Families as Partners
Our agency believes the old African proverb: “It takes a village to raise a child.” Our goal is to enhance the family structure, and we need parents or guardians to be involved in all aspects of the mentoring process. When it comes to the future of our children and the well-being of our communities, we’re all in this together. So, it should come as no surprise that we need the parents and guardians of Littles to be involved every step of the way.
Not only will you provide information about your child’s strengths and needs, but you’ll also approve the selection of the Big Brother or Big Sister. Once the match is made, you remain closely involved in many ways, including:
- Asking your child questions about their outings with their Big and sharing what you learn with the agency staff.
- Reporting your child’s progress and milestones to the agency on a regular basis (Big Brothers Big Sisters will contact you, but we welcome your feedback any time.)
- Participating in training on child safety offered by Big Brothers Big Sisters staff and communicating with your child about the training he/she receive.
The safety of the children in our programs is our highest priority, and we do not waver on our standards and practices in order to ensure this commitment. Making the best possible match between Little and Big is critical to the growth and development of a child. But before we begin the matchmaking process, we start by thoroughly screening potential Bigs. Our agency abides by Big Brothers Big Sisters of America’s National Standards of Excellence which requires every volunteer applicant to complete an extensive screening process that includes:
- Completion of a formal written application
- Criminal background checks
- Reference checks
- Extensive in-person interview
- Mandatory mentor training session led by professional case managers at BBBS
Big Brothers Big Sisters also provides child safety tips, and we welcome your questions and feedback. Throughout the life of the match, our professional case managers will be in ongoing communication with you, your child, and your child’s Big. This is our approach to building and maintaining strong, healthy relationships while assessing the highest level of child safety.
Most children in our programs are from single parent homes and may be experiencing emotional, social and academic challenges. All are from Bergen, Hunterdon, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris, Ocean, Passaic, Somerset, Sussex, and Warren Counties and must be between the ages of 6-17 at the time of enrollment.
Once an application is received from the family, a BBBS case manager is in contact to arrange an interview with the parent/guardian, and the child. Information gathered during the interview with the family enables the case manager to match Bigs and Littles based on interests, personalities and geographic areas. The case manager then provides ongoing support and supervision for the duration of the match. Match activities typically last 2 to 4 hours and occur twice a month.
We ask for at least a one year commitment from the parent/guardian, the child, and the volunteer so that the relationship has a chance to grow and provide the most benefit for the child.