This Parent Guide gives you information about the TeamMates Mentoring Program of Lincoln, how our program works, and the important role that you play in making the experience a successful one for your child.
About the TeamMates Mentoring Program
For general information about the Lincoln TeamMates Mentoring Program, please visit our About Us page.
Why Was My Child Selected for TeamMates?
All children need the support of caring adults in order to be successful, not only within their family but at school and in their communities. Your child may have been nominated by you, someone in the school, or asked for a mentor. Having a variety of people positively involved in a child’s life provides that child with new opportunities and experiences that will help growth and self-confidence. A mentor can give your child someone else to talk to — a safe, concerned, and responsible friend who can listen and be supportive. A mentor can also help your child thrive in school by being encouraging, focusing on strengths and talents, and by helping your child to think about future goals and dreams.
What is a mentor?
A mentor is a caring and responsible adult who takes time to be a friend to a young person. A mentor listens, supports, and guides a young person on a consistent basis over a period of time.
A mentor develops this friendship with a young person—whom we call a “mentee”— in order to help the child be successful at home, at school, and in the community. By developing this positive relationship, a mentor can help a young person identify strengths and interests.
Mentors are not meant to take the role of parent, guardian, or teacher. A mentor’s main role is to spend time with the child doing positive and fun activities at school that help the mentee become more self-confident and identify interests and strengths. By doing this, the mentor becomes part of the team of caring adults who support the healthy development of your child: parents, relatives, teachers, coaches, faith leaders and friends.
Who serves as mentors?
Mentors are as varied as the people in our community, but they all share in their desire to make a positive difference in the life of a young person. TeamMates Mentors are 18 or older, male and female, young and old, single and married, from diverse cultural, religious, racial, and ethnic backgrounds, and with a wide range of skills and interests. Mentors are carefully screened, selected, and given initial and ongoing training so that they are prepared for the mentoring relationship.
How are matches made?
Prior to being matched, all TeamMates mentors and youth go through an orientation and training that prepares them for the journey ahead. During this time, we get to know new participants and learn about their personality and strengths so that we can match them with someone they will enjoy spending time with. Parents and guardians have an opportunity to meet their child’s mentor at school, if requested, however it is important to remember that the school-based relationship is between the mentor and mentee. Mentors are a mentor to the student, not the family or siblings. It is TeamMates’ policy to match adult males with male students and adult females with female students. In special circumstances, adult females may also be matched with male students.
Where does mentoring take place?
TeamMates is a school-based program and the meetings between the mentor and the mentee happen at school. The TeamMates mentor will be meeting with your child once a week during school hours, on school grounds. Mentors should not have contact with your child outside of school through phone, text or email. On rare occasions, mentors and mentees may have an opportunity to meet outside of school at a TeamMates sponsored group event or activity. They are allowed only with written parent/guardian permission and approval of the program coordinator.
What do matches do when they meet?
Mentors and mentees begin by just getting to know one another, learning about each other’s interests, strengths, likes, and dislikes, and talking about when they will meet and what they want to do when they get together. Once they have become acquainted and their relationship has developed, mentors may help mentees set some personal goals that they want to accomplish. Mentors and mentees will plan activities each week that will help mentees accomplish their goals, and the focus of their time together is one of friendship. Just having a friend to talk to about their goals can help young people gain confidence and develop new interests. Regardless of the specific activities, TeamMates mentors are encouraged to take a relationship-centered approach to working with their mentee. TeamMates often talk about school and offer limited help with school work, but the mentor is not a tutor.
How do I know the program is safe?
We know that you’re putting your trust in our program and in the mentor we assign to your child. For over 25 years, TeamMates has been in the business of finding qualified, safe, and dedicated adults who truly want to support the strengths and interests of young people. Everyone who wants to be a volunteer mentor goes through these steps:
- Complete application
- Criminal history background check that includes abuse and neglect
- Three personal/employer references checked
- Mentor interview
- Mentor training session that includes information about child safety and TeamMates policies
Safety doesn’t stop when the mentor is matched with a child. Our staff checks in with all mentors and mentees as long as the match is active. These check-ins help us see how things are going and if there is anything we can do to help the relationship develop. We encourage you to call your TeamMates Facilitator at the school any time you have a concern or question. You are also welcome to call the TeamMates Ethics Hotline at 1-888-788-7727, or the TeamMates of Lincoln office at 402-436-1990 with questions or concerns.
We are confident that our volunteer screening procedures and the program rules and guidelines we have developed ensure that our program is safe for your child. We ask all our parents to help keep it this way by:
- Reading the program policies/guidelines in this guide.
- Not allowing any activities outside of school other than those that the program has approved and paperwork has been provided from the school.
