Sponsoring (Mentoring) a Child
Sponsoring (Mentoring) a Child at The Children's Home of Lubbock
The mentor program is designed to provide a child with a special friend aside from family or staff. We hope that each mentor will enhance the life of a child by establishing a close personal relationship and by providing opportunities the child may not otherwise receive. The program is meant to augment and support the daily care program of the Children’s Home. The program is also an opportunity for a volunteer to enrich his or her own life by sharing with a child.
While the child is in the company of a mentor, the mentor will be responsible for the general care and supervision of the child. It is the desire of the staff of The Children’s Home of Lubbock that the mentor will become an integral part of the child’s life and the child care team.
Children eligible for the mentor program range from ages 5 to 18 years old. They must be adjusted to the routine of cottage life and be secure enough to succeed in a mentor’s home. These children come from all social, financial and ethnic backgrounds. Some of the children are placed by their families, who for various reasons are unable to care for the basic needs of their child.
Some of the children are placed by the Children’s Protective Services or Juvenile Probation Office. Typically, these children have experienced abuse in one form or another.
Each one of these children, no matter what the reasons are for placement, has the same thing in common: a need for healthy relationships. Most of these children have a desire for adult guidance, companionship and unconditional love.
- When planning to visit the child on campus or to take the child for an outing, check with the child care worker, the case worker, or the Unit Director. This consultation on scheduling the visit should take place before the visit or before inviting the child on an outing.
- Visits and trips of more than 48 hours require approval from people beyond the Children’s Home staff such as a parent or managing conservator. Two weeks notice is requested in these cases to facilitate these approval contacts and to avoid the possibility of the disappointment of a missed opportunity for the child.
- While the child is under your supervision, the child must be properly supervised, fed and hydrated, and provided with safe housing accommodations for any overnight visits.
- While the child is under your supervision, the child’s health, safety, and well-being must be protected.
You, the mentor, must have all necessary medical information concerning the child, and must know how to proceed with a medical emergency.
- Much of our discipline program is based on a behavioral level system with each level having corresponding privileges or restrictions. A child must be on the appropriate level to participate in an outing. Other plans or extenuating circumstances may need to be considered before allowing a child to leave for a visit.
- Honor time frames established in the cottage and return children at the time agreed with staff. This will generally be at least thirty minutes before the child’s bedtime.
- You are welcome to visit the child in his/her home. Remember that this is also the home of several other people. Extended or frequent visits in the cottage during meals, bath time or bed time can be a distraction to the regular routine of cottage life. Cottage visits should be concluded at the time agreed with staff. This will generally be at least an hour before the child’s bedtime.
- You, the mentor, are chosen to be a special friend to one or two children. Focusing on the children selected for you to mentor gives that child extra attention and really strengthens relationships.
- On special occasions, you may want to take several children on an outing. If you are planning for more than three children, arrange to have other adults involved so that you will have at least one adult for each three children. Appropriate supervision for these children is critical. Unit Director approval is required if your plans involve children from more than one cottage.
- Please remember that the staff has the responsibility to fill the “parent” role for the child. As with any parenting situation, there may be times when you do not agree with the style or technique the staff employ. It is okay to not agree. The children should not be aware of your disagreement. Helpful suggestions may be appropriately taken to the direct care staff. Disagreements where you feel that action stronger than a suggestion is required should be directed to supervisory staff.
- Corporal punishment is prohibited for children in the care of the Children’s Home of Lubbock. Many of our children have experienced abuse from adults and corporal punishment will deter the healing process for them.
- Making appointments with school personnel, managing conservators, family members or therapists is a function of the staff of the Children’s Home of Lubbock. Confidentiality issues must be respected in these matters. The staff will be happy to share with you what is appropriate information and observations you have regarding the child. Please talk to the child’s staff regarding concerns that you have.
- Mentor families are to meet the same guidelines as childcare staff.
- High risk recreational activities are not permitted. If questions arise, please contact the child’s Unit Director.
