Frequently Asked Questions For Families

The Basics

What is a Little Brother or Little Sister?

A Little Brother or Little Sister is a youth between the ages of 8-18 who is enrolled in our mentoring program. Children in our program must reside in Sacramento, Yolo or South Placer County. An adult (parent, guardian, teacher, counselor) has identified that the youth would benefit from having a positive adult role model and mentor. They come from diverse backgrounds and experiences.

Why should I enroll my child as a little?

All children have amazing potential and the Littles in our program have the great benefit of having an adult role model and mentor in their lives who will help them recognize and realize that potential. Studies show that kids matched with a Big Brother or Big Sister are more confident, are more likely to steer clear of drugs and alcohol, do better in school, get along better with their family and friends and feel better about themselves. Studies have also shown that long term physical health can be impacted by a trusted adult for the better. A bonus: your child will have fun! Learn more about our impact HERE.

What will a Big Brother or Big Sister do with my child?

Your child’s Big Brother or Big Sister will plan outings and activities to do with your child at least one time per month which will ignite their potential and motivation to explore the complex world around them. There is no “typical” outing for our Matches, as each pair is entirely unique! Bigs are friends, and with a friend you might play sports, watch a movie, back cookies, hike, do school work, wash the car, volunteer in the community or just sit and talk. We encourage Bigs to provide opportunities for your child to be exposed to new things as well as to participate in activities they already enjoy. The most important part of a Big & Little’s outing isn’t the activity, it’s the time spent together.

What is the time commitment?

When we make a match between a Big and a Little, we want it to last! Mentoring relationships have the most positive impact on the child when they last at least 12 months. Because of this, we ask everyone involved to commit to at least one year. Many of our Matches last many years. Your child will spend a minimum 4-6 hours once a month with their Big Brother or Big Sister.

Does it cost anything for my child to be part of the program?

There is no fee or cost for the families and Littles enrolled in the program.

How long do littles wait to get matched?

Although it is fast and simple to enroll your child, it may take some time to find just the right match.  Children and adults are matched by their preferences, interests, personalities, location and BBBS staff’s professional opinion.  We take great effort in not just finding any mentor for your child but finding the right mentor for your child. This can take time. We appreciate your patience during the waiting period and can’t wait to introduce you to your child’s Big Brother or Big Sister!

How many littles do you serve?

BBBS GSA is growing! We have recently hired additional support staff and we are making lots of new matches! We currently serve 119 Littles, but expect that number to keep growing throughout 2021.

How do I sign up a child to be a Little?

You can sign up your child to be a Little Brother or Little Sister by clicking Enroll A Child on the Big Brothers Big Sisters of America webpage. You will be instructed to provide your zip code which will direct you to your closest local agency. Then you will fill out the inquiry form for your child and your own identification information. A specialist at our agency will call you within 72 hours to answer any questions you may have and to begin the enrollment process.

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What benefits will my child receive from being a Little?

Your child will receive safety support for the entirety of the match. Agency staff will be in contact with you, your child, and their mentor regularly to assess if the match is progressing well. Your child and their Big will occasionally have access to discounted or free activities provided by BBBS and the community.

What role do families play? OR What should I expect as a family member of a little?

Families are active participants in our program! We ask that the parents or guardians of our Littles communicate openly with agency staff during their match support calls, that will be quarterly or monthly depending on the length and need of the match. We encourage you to ask questions to your child about the time they spend alone with their Big Brother or Sister, as well as stay in communication with your child’s Big to coordinate match meetings and build a rapport with them. We ask that the Little’s family member refrain from participating in outings with the Match, with the exception of special circumstances.

How does Big Brothers Big Sisters keep my child safe?

The safety of your child always front and center. Ensuring child safety is a part of everything we do.  

All Bigs complete an extensive screening process that includes

  • Completion of a formal written application
  • Criminal background check
  • Reference checks
  • A thorough in-person interview with trained staff

Additionally, our specially trained Match Support Specialists help ensure that the relationship between your child and their Big is developing in a healthy, safe way for everyone involved.  They provide ongoing support and match supervision for the life of the match.  

