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Prediction and Prevention of Premature Closures of Mentoring Relationships: The Study To Analyze Relationships (STAR Project)

NCJ Number
Date Published
November 2017
88 pages
This mixed-methods study of mentoring relationships examined how the characteristics of a mentored youth, dyadic processes, and program practices contributed to the premature ending of a youth mentoring relationship.
Using a prospective, naturalistic approach, this Study to Analyze Relationships (STAR) monitored a sample of new mentoring relationships created in four Big Brothers Big Sisters mentoring programs (n=356). A majority (69 percent) of new mentoring matches in this study attained their 1-year anniversary, meeting the initial commitment for relationship duration; however, 31 percent of the mentoring relationships ended prematurely within the first 12 months. The reasons for match closure were attributed to mentors nearly twice as often as to mentees or their families. Mentors having time constraints, moving from the community, or failing to maintain contact with the program were the most prevalent reasons for match closures. The predictive and retrospective analyses in this study suggest some possibilities for program intervention to reduce the likelihood of a match closure. Mentors who indicated they wanted the match to last 2-4 years were the most likely to maintain their mentoring relationships over time, closely followed by those who wanted 1-year matches or to stay matched until the mentee became an adult. On the other hand, mentors who wanted the matches to last as long as possible or who were not sure about their intentions were more likely to experience closures. Regarding parents/guardians of mentees, however, those who wanted long-term matches were most likely to have matches that remained intact. This may suggest they are willing to commit to having their child continue in the match even when difficulties arise. Implications of these findings are drawn for policy and practice based on discussions between researchers and staff of the mentoring program. 4 tables, 7 figures, 43 references, and appended baseline survey constructs and measures

Date Published: November 1, 2017