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Child Youth Serv Rev. 2018 May;88:308-315. doi: 10.1016/j.childyouth.2018.03.029. Epub 2018 Mar 19.

"I really wanted her to have a Big Sister": Caregiver perspectives on mentoring for early adolescent girls.

Author information

School of Social Work, Portland State University, 1800 SW 6th Ave, Portland, OR 97201.
School of Social Work, Loyola University Chicago, Maguire Hall, 1 E. Pearson St., Chicago, IL 60611.
Institute for Health Research and Policy, University of Illinois at Chicago, 1747 W. Roosevelt Rd., Chicago, IL 60608.


Formal youth mentoring programs tend to focus on the mentor-mentee dyad as the primary relationship cultivated and supported. The interests and preferences of the parent or caregiver in the mentoring relationship may receive little attention. In this study, semi-structured qualitative interviews were conducted with primary caregivers (N=20) of early adolescent girls participating in a Big Brothers Big Sisters community-based mentoring program to explore reasons why they wanted mentors for their daughters. Thematic analysis revealed that caregivers expected mentors to support their daughters as trusted companions, confidants, and conduits to opportunities and services. In addition, caregivers noted ways in which mentoring offered them respite and reinforced their parenting. The findings highlight the potential value of assessing caregiver perspectives and priorities so that program staff and mentors can partner more effectively with youth and families for successful mentoring experiences.

Conflict of interest statement

Declaration of Interest Dr. Keller is a member of the Research Advisory Council of Big Brothers Big Sisters of America (BBBSA) and has been a paid consultant of BBBSA. Dr. DuBois is chair of the BBBSA Research Advisory Council and has been a paid consultant of BBBSA.

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