As a parent/guardian, you should also expect to be involved!  We see parent/guardians as partners in keeping your child safe.  You have input every step of the way!  Parent/guardians approve the selection of their child’s Big and remain in close contact with BBBS professional staff to look out for the child’s best interests and safety.  You will approve all activities and outings and are expected to communicate regularly with your child and their Big.

Everyone associated with our program, including professional staff, parents, volunteers, children and board members, is required to be trained in recognizing and responding to suspected child abuse.

Eligibility

What is the age requirement for a Little?

Young people ages 7 through 16. are eligible for enrollment as a Little Brother or Little Sister. Once matched, a child can remain matched until they turn 18 or graduate from High School, whichever comes last.

What other eligibility requirements are there?

Children enrolled in the Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Greater Sacramento Area program must reside in Sacramento County, Yolo County or South Placer County (details?). They must be able to form a healthy relationship with an adult. There are no income requirements for your child to participate.

Do I, as a parent/guardian, have any eligibility requirements when it comes to enrolling my child?

Parents and guardians are essential partners in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program. There are no eligibility guidelines for parent/guardians, but we do require parent/guardians to participate in pre-match interviews and required check-ins with a Match Support Specialist. We ask that you actively seek support or ask questions if you have any concerns while your child is participating in our program. The Big Brothers Big Sisters program doesn’t work without your support!

Application, Screening & Matching Process

How do I enroll my child?

We’re glad you asked!!  Click HERE to get the process started online.  If you have additional questions, you can contact NAME at PHONE NUMBER or EMAIL ADDRESS who can get you started!

What happens after I’ve completed the application?

After you’ve submitted an application, you will be contacted by a Match Enrollment Specialist. We will schedule an interview with both you and your child via Zoom or In-office. The purpose of the interview is to get to know you, your child, and your family better, and to collect information about your child that will help us to determine the right Big to match them with. You and your child will be asked personal questions during the interview, which are designed to obtain the information we need to make the best possible match, and to ensure that your child’s involvement in our program is as beneficial as possible.

How is it decided which mentor a child will be matched with?

When our Enrollment Team completes the interview with you and your child, we will determine a potential match with a Big Brother or Big Sister. When we think we’ve found a good match, we will share non-identifying information about your child with the Big, and we’ll share non-identifying information about the Big with you and your child. After sharing that information, both you and the Big are able to approve or reject the potential match. If both you and the Big approve of the potential match, the match becomes “official.” Our staff will set up a “match meeting” where you and your child will get to meet with the Big in-person. A BBBS staff member will be there to help facilitate the meeting. At this point, you will be assigned a BBBS Match Support Specialist, who will provide ongoing support to you and your child.

How long will it take for my child to be matched?

It depends on many factors. We always want our matches to succeed, which means we will take as much time as is needed in finding the best Big for each Little. This means that your child could be placed on a waiting list until we are able to find the best match for them. Typically, it takes longer to match boys with Big Brothers than it takes to match girls with Big Sisters, because there are more women who volunteer as mentors than men. If your child is placed on the waiting list, we will remain in touch with you and we will provide periodic opportunities for your child to participate in fun activities with our staff and other Littles who are waiting.

Can I request a certain type of Big for my child?

During the interview process, we will ask all parties involved about what they are looking for in the match. Your preferences for your child’s Big will be taken into account when selecting their mentor. It is important to understand that there are many components that go into finding a great match for your child. Our trained Match Enrollment Specialists will consider requests from all parties, but they will make a final match determination based on a large variety of factors. Ultimately, you will have the option to approve or decline the potential match.

What would cause a match to end and what happens when a match ends?

We do everything in our power to make a Match that will last and most do. However, we understand that sometimes there is a Match that isn’t working out for any number of reasons. Efforts will be made to address any situation that arises and find appropriate solutions. Your Match Support Specialist will be there every step of the way to handle your questions or concerns about your match. It is rare, but there are times that we must end a match. Our staff is here to support you and will ensure it is handled in the best possible way for all parties involved. If the Match is in the process of closing, your Match Support Specialist will ask if you would like your child to continue with the program and be re-matched. Once we have confirmed your child’s continued interest, your Match Support Specialist will be in contact with the Enrollment Specialist to re-assess your child’s interests and match them with a new Big! While we can’t guarantee that your child will be Matched immediately with a new mentor, it will become our priority to find one and facilitate the process.

