Program

Aug 11, 2011

OVERVIEW

Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) is an intensive, community-based mentoring program for at-risk school-aged children and adolescents. BBBS staff carefully screen and match community volunteers with participants and then monitor and provide ongoing support to the matches. BBBS mentoring is designed to promote emotional support, positive social skills, feelings of safety and security, academic skills, and more positive relationships with family and peers. An experimental evaluation of the community-based BBBS program found statistically significant impacts on drug abuse initiation, hitting someone, scholastic competence, skipping class, skipping school, parental relationship, family trust, and lying to a parent; subgroup analyses also found impacts on some outcomes by race and/or gender.

DESCRIPTION OF PROGRAM

Target participant: At-risk school-age children and adolescents.

Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) is an intensive, community-based mentoring program targeting at-risk five- to 18-year-old children and adolescents who desire a match with a Big Brother or Big Sister. Mentors (or “Bigs”) are volunteers from the community who are extensively screened by program staff before being matched with a mentee (or “Little”); mentors are expected to commit to meet with their mentee for at least one year. Throughout the mentoring relationship, BBBS program staff monitor the matches and provide support to mentors. Typically, mentees and mentors meet two to four times each month, and meetings last four hours. The mentoring relationship is designed to provide a sense of safety and security, emotional support, social skill promotion, and help with academic, technical, and other skills; program goals include reducing antisocial behaviors and improving Littles’ self-confidence, academic achievement, and relationships with parents and peers. There are currently over 500 BBBS programs throughout the U.S. Estimated costs are approximately $1,000 per match for support and supervision of each match.

A separate, school-based mentoring program has also been developed by Big Brothers Big Sisters. A write-up of the description of the school-based mentoring program, along with evaluation findings, is found on the LINKS’ database.

EVALUATION(S) OF PROGRAM

Grossman, J.B., Tierney, J.P. (1998). Does Mentoring Work?: An Impact Study of the Big Brothers Big Sisters Program. Evaluation Review; 22:403-426.

Tierney, J.P., Grossman, J.B. & Resch, N.L. (1995). Making a difference: An impact study of Big Brothers Big Sisters. Philadelphia: Public/Private Ventures.

Evaluated population: A total of 959 adolescents 10-16 years of age who applied to BBBS programs in 1992 and 1993 at eight local agencies comprised the study sample. Approximately eight-in-ten participants (79%) were between 10 and 13 years of age, 62% were boys, 83% came from families with a household income below $25,000, and more than one-in-four (27%) had experienced at least one type of abuse such as physical, emotional, or sexual.

Approach: This program randomly assigned participants either to the intervention group (n=487) or control group (n=472). In total, 46 outcomes were assessed, which are presented in the following table, by outcome area. Program impacts were measured 18 months after the start of the pairing.

Antisocial activities Academic performance, attitudes and behaviors Relationship with family Relationship with friends Self-concept Social and cultural enrichment
Drug
abuse initiation
Scholastic competence Parental
relationship
Intimacy
in communication
Global
self-worth
Social
and cultural activities
Alcohol
use initiation
GPA Trust Instrumental support Social
acceptance
Social
and cultural events
Hit
someone
Skipped
class
Communication Emotional
support
Self-confidence Sports or
recreation
Stealing Skipped
school
Anger and
alienation
Conflict Volunteering or community service
Property
damaged
Weekly
hours spent on homework
Lied to
parent
Art,
dance, or music lessons
Behavioral conduct Weekly
hours spent reading
Attended
play
Fighting School
value
Attended
dance performance
Risky
behaviors
College
visits
Attended
music concert
Principal’s office visit Books
read
School
clubs or organizations
Test
cheating
Library
trips
Youth
groups
Smoking Attend
sporting event
Outdoor
activities
Visited
museums

Results: At the 18-month follow-up period, there were significant impacts on drug abuse initiation, hitting someone, scholastic competence, number of times skipped class, number of times skipped school, parental relationship, family trust, and number of times participant lied to a parent. There were marginal impacts on likelihood of alcohol use initiation, GPA, and peer emotional support. There were no impacts on the remaining outcomes assessed.

Additionally, there were some significant impacts by race and/or gender. In particular, there were significant impacts for both minority and white girls among the following outcomes: scholastic competence, number of times skipped class, number of times skipped school, and GPA; there was a significant impact on behavioral conduct among minority girls.

There were significant impacts among males, particularly minority males, on initiating drug abuse and number of times attended a sporting event. Other significant impacts were found among males, particularly white males, including: parental relationship, family trust, family communication, attending social and cultural events, and number of times participating in outdoor activities.

SOURCES FOR MORE INFORMATION

For more information, please visit:
http://www.colorado.edu/cspv/infohouse/publications.html#BP002

For more information about the Big Brothers Big Sisters of America program, please visit:
www.bbbsa.org

References:
Grossman, J. B., & Rhodes, J. E. (2002). The test of time: Predictors and effects of duration in students mentoring relationships. American Journal of Community Psychology, 30(2), 199-219.

Grossman, J.B., Tierney, J.P. (1998). Does Mentoring Work?: An Impact Study of the Big Brothers Big Sisters Program. Evaluation Review; 22:403-426.

Tierney, J.P., Grossman, J.B. & Resch, N.L. (1995). Making a difference: An impact study of Big Brothers/Big Sisters. Philadelphia: Public/Private Ventures.

KEYWORDS:Children (3-11), Adolescents (12-17), Youth (16+), Mentoring, High-Risk, Community-based, Reading, Mathematics, Academic Motivations/Self-concept/Expectations, Academic Achievement, Alcohol Use, Tobacco Use, Marijuana/Illicit/Prescription Drugs, Aggression/Violence/Bullying, Delinquency, Life Skills, Self-esteem/Self-concept, White/Caucasian, Hispanic/Latino, Black/African American, Multi-racial, American Indian/Alaska Native, Cost.

Program information last updated 8/11/11.

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