Mentoring offers children or young people affected by the criminal justice system a supportive relationship with a caring adult
Our Community Mentoring Program provides children or young people with a positive relationship with an adult role model, providing consistency and stability in their lives without intruding into the family structure. The mentor provides the child or young person with healthy options for dealing with life experiences.
Mentors are volunteers who meet with the child or young person on a weekly, fortnightly or monthly basis. They are matched, checked, trained and supported by us at SHINE for Kids. During their time together the pair enjoy activities or outings that are of interest to the mentee, developing a trusting personal bond that creates a safe space for the child or young person to be themselves, away from the pressures of daily life.
Mentoring offers children and young people the opportunity to:
- Have a supportive, caring and non-judgmental relationship with an adult mentor
- Talk to someone who is there just for them
- Foster new skills and/or interests, or develop existing ones
- Encourage a positive personal outlook, by building on their self esteem, communication and interpersonal skills.
- Provide a safe and confidential environment for children/young people to attend where they can voice their concerns.
- Reduce the possibility of the child/young person coming into contact with police or the criminal justice system.
- Reduce feelings of isolation and the stigma of children/young people who have a family member in prison.
- Develop a peer support network within the program.
- Break the cycle of intergenerational offending.
- Provide the means and opportunities for the child/young person to develop new skills and/or interests, aiming to improve existing skills and/or interests.
- Encourage and support the child/young person to develop positive, personal outlooks, and build on their self-esteem, communication and interpersonal skills.
- Establish a program which has the potential to grow and be integrated into local youth services.
Case study: Brayden
Brayden* has been subject to many traumatic events in his ten years. He first became involved with SHINE for Kids four years ago when his stepfather was incarcerated. At the time Brayden was a very happy boy with big dreams for the future. Brayden has been a victim of domestic violence for most of his life and his stepfather is currently awaiting sentencing for more offences relating to this.
Initially, Brayden was engaged with the Education Program. Brayden’s two older siblings had been matched with SHINE for Kids mentors who were taking them out into the community once a fortnight. The children really benefitted from the mentoring because as part of a large family, they rarely spent one-on-one time with a supportive adult. The family also struggled financially and had no transport, so these outings were considered to be very special.
Two and a half years ago Brayden’s home burnt down in the middle of the night, tragically taking the life of his little brother. Brayden’s stepfather was granted early release from prison to arrange his son’s funeral. Their new home was closer to the stepfather’s relatives but last year Brayden’s family returned to the Bathurst area, and an incident of domestic violence prompted the involvement of Family and Community Services. Their caseworker was particularly concerned about Brayden, who had been showing signs of anger and was blaming himself for the death of his little brother.
At their suggestion, the FaCS caseworker referred the grateful family back to SHINE for Kids. We met with the principal of Brayden’s school to further clarify his emotional state, and it was decided that Brayden would benefit greatly from our Mentoring Program. Brayden has been matched with a very experienced mentor and has been thoroughly enjoying their outings for the past six months.
Brayden is attending a Tutorial Centre for behavioural children three days a week, and has regular schooling for the other two. With his mother’s support, SHINE for Kids referred Brayden to a child psychologist, who was assisted by a detailed behavioural report from the Tutorial Centre support teacher. This support teacher has also met with SHINE for Kids and Brayden’s mentor, also a trained teacher with additional studies in working with children who have complex behavioural needs. The mentor, whose input has proven invaluable, has taken Brayden to the movies, ten pin bowling, school fetes and local markets. At a local cafe, he recently assisted Brayden in using a knife and folk for the first time.
Children like Brayden in the Community Mentoring Program:
- develop new skills
- build self-esteem
- develop positive and personal outlooks
- develop communication and interpersonal skills
- increase knowledge for healthy choices and
- build a positive relationship with an adult outside of the family.
The SHINE for Kids Community Mentoring Program is a uniquely tailored and particularly effective method of giving these disadvantaged children the opportunity for a dramatically improved life trajectory.
*Name has been changed.
Case study: Matilda
Matilda* is 12 years old and in year 7 at high school. Her father is incarcerated in a correctional facility located a long distance from where Matilda lives. Matilda’s mother’s anxiety limits her interaction socially and within the community.
When Matilda was assessed for the mentoring program, she was truanting from school and was disengaged from her family. Matilda’s relationship with her mother was also suffering due to the blame she placed on her mother for her father’s incarceration.
Matilda was matched with a mentor in our program and over four months has built a very good rapport with her. Matilda has contact with her mentor on a fortnightly, sometimes weekly, basis. Their outings assist Matilda in reaching her goals of developing a positive outlook on her life. The mentor has assisted Matilda in maintaining contact by writing letters to her father, which is preparing her for his release.
Her mother has described how Matilda is much more settled on the days before and after her mentor outings, and no longer steals. Case conferences with Matilda ‘s school principal and school counsellor reveal increased attendance and engagement at school. Matilda now has her sights on gaining new skills over the coming months.
*Name has been changed.