Pre-Match Mentor Training

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This publication was prepared under grant #2014-JU-FX-0004 from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), U.S. Department of Justice. Points of view or opinions expressed in this document are those of the author/s and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of OJJDP or the U.S. Department of Justice.


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The toolkit builds on a Positive Youth Development (PYD) framework for providing services to youth and their families. This curriculum will support you in implementing a PYD approach in working with youth and families impacted by incarceration, and to train and support the mentors who will be matched with these youth. 

To accomplish these goals, there are four modules which convey the information you need to know and how to apply that information for pre-match training and on-going match support. Each module contains:

  • An extended staff training; 
  • A facilitation guide complete with presentation slides and integrated training scripts and instructions; and,
  • Materials and handouts so you can effectively convey key messages and actions to the participating mentors.

Below is a synopsis of each module. This synopsis is intended to illustrate the overall plan so you can clearly understand the linkage between each module. Each module is designed to take approximately 30 minutes. The training can be delivered in two sessions or together over a 2 ½ hour period which allows for a break in the midpoint in the training. Modules 1 and 2 serve as the background information program staff and mentors need to understand as they begin working with youth who have or have had an incarcerated parent. The focus of these modules is on the impacts of incarceration on children and youth. Modules 3 and 4 provide clear application of Positive Youth Development practices for programs and mentors as the method for helping these youth believe in and act on their positive assets. The focus of these modules is on identifying and building upon positive assets for children of incarcerated parents.  

Module 1:  Impact of Incarceration on Children and Families

This module’s focus is on what a youth with an incarcerated family member (s) may be feeling, and thus how and why they may act in certain ways. Key points covered in this section are:

  • Facts about parental incarceration and its impact on families so you can identify and be prepared to recommend applicable services and resources for mentees and their families;
  • The emotional impact of parental incarceration on children and youth so that you can advise mentors on ways to identify and work with behaviors caused by trauma; and
  • How you can coach mentors to mediate negative impacts of parental incarceration on children and youth through development of positive assets.


Module 2: Impact of Stress and Trauma on Children

In this module, you will learn information about how child development is affected by the stress and trauma of parental incarceration so that you can recommend and apply effective strategies.  This module is intended for you to be able to help mentors better understand situations that children and families may encounter so they can work toward positive outcomes for their mentee. Key points covered in this section include:

  • The impact that stress and trauma have on child development so you can strategize on ways to be of help; 
  • How to identify emotions and behaviors that children of incarcerated parents may exhibit due to stress and trauma; and 
  • Identify needs and refer youth and their families to crisis response and community resources as needed.


Module Three: Positive Youth Development and Resiliency

This module focuses on Positive Youth Development, PYD, an approach for working with youth that focuses on growth and development. By strengthening their personal assets, youth are better able to develop the characteristics needed to thrive. PYD may be particularly effective for youth with an incarcerated parent because of the trauma (and subsequently the behaviors) you learned about in Modules 1 and 2.  Since PYD methods can represent a shift in behavior for adults who work with youth, key points covered in this section include:

  • The essential elements of PYD so that you can begin incorporating these elements into your work;
  • What PYD mentoring conversations sound and look like so that you can train and support mentors to use this approach; and
  • How youth with incarcerated parent(s) or other family members may be especially impacted so that you can prepare mentors to work with their mentees effectively.


Module Four: Mentor as Connector

This module focuses on the match relationship and the role of the mentor as a connector for their mentee to build social supports. An integral component of mentoring using the PYD approach is the ability for mentors to connect their mentees and families to people and organizations. This form of networking, referred to as being a connector, has substantial benefit to the mentee. Key points covered in this section include:

  • Using asset development to strategize ways to work with the mentor on being a positive connector for their mentee;
  • Training and coaching mentors on ways to identify and connect their mentee to positive people and organizations; and
  • Working with youth during match support using the PYD approach by building resilience through exposure to positive people, experiences, and organizations.


We recommend that you first read the staff training and use the questions provided to reflect on what you have learned. When you feel you have a complete understanding of the material and its application to your mentoring program, return to each facilitation guide and prepare for mentor training. 

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