Helpful Hints for Mentors
- Look for and focus on the positive aspects of the child’s life.
- Communicate your love and acceptance by giving the child focused attention, eye contact and appropriate touch.
- Use your example as your primary teaching tool. Your words will likely soon be forgotten but your actions, attitudes and values may stay with the child for a lifetime.
- Use the three “R”s of memory making to give lasting treasures to the child; Routine, Ritual and the Ridiculous.
- If you are busy, for whatever reason, and cannot have the child visit you for a weekend during a particular month, call the child and communicate your situation.
- If you cannot make a scheduled visit with the child, call as soon as possible before the anticipated meeting time.
- Entertaining youngsters is always fun, but mix in the other activities of real life as well. Try to keep a realistic mix in your shared activities. Allow the child to go with you while you run errands, do business, perform chores, work on the car or in the garden, grocery-shopping etc.
- Allow the child to do some chores around the house. Every child is responsible for completing chores while living on campus.
- This helps develop responsibility and builds self-esteem.
- Be patient with the child. Don’t expect the child to warm up to you or share things that are important to them right away. It may take weeks or months before you sense a bonding between you and the child.
- Be ready for setbacks. Some children may disappoint you. Remember that it is not the child you are disappointed with but his or her behavior. Take into consideration the circumstances that the children have come from and objectives as mentors and staff to help them grow and mature in appropriate behavior.
- Do establish some guidelines for behaviors that you expect from the child. Be consistent with these guidelines. Allow the child to have some input concerning the guidelines.
- Children often fail to show proper thanks and gratitude. You are encouraged to help the child learn how to be courteous and use proper manners. Verbal prompts can be helpful.
- Do practice good listening skills. Focused attention is a powerful way to communicate your love and give the child a sense of his or her value. Children are keenly aware of when they lack your complete attention.
- Don’t pre-judge the child. Keep an open mind, especially when first getting acquainted with the child. Try to accept the child where he or she is, and focus on the child’s positive aspects.
- As the relationship develops, do encourage the child to think about him/herself. Plan some goals together for the future.
- Avoid getting caught in the middle between the child and his/her houseparents, teachers, parents, etc. Do carefully listen to and understand the child’s complaints. Communicate concern for the child but avoid taking sides. Let the child retain ownership of the problem.
- Relax. Be yourself. The child will appreciate you for who you are and will learn from you because you have taken the time to invest in him/her.
- If a visit does not go well, try not to take it personally. Take into consideration that a child may be troubled by a crisis in the cottage or a disturbing interaction with his or her family. There are many things outside your control that will affect you relationship with the child.
- Direct questions and requests for assistance concerning the child that you are mentoring to the child care staff or their supervisors will yield the best results. They want to be of help to ensure a good experience for both you and the child.
Glossary for Mentors
- Caseworker – Staff employed by The Children’s Home with specific responsibilities of coordinating the child’s outside relationships and assuring that the child’s plan of care and service is implemented.
- Child Care Staff – See Houseparents.
- Children’s Protective Services – The governmental agency holding managing conservatorship of many of the children in care at the Home. Each child placed at the Home by CPS ha an assigned CPS worker to monitor the child’s care and progress while at the Home. (Also known as CPS)
- Houseparents – There are two different models for staffing cottages at the Children’s Home. The traditional model is generally a married couple that serves as surrogate parents for the children that live in their cottage. In some cases a single person may serve in this role. The second model is to staff the cottage with shift workers. On campus, shift workers are referred to as staff by the children while the traditional model staff continue to be referred to as houseparents.
- Managing Conservator – The person or agency that has legal custody of the child. Generally this is not The Children’s Home or a member of its staff.
- Program Supervisor – The Children’s Home staff person assigned administrative responsibility for the mentor program.
- Supervising Staff – The supervisor of the staff for one or more cottages. Also referred to as Unit Director.
