For over 100 years, the Catholic Big Sisters & Big Brothers (CBSBB) has provided one-to-one mentoring services for the city's Catholic and non-Catholic children, ages 10-18 from all five boroughs. CBSBB's mentoring program is unique in that it focuses on strengthening the child's entire family, while training volunteers to be friends and guides to a young person in need.
CBSBB serves children from the low-income, first generation immigrant community. Approximately 80% of the families with whom we work have a history of involvement with ACS; 50% of the parents are unemployed (or underemployed) and 70% live below the poverty line. 90% of the families are headed by single mothers, and the children are overwhelmed by multiple stressors.
Research has proven that CBSBB's integration of mentoring, family counseling and skill building is a highly effective intervention for low income, high risk children. The comprehensive mentoring model ensures that mentoring relationships are healthier and last longer than the national average. Participation in CBSBB's mentoring program results in:
These outcomes are strong predictors for stable health, personal relationships and gainful employment in adulthood.
Mentoring: CBSBB offers one-to-one mentoring services for children, ages 10-18. Trained social workers interview and match "Bigs" with "Littles" and closely supervise the match relationship through monthly phone calls, home visits and training. CBSBB's intensive model results in matches lasting an average of 3.8 years, a period significantly longer than comparable mentoring programs nationwide.
CBSBB also hosts a graduate program for clients who "age out" of the program. We host conferences throughout the year to help support the young adults in their pursuit of employment and higher education.
Counseling: CBSBB is unique in that it offers counseling to all of its mentoring matches free of charge with a family focus. In 2011, 80% of mentoring matches received counseling services. In order to achieve wide ranging and long lasting results, the agency uses a family systems counseling model that addresses the family as an entire unit, allowing family members to work together to identify the root causes of problems and initiate changes within the family as a whole. This positive approach to change is strength-based and focuses on issues of race, class, gender, and ethnicity. Although a family model is more challenging to implement, it is more effective in creating long-lasting change.
Skill Building: CBSBB offers six-week skill based workshops on a variety of topics including financial literacy, college preparation, academic success and conflict resolution. Both the mentor and mentee attend the workshops together, and apply the skills they learn towards their personal mentoring relationship. These programs create a sense of community for the matches and provide the mentors with additional support around achieving goals. In addition, CBSBB offers monthly events and workshops for the matches such as career panels, financial aid workshops, community speakers and team building exercises.
CBSBB remains committed to providing all services (including family counseling) free of charge.