This week we are highlighting how programs follow the core values of LSS in their daily work. Our core values guide our work with the people we serve and those who serve them. LSS CARES.
Today, Mentoring Services will talk about a side that we normally do not touch on to heavily when talking about the program, but it is a big thing we do each day – ethics. For the purpose of LSS, Ethical means that we will demonstrate our commitment to quality services and high standards in acts, words and deeds.
In Mentoring, we hold volunteers to high standards. This starts before a person even applies. LSS requires everyone to complete an application. And in that application, we include a form that allows us to conduct a background screen on each volunteer, and we check references for each and every volunteer. Once those have been cleared, we require every new mentor to go through training and it has to be done in person. That way, at least one staff member gets to personally meet with each volunteer before they start. We do this to ensure that every mentor that goes through the LSS system is appropriate, ready and knows the commitment they are making to mentor a child is something to take seriously.
The background screens are done confidentially and if there is any findings, they are carefully reviewed. Would one speeding ticket five years ago disqualify you for mentoring – NO! Would forgetting to pay that speeding ticket disqualify you from mentoring – YES! We do check every mentor on the publicly available active warrants register, and failure to settle up any fines would put you on that list.
We also check non-familial references for every volunteer. Sometimes that section is not completed because I imagine people think we don’t check. But we do. Every single one. We ask questions about the applicants ability to follow through with commitments, a little about their personality and how they would expect the person to interact with children. It gives us a better picture of each mentor. If someone says their friend is amazing, but tends to take on way too much, we know to really stress the importance of showing up at school on time each week with that volunteer. If someone says the applicant is quiet and not athletic, we know to not match them with a high energy student who will want to play catch outside.
The last step is training. We require every mentor to go through the same orientation that follows the most recent best practice standards developed by the National Mentoring Partnership. There is great comfort in that our partner schools all know what to expect when a volunteer mentor is sent from LSS. They have all received the same training and the program operates the same whether a mentor is going to Tea or to Terry Redlin.
At the end of the day, we know that we did our best to ensure the safety of every student who has a mentor. We screen and train our mentors using the highest standards – and the amount our staff CARES about this shows in our work each and every day.
Mentoring Services Director