compo-
nent into a school-based mentoring program for children in kindergarten through second
grade.
Objective The primary research objective was to assess the association between LEM
enhancements and key match outcomes: relationship strength, match length, and early
match closure, as these indicators are important moderators of a broad range of program
eects. Researchers also aimed to determine whether the LEM literacy components had
been implemented as designed and whether reasons for closure were dierent for matches
in the LEM and traditional BBBS mentoring programs.
Methods This quasi-experimental study employs propensity score matching to achieve
equivalent comparison groups among LEM matches (n = 64) and traditional BBBS school-
based matches (n = 64). Researchers also utilize agency-collected match activity data to
assess program delity.
Results Participation in the LEM program was not associated with mentors’ reports of rela-
tionship strength or match length. Treatment was not associated with early match closure
for the full LEM group, although there were reductions in early closure among subgroups of
mentees with certain types of individual, family, and neighborhood risk. LEM participation
was also associated with reasons for early match closure.
Conclusions Despite extant research suggesting that developmental mentoring is better
suited for young children and instrumental mentoring for older children and youth, in this
study, goal-directed literacy enhancements were implemented in a mentoring program with-
out compromising relationship quality or match length. Findings are limited by the study’s
research design, particularly lack of random assignment and data regarding the match activ-
ities of the comparison group. Findings from this study suggest that instrumental mentoring
may be a promising approach to mentoring young children.
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