- Not inviting the mentor to your home, to family celebrations either at your home or in public, to eat with your family at a restaurant, etc.
- Not providing gifts to the mentor, nor expecting the mentor to provide gifts or money to your child.
- Not connecting with the mentor privately. The school-based relationship is between mentor and mentee, communicating through the school.
- Keeping the lines of communication open between you and your child, making it comfortable to let you know if there’s a problem.
- Reporting any concerns to the school TeamMates Facilitator or TeamMates Office staff immediately. This might be regarding a change in your child’s behavior or a concern about how the match is progressing. You can contact the school TeamMates Facilitator, the TeamMates of Lincoln office at 402-436-1990, or call the TeamMates Safety and Ethics Hotline at 1-888-788-7727.
Key Policies and Guidelines
Permission to Participate in TeamMates: We require parent/guardian permission for your child to participate in the TeamMates Mentoring program.
Out of School Activities/Events: TeamMates is a school based mentoring program. Meetings outside of school are rare and occur in a TeamMates sponsored group setting, requiring written permission from a parent/guardians and the approval of the TeamMates program coordinator. No individual meetings outside of school are allowed.
Out of School Communication: Mentors and mentees may only communicate at school. Contact information is not exchanged. Mentors and mentees may not phone, text, or email with one another.
Social Media: Your student may not connect with, or be “friends” with their mentor on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.
Gift Giving: TeamMates mentors are not to give gifts to their mentees, nor mentees to mentors. Gifts do not include items of nominal value provided for immediate consumption such as food and beverage, and supplies needed for mentoring activities.
Physical Contact: Mentors are specifically trained in appropriate boundaries for physical contact. We encourage physical contact be limited to a pat on the back or arm, or a handshake.
Image Release: In addition to the general permissions you have signed for the school and the TeamMates program, TeamMates requires a specific written image release from you for every use of your child’s image in photographs, videos, TV appearances, newsletters, websites, etc.
Secondary Organization: If your child has a relationship with the mentor outside of the TeamMates program, such as scouting, youth group or coach, you must inform the school TeamMates Facilitator or the TeamMates office so that a Secondary Organization form can be completed. This helps TeamMates clarify what contacts are specific to mentoring.
End of Match: It is the goal of TeamMates for matches to stay together until the mentee graduates from high school. Matches can end prematurely for a variety of reasons: a family moves away, a mentor’s life circumstances change, even the reality that sometimes a match just doesn’t “click.” If a match ends early, and the child is interested in having another mentor, TeamMates keeps the child enrolled in the program in an effort to rematch as soon as possible. When matches do end, TeamMates offers a structured process that provides closure and positive feelings for all involved. Parents/guardians will be notified, in writing, when a match ends.
TeamMates has been collecting general information on the success of mentor matches for more than 10 years. Your support of this endeavor is important. Please say “YES” on the permission slip to allowing TeamMates to collect the grades, attendance and discipline reports on your child. This information will only be reported in a general way for qualitative data purposes and will not identify individual students. We also survey youth about their satisfaction with the programs and offer opportunities to participate in Gallup Strengths. If you have questions, please contact the Safety and Ethics Hotline 1-888-788-7727.
For more information about the impact of the Lincoln TeamMates Program, please visit our Mentoring Research page.
What is a parent or guardian’s role in the mentoring relationship?
The friendship that is developed between a mentor and mentee is a special relationship just for them, but you have an important role in helping that relationship be successful. Here are some specific ways that you can help make your child’s mentoring experience successful:
With your child:
- Encourage your child to keep all meetings with the mentor.
- Be positive about the relationship, and let your child see you are happy for the support of a mentor.
- Ask open-ended questions about how things are going. For example, “What was the best thing you did with your mentor today?”
- Listen to and be supportive of your child’s feelings. Some youth are shy or nervous with their mentor at first and may go through periods of “testing” the mentor as the relationship develops. Be patient and encouraging. Talk to the school TeamMates Facilitator if you have concerns.
With the mentor:
- Remember that the mentor is there for your child, not for you or other children in your family.
- Contact information is not exchanged between mentor and mentee. Communication is through the school TeamMates Facilitator.
With TeamMates staff:
- Complete and turn in any needed paperwork in a timely manner.
- Tell us anything you think we should know about your child that may not be covered in the nomination form or permission form.
- Let the school TeamMates Facilitator know right away about any changes in your contact information or other changes that may affect the mentoring relationship, such as moving away from the area or a loss in your family.
Who do I contact if I have questions or concerns?
Your main point of contact will be the TeamMates Facilitator at your school. He/she checks in with your student and the mentor and provides information and help with concerns. The TeamMates office is also available to assist you if needed: 402-436-1990. You are welcome to attend a mentor or mentee training at any time.