Session: Addressing the Challenges of Mentoring Previously Underserved Youth: Promising Interventions and Approaches to Mentoring (Society for Social Work and Research 22nd Annual Conference - Achieving Equal Opportunity, Equity, and Justice)

52 Addressing the Challenges of Mentoring Previously Underserved Youth: Promising Interventions and Approaches to Mentoring

Friday, January 12, 2018: 8:00 AM-9:30 AM
Marquis BR Salon 7 (ML 2) (Marriott Marquis Washington DC)
Cluster: Adolescent and Youth Development
Symposium Organizer:
John Paul Horn, MSW, Boston University
Participation in high-quality mentoring relationships leads to a host of positive psychosocial benefits for youth, but traditional mentoring programs often have a difficult time providing services to youth populations viewed as “at-risk”. Youth living with serious mental health conditions, have left high school without graduating, or involved in foster care or juvenile justice systems are often underserved by traditional mentoring programs. Research is needed to identify what challenges exist for programs interested in serving these youth. By understanding these challenges, researchers can help programs develop alternative approaches to mentoring that will effectively engage these underserved populations. This symposium will provide an overview of the importance and feasibility of alternative approaches to mentoring for underserved youth by presenting two qualitative studies delineating barriers to serving these youth as seen by both parents and agency staff and then presenting initial outcomes of two intervention studies of non-traditional programs that serve these youth.

The first paper describes the challenges faced by parents of youth with serious mental health conditions when receiving services from a traditional mentoring program. Through use of thematic analysis, this paper concludes that mentoring relationships can positively benefit when agencies solicit and incorporate parents' voice, especially when serving youth with serious mental health conditions. The second paper presents agency staff perspectives on barriers faced by traditional mentoring programs when serving underserved youth, including those in the foster care or juvenile justice systems and those who have left high school without graduating. Findings suggest that youth-initiated mentoring, an approach wherein youth have voice in selecting their own mentors, is a promising approach to alleviating these barriers. The third paper describes a novel mentoring program, Cornerstone Mentoring Program, which serves youth living with serious mental health conditions. Findings suggest that delivering a mentoring intervention within an existing mental health setting for youth living with serious mental health conditions is feasible and reports promising outcomes. The final paper describes a feasibility study of Fostering Healthy Futures for Teens (FHF-T), a mentoring program that focuses on serving youth involved with the child welfare system. Using a randomized control trial design, this study finds that FHF-T was well-received by participants and their caregivers and that youth served by the mentoring program had better outcomes than the control population at 1-year follow up. A brief discussion on how to increase efforts towards serving these underserved populations will follow.

This symposium represents an important contribution to the growing focus of making mentoring accessible for all youth. Together, these papers demonstrate the challenges traditional mentoring programs may face in serving underserved youth, recommendations for addressing these challenges, and examples of mentoring programs that are successfully overcoming them. By removing barriers to mentoring, these underserved youth can reap the benefits of high-quality mentoring relationships to which they might otherwise not have access.

* noted as presenting author
Closing the Gap: Using Youth-Initiated Mentoring to Address Service Barriers for at-Risk and Underserved Youth
John Paul Horn, MSW, Boston University; Alison Drew, EdM, Boston University; Renée Spencer, EdD, Boston University; Grace Gowdy, MSW, Boston University; Jean Rhodes, PhD, University of Massachusetts at Boston
The Cornerstone Mentoring Program: Feasibility, Implementation and Preliminary Impact
Michele Munson, PhD, New York University; Andrea Cole, PhD, New York State Psychiatric Institute; Shelly Ben-David, PhD, University of British Columbia Okanagan; Beth Sapiro, MSW, Rutgers University-Camden; James Railey, New York University; Rachel Krauser, MSW, Jewish Board; Victoria Stanhope, PhD, New York University
Fostering Healthy Futures through Mentoring for Maltreated Teens with Child Welfare Involvment
Heather Taussig, PhD, University of Denver; Kimberly Bender, PhD, University of Denver
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