The ultimate goal of MENTOR Illinois is to create the best chances for long-lasting, positive experiences for young people entering mentoring relationships.
Tremendous growth in the youth mentoring field has resulted in an ever-expanding number of programs that provide choice, flexibility, and increased opportunities for young people who need mentors. However, the sheer number and variety of programs and approaches make it difficult for prospective mentors, parents, mentees, funders, and policymakers to know what constitutes a safe and effective mentoring program. The National Quality Mentoring System (NQMS) creates recognized standards and procedures for the operation of high quality mentoring programs based on evidence and a process for continuous improvement within a program.
Mentoring works best when steps are taken to ensure program practices meet quality standards that are safe and effective. To support mentoring programs in achieving these standards, MENTOR and Affiliates are leading the creation and facilitation of a structured, systematic process for programs to assess their practices in alignment with MENTOR’s cornerstone publication, the Elements of Effective Practice for Mentoring™, Fourth Edition, and receive the support they need to make continuous quality improvements and better serve their youth.
The NQMS process results in a public designation that signifies an organization’s commitment to assessing their practices and operating quality programming. Families, volunteers, and funders can feel confident about participating in, and supporting, a mentoring program that meets national quality standards.
Programs of any size and budget can participate in the NQMS and its quality designations. The process levels the playing field among mentoring programs for quality recognition because the research-based benchmarks and enhancements are universal, whether for small or large mentoring programs.
ESTABLISHING A SYSTEMATIC APPROACH
The National Quality Mentoring System (NQMS) provides a structured, systematic process for assessing the quality of a mentoring program’s practices in alignment with the Elements of Effective Practice for Mentoring™, Fourth Edition (EEPM). The impetus for the NQMS is based on the positive implementation of similar systems by MENTOR Affiliates in Minnesota and Massachusetts. These Affiliates developed two different systems to assess the quality of mentoring programs – the NQMS was created to build off of these local systems to establish one unified system which can be implemented consistently by all of MENTOR’s Affiliates. MENTOR Affiliates participating in the NQMS assist programs in identifying existing quality practices, acknowledging areas for improvement, and developing action plans to meet national standards, while providing ongoing training and support to achieve program goals. In 2017, MENTOR launched an online system that enables programs and Affiliates to manage all aspects of this process through a cohesive and easy-to-use tool. This approach allows MENTOR and Affiliates to establish consistent quality standards among mentoring programs across the country. The NQMS provides a meaningful indicator of quality for youth mentoring programs and lend credibility to individual programs to attract resources and support. It also helps families and volunteers feel confident about participating in a mentoring program that meets national quality standards.
HOW IT WORKS
The core components of the NQMS are:
A self-assessment survey completed by the mentoring program, with questions about program operations, management and evaluation.
A review and summary response prepared by MENTOR Illinois.
An assessment review meeting between MENTOR Illinois and the mentoring program.
The development of goals and a work plan for the program to make quality improvements with the help of training and support provided by MENTOR Illinois.
National and/or local recognition of the program upon satisfactory engagement in the quality assessment and improvement process