All About Bigs

Where do Bigs come from?

All Big Brothers and Big Sisters are community members who choose to volunteer their time to be a mentor to a young person. They go through a rigorous screening and interview process including a full background check and fingerprinting.

Our Big Brothers and Big Sisters come from diverse backgrounds (just like our Littles!) but all have one thing in common, a belief that every child has incredible potential.  Bigs come from all walks of life and do not require any special degrees or skills- just a desire to positively impact the life of a young person.  

Big Brothers and Big Sisters must be at least 21 years old and live or work in Sacramento, Yolo or South Placer County.   They must be a high-school graduate or hold a GED, have a valid driver’s license & current automatable insurance and meet specific criminal and driving history guidelines. 

How old are Big Brothers and Big Sisters?

Our Big Brothers and Big Sisters are all ages!  The only age requirement is that they must be over 21 years of age to participate in our Community-Based program. 

What is the typical Big Brother or Big Sister like?

There is no typical Big Brother or Big Sister – just like there is no typical child. Our Big Brothers and Big Sisters come from diverse backgrounds (just like our Littles!) but all have one thing in common, a belief that every child has incredible potential.  Bigs come from all walks of life with vastly different personalities and interests.  Some Bigs are retired, some have careers and some are in college. Some Bigs have children of their own, many do not. We’ve got Bigs whose love sports and outdoor activities, while others are more interested in Science or the Arts or enjoy board games, crafting or computers.   But ALL of our Bigs have a desire to build and nurture a positive, healthy and meaningful relationship with a young person through mentoring.

Big Brothers and Big Sisters must be at least 21 years old and live or work in Sacramento, Yolo or South Placer County.   They must be a high-school graduate or hold a GED, have a valid driver’s license & current automobile insurance and meet specific criminal and driving history guidelines. 

How will I know if the relationship between my child and their Big is going well?

Any type of relationship requires dedication, consistency, and clear communication. It’s no different between Bigs and Littles. It can take a little bit of time for your child and their Big to get acquainted with each other and for the relationship to feel like it’s going well. Our staff will check in with you, your child, and your child’s Big on a regular basis and provide any needed support. It’s very important that you ask your child questions about the time they spend with their Big – what they did, how it went, what your child liked or didn’t like, how they felt about it, etc. If your child indicates anything about the relationship that raises a concern, please share that with your Match Support Specialist (the BBBS staff member who will be assigned to support your child’s match with their Big).

What kind of a screening process do Bigs go through?

Big Brothers Big Sisters National Standards of Excellence require each volunteer to complete a thorough screening process that includes:

  • Completion of a formal written application
  • Background, fingerprint, and reference checks
  • An extensive in-person interview
  • An orientation and training process that outlines the individualized needs of your child and provides information and resources on how to encourage your child’s development.
How do you ensure that my child will be safe with their mentor?

Child safety is extremely important to us. Big Brothers Big Sisters conducts a thorough interview and background check on every volunteer in our program, and each relationship is closely monitored by a professionally trained Match Support Specialist. Big Brothers Big Sisters also provides child safety tips to you and your child, and we ask you to stay involved in monitoring the safety of your child by asking them questions about their outings and talking to them about their relationship with their Big.  Parent/Guardians are encouraged to come to our staff with any questions, concerns or feedback. 

If my child’s Big hasn’t experienced the same challenges that my child or I have, how will they be able to relate to my child?

Positive relationships exist all the time between people who come from different walks of life. Even when two people have similar backgrounds or experiences, their lives are never identical. Spending time together and developing a friendship doesn’t require a Big to have the same life experiences as you or your child. In fact, having different experiences and perspectives can help enrich the relationship for everyone involved! Plus, every relationship takes time to develop, which is part of why we require a commitment of at least one year.

What if I see or hear something about my child’s Big, or about their relationship, that concerns me?

Bring it to the attention of your Match Support Specialist – it’s their job to assess any concerns and to respond appropriately. Be as open and honest as possible with your Match Support Specialist – don’t ever be afraid of “causing trouble” by bringing up a concern you have. If your gut is telling you that something isn’t right, please speak up and let us know.

EMPOWERING POTENTIAL

When you support Big Brothers Big Sisters, you change lives for children in our community.