Quality is Key
BEST Kids recently earned Partner Member status through the Virginia Mentoring Partnership's Quality-Based Membership Initiative. BEST Kids is one of only ten mentoring programs to earn this status and one of the only programs in Washington, DC.
Research suggests that quality mentoring programs follow nationally recognized best practices called the Elements of Effective Practice. Mentoring Partnerships, under the leadership of MENTOR have developed a process for mentoring programs to assess and improve program practices using these nationally recognized standards called Quality-Based Membership (QBM).
BEST Kids has successfully completed the QBM process, a year-long rigorous assessment and enhancement process that connects research to the daily practices of existing mentoring programs here in the local area. Rose Marie Wiegandt, Director of Programs at Virginia Mentoring Partnership, says “earning this status demonstrates BEST Kids is fully committed to offering their mentees and mentors the most impactful experiences possible.”
Virginia Mentoring Partnership is an independent, 501 (c) 3 organization founded in 1993 to provide training and program assistance to mentors and mentoring programs around Virginia. Today, Virginia Mentoring Partnership promotes effective mentoring in Virginia by increasing the capacity of mentoring programs, developing new programs in areas of high need, and leveraging resources to support the mentoring field.
The BEST Kids Mentoring Program matches adult mentors with foster children utilizing an intentional approach that includes:
Early Intervention– BEST Kids serves children as young as 6 years old and continues providing programming to the child through age 21
Long-term Relationships– BEST Kids commits to sustaining a mentor in a child’s life as needed throughout their childhood. These long-term relationships allow for the matches to establish consistency, trust, and positive outcomes for the both the child and mentor for well beyond the minimum one year requirement.
Ongoing Mentor Training & Support– BEST Kids provides each mentor with individual support and training as well as quarterly group trainings that assist mentors in building positive and meaningful relationships with their mentees. A team of advisory board members who are experts in the fields of child & adolescent psychology, behavior management, education and more, provide expertise through training.
Comprehensive Support– BEST Kids staff works closely with caregivers, social workers, teachers, and others to make sure that the needs of each child are met and that mentors are working collaboratively to create the best experience possible for the child.
Intensive Evaluation– BEST Kids conducts regular evaluations with all program participants to ensure that each match is achieving positive outcomes. Each match also works toward individual goals together so that the child is able to work towards achieving individually relevant outcomes.
Children in the BEST Kids Mentoring Program will succeed. We believe in them and our children will grow to believe in themselves. Our positive expectations of the children include goal setting that is individualized to each child’s needs, abilities, and gifts.
Youth Participation- Mentoring is a two-way street. While the mentor guides the child, the mentor also encourages the child to contribute his or her own solutions to problems and to set goals for him or herself. In this way, the child comes to accept responsibility for his or her actions, and also learns that his or her viewpoints are important and respected.
Mastery of Skills- We will encourage competency in a variety of areas and provide ample opportunities for meaningful achievements. Our kids will be able to say, “I am good at something.”
Building Social Skills- Washington, DC is one of the most culturally diverse cities in the nation. BEST Kids recognizes that children and mentors may have common experiences, but also that each will bring to the relationship different mores and understandings of socially acceptable behavior. Actions that may seem normal in one neighborhood may seem inappropriate in another. BEST Kids Mentoring Program training is designed to make the mentors more sensitive to the culture in which these children have been raised while simultaneously enabling the mentors to help the children adopt the attitudes that will equip them to operate successfully in the larger society.
Having Fun- More than anything else, we endeavor to make our mentoring program fun for both mentors and mentees. Our staff and advisors attempt to provide mentors with constant support in the form of ongoing trainings, troubleshooting advice, recommendations for fun 1:1 activities and mentor outings. We also strive to ensure that every peer group experience provides both good learning opportunities for the youth and time to strengthen both group and mentor-mentee bonds.
About Foster Care