Mentoring Male Foster Youth
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Risk factors present in a foster youth’s home life, foster care placements, and adolescence may lead to several negative experiences, such as homelessness, high school dropout, emotional and behavioural issues, and social skill deficits, among others (Barth, 2000; Courtney et al., 2001, Marquis & Flynn, 2009). Youth who are transitioning out of foster care are exposed to many risk factors which put them at greater risk of facing destructive outcomes. Despite this risk, emancipating foster youth are underrepresented in current literature. The majority of literature demonstrated that mentorship encourages positive experiences for at-risk youth (Ahrens et al., 2008; Keating, Tomishima et al., 2002; Osterling & Hines, 2006), while a minority of research observed the potential negative impact of mentorship (Karcher, 2005). This conflict indicates that research must go beyond identifying outcomes and examine the process by which mentorship occurs and exerts an influence. In addition, mentorship research was often limited to quantitative studies, Big Brothers Big Sisters programs in the United States, female samples, and reporting mentorship outcomes, rather than the process of affecting mentees. The current study addressed these limitations and examined the influence of mentorship on male youth who were transitioning out of foster care. A Glaserian approach to grounded theory was used to guide this study and analyze the data, albeit with necessary deviations from traditional grounded theory methodology. Three mentors and three mentees completed 10 semi-structured interviews aimed at exploring mentorship experiences. Participant responses demonstrated that mentorship was an important influential factor in the lives of mentees. A descriptive mentorship model emerged from the data and featured three influencing aspects of mentorship: mentee, mentor, and program characteristics. These characteristics impacted the relationship between mentors and mentees, and also, the mentee’s capacity for personal growth, which subsequently lead to positive or negative consequences. All findings are represented by means of a descriptive mentorship model. The most prominent implication of this research relates to the development of successful mentorship programs and ultimately, the promotion of positive experiences for transitioning male foster youth. Future research and mentorship programming would benefit from further construction and verification of mentorship models.
DegreeMaster of Education (M.Ed.)
DepartmentEducational Psychology and Special Education
ProgramSchool and Counselling Psychology
CommitteeMartin, Stephanie; Ralph, Edwin; Nicol, Jennifer
Copyright DateJune 2012