- Unit Director – The supervisor of the staff for one or more cottages. Also referred to as Supervising Staff.
Qualifications for Mentors (Sponsors)
- Applicant must be at least 21 years of age.
- Applicant must complete an “Application for Mentor Program.”
- A minimum of three references must be submitted.
- Applicant must complete and return a “Request for Criminal History and Central Registry Check” for every person living in the home who is over 14 years old. No mentor will be approved without a clearance through TDPRS.
- Applicant must complete, and pass, a TB test.
- Applicant must interview with the child’s Case Manager or Unit Director.
- Applicant must sign “Reporting Child Abuse and Neglect Responsibilities of Staff and Volunteers of the Children’s Home of Lubbock.”
- Applicant must read and sign “Discipline and Behavioral Management Philosophy, Policy and Guidelines.”
- Applicant must sign a confidentiality agreement.
- Applicant must provide a copy of “Proof of Insurance” if they are going to transport any child.
- Applicant must be able to provide appropriate sleeping arrangements if a child is to stay overnight.
- Applicant must commit to a minimum for one year of mentorship.
- Applicant must commit to a minimum of two contact/visits per month.
Why might I commit as a mentor?
A child’s mentor should plan to see, call, write or have the child in his or her home at least every other week. It is recommended that the child be able to spend one weekend each month with their mentor. A mentor must consider carefully the demands of the job and be willing to commit at least one full year to the child.
Other levels and styles of involvement may also be appropriate for a child. Consistency and dependability in the relationship are critical to the child. Whatever you agree to commit to this program, it is important that the child’s expectations are properly set and that you do your best to follow through for the child.
What might I do as a mentor?
During your time together, you and the child will plan to do the activities you both enjoy. These might be watching a movie, bowling, picnics, playing ball, sharing a project, shopping, or just relaxing at home.
You might share trade or sports skills with the child or help with tutoring in academic subjects. Reading a story or article of mutual interest to you and the child and discussing the ideas presented can be a great way to share values.
Extended visits and time away from campus are special; however, these times should be balanced. It is not in the best interest of the child to be separated from their cottage and routine for a major part of their free time.
How do I become a mentor?
Each person wishing to become a mentor must complete the following application and orientation procedures:
- Complete and return an application to The Children’s Home of Lubbock.
- Three personal references returned.
- A criminal records check is initiated through the Texas Department of Protective and Regulatory Services.
- A personal interview is scheduled and conducted with a Unit Director.
- The applicant participates in the next scheduled (monthly) orientation.
- Introduction to children and staff is made and limited visits begin.
- Final approval and privileges are granted.
In addition, each mentor will be required to sign a form that states the responsibility of the mentor to report any signs of child abuse or neglect to the program supervisor.
With these accomplished, a good and enriching relationship will be on its way!
Am I then on my own?
A mentor’s relationship with a child is supported and coordinated by the child’s Unit Director, and that person may be contacted for any concern or special help needed. If the mentor prefers, an appointment may be scheduled.
What happens in an emergency?
Each mentor will receive a notarized medical and transportation authorization for the child. If a child gets hurt and requires medical attention, it will be the responsibility of the mentor to fill that need. Should an emergency arise, the mentor should contact the child care staff or the caseworker as soon as possible. The appropriate phone numbers will be provided. The Children’s Home will reimburse the mentor if any medical expenses are incurred.
Will discipline be a problem?
During the initial orientation, mentors are given detailed guidelines on appropriate means of managing behavior while the child is in their care. Basically, the mentor may take away privileges, or formulate logical consequences to address behavioral problems. Mentors will be given positive ways of dealing with behavioral issues that do not include corporal punishment.
“Manifesting Christ through excellence in child care.”
“Working in creative collaboration to provide quality care that transforms the lives of at-risk children and their families through the active compassion of Christ.”
4404 Idalou Rd.
Lubbock, TX 79403
The Children’s Home of Lubbock
P.O. Box 2824
Lubbock, TX 79408