Methods: This study gathered social network, social capital, and mentoring information from 123 former and current foster youth just prior to attending a four-year university. Study participants were recruited with the assistance of child welfare and campus support programs in southern California. Data were transformed so each observation was a mentor, not a foster youth reporting multiple mentors. Data related to each mentor included mentor role, relationship duration, frequency of contact, and various types of assistance provided by the mentor to the youth. To create different profiles of mentoring relationships, cluster analysis, a person-centered approach, was used. After these relationship profiles were created and validated, a series of chi-square tests were run on relationship profiles and types of support offered by the mentor.
Findings. Two distinct clusters emerged representative of our core and capital mentoring typologies. There were 378 mentoring relationships available to 113 foster youth; 10 youth reported not having any mentoring relationships. A majority of the mentors (63%) qualified as core mentors (n = 238); 37% of the relationships reported qualified as capital mentors (n = 140). The majority of capital mentors were either school personnel (37%) or other paid professionals, such as a social workers (37%). Chi-square tests indicated that core mentors were more likely to provide various kinds of instrumental support while capital mentors were more likely to provide informational support (p < .01). There was no significant difference in emotional support provided by mentoring type.
Conclusions and Implications: The findings from this study on the provision of instrumental and informational support to young people by core and capital mentors were consistent with previous research. Unexpectedly, both types of mentors were equally likely to provide emotional support. This may be attributed to an expectancy among mentors as to the emotional needs of foster youth, when compared to the general population. These findings can increase knowledge related to the mentoring dynamics associated with former and current foster youth transitioning to adulthood, as well as inform social and educational service providers in their support of this unique population.