FAQ for Parents
Your input is key to our success. However, please note that specific preferences cannot be granted during the selection process. Our Enrollment staff will interview the volunteers, parents, and children involved. From the information gathered in those interviews, a member of the Enrollment team will decide which volunteer is best for your child. We will then discuss the selected volunteer with you and get your permission to proceed with the matching process. The parent and child ultimately consents to the Big during the selection process.
We request that the Big meet with your child two to four times per month for a minimum of one year. It is up to you, your child, and the Big to decide when the meetings will take place.
Our professional staff works hard to thoroughly screen every volunteer and to monitor Big and Little friendships regularly. We do, however, advise parents to also interact with the Big to further ensure safety and to always communicate with the child following outings with his/her Big to ensure parental expectations are met. Working in tandem with the parent is a process that helps ensure the most successful match between your child and a qualified volunteer mentor.
Big Brothers Big Sisters aims to make the best match possible based on volunteers we have available. If at any time you as a parent feel uncomfortable with a Big, we will use mediation sessions to see if the match is worth saving. During this mediation, we try to resolve any presented issues. However, if you are still uncomfortable, we will immediately take the necessary actions with our experienced and well-trained staff to intervene and close the match.
No. Our services are free to you and your child. We do ask that when possible you share the expenses with your child's Big to ease the financial burden that is incurred when the Big takes your child to places where money is required.
FAQ for Volunteers
In the beginning it is important for you and your Little to get to know each other. This can happen best on a one-to-one basis. Over time it is also valuable for your Little to get to know the people who are important to you. Keep in mind that if you’re spending lots of time with others your Little may begin to feel jealous or neglected. Remember that the main focus is the friendship YOU have with your Little. The local agency you work with may also have specific guidelines to assist you.
Children and their parents or guardians may hear about BBBS from a teacher, a counselor, their church, another parent, a friend, commercials, etc. All children and their parents choose to be in our program and we strive to reach the children who can benefit from a positive role model in their life.
We don’t encourage spending a lot of money on your outings. The goal of the relationship is friendship. You should focus your time on getting to know each other. We encourage you to seek out free or low-cost activities, especially in the beginning. Shoot hoops at a local park, play a game together, or share that pizza that you were going to have for lunch anyway. BBBS agencies often offer group activities that are a great way to meet other Bigs and Littles. You may also receive notices for opportunities for free tickets for your match to attend a variety of cultural and sports activities.
It begins with an enrollment and interview process. We need to get to know you—your likes, dislikes, your personality, background, where you live and work. This helps us get a feel for you and figure out what situation and what child would best suit you. We determine which program you would prefer - Community-Based Mentoring or Site-Based Mentoring. This also gives you the chance to know us and our program. The final decision to join BBBS is yours.
Share an activity that gives you something in common to talk about. Buy a comic book to read to each other. Play a board game. Hit a bucket of balls at the local driving range. Take a ride in the car with the radio on and talk about the music you like. You want to select activities that give each of you a chance to learn more about one another. For children, playing can be learning. Most important: keep it simple and enjoy yourselves!
Once you are matched with your Little, a Match Support Specialist from the agency will be in regular contact with you to provide assistance and give feedback. Anytime you are unsure about what to do or how to handle a situation, you will have a Match Support Specialist there to help. You’ll receive ideas for activities, guidance for handling possible difficult situations, and feedback on how you are making a difference, just by showing up!
You will be joining over 700 other volunteers in the BBBS Central Illinois family!
Our Bigs and Littles decide together what they want to do and they get parent approval. We recommend that you keep a consistent schedule of outings and that you see each other on a regular basis. Your local agency will provide you specific guidelines on expected frequency of activities with your Little. Until your relationship is established the outings will also depend on the comfort level of your Little’s parents, your Little and you.
Our Bigs come from diverse backgrounds just like our Littles. They are regular people, just like you. You don’t need any special degrees or special skills. You just need to have a desire to have a positive impact on a young person in need. What you have or haven’t accomplished isn’t an issue. Role models come in all shapes and sizes, and you could be a perfect fit!
Our Littles come from many types of home environments and family structures, different social-economic levels, ethnic backgrounds and neighborhoods and schools across all communities. We have boys and girls in our program. We try to match Bigs with Littles of the same sex and same ethnicity whenever we can—currently males, specifically African American male volunteers, are our greatest need. Our Littles’ backgrounds and personalities are unique, but the thing they all share in common is a need for friendship with a caring adult.