Making a Match: Finding the Right Fit Between a Big and Little | Big Brothers Big Sisters Kansas City

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Making a Match: Finding the Right Fit Between a Big and Little

The right mentoring relationship can help youth to identify their strengths, boost their self-confidence, persevere through life’s challenges, and reach their full potential. I think I can speak on behalf of the program team and say that making a match is the highlight of the Case Manager’s role, after all, it’s what we’re here to do--to create life-changing friendships. As such, making the right match takes time and thoughtfulness. Case managers are trained not to make a match just for the sake of making a match, but rather to make a match that will endure.

Making a Match…

As part of the intake process, both the volunteer and the client have a profile written about them.  The profile summarizes demographic, as well as personal & family background information, education and employment history, extracurricular activities, interests, etc.

The initial stage of making a match is called the “pre-match” process, and it’s when the Case Manager (CM) reviews the profile of the Volunteer they’re working to match to a Client. (Volunteers are referred to as a “volunteer”, and the child as a “client” until the match is made and then they are individually referred to as Big and a Little, and together they’re a Match).

Once the CM has reviewed the volunteer profile they begin to search through our database for client profiles that align with the volunteer’s.  At any given time, there may be a few hundred Littles on the waiting list so the CM is charged with narrowing this down to (typically) 1-3 profiles to be emailed to the volunteer for consideration.  The CM narrows down the pool of waiting clients by using the pre-matching criteria (outlined below).  Sometimes a volunteer may only receive 1 profile to review and the reason behind this has to do with the number of clients waiting in or around their area, along with the match preferences that were identified by not only the volunteer, but the parent and client as well.

Once the CM has identified profiles to share with the volunteer the CM emails the profiles to the volunteer who then has 5 days to review the profiles and make a decision before those client profiles are once again made available to the entire CM team.  Once the volunteer chooses a client to be matched with the CM then calls the parent and the client to tell them all about the volunteer.  The parent/client is given the opportunity to think it over and if they both agree to move forward, the CM schedules what is called a “teaming”.  A teaming is the initial meeting between the parent/client, and volunteer at the client’s home; the CM is also present.

Recent Match: Blake, Megan and Brandon
Recent Match: Heather and Kirsten
Recent Match: Michael and Rhys

Location, Location, Location

We’ve all heard the expression location, location, location.  While this may hold true for real estate, when it comes to finding the right fit in a match (as well as making a lasting match), it is location, common interests, and preferences.  We refer to these components as the pre-matching criteria.

  1. Location: We strive to match our Bigs & Littles within a 15 to 20-minute drive of one another. The reasoning behind this is so that matches can spend more time out together doing fun activities, exploring, and building their friendship rather than commuting.
  2. Common Interests: Case Managers look for common interests between Bigs & Littles, and while the Big & Little do not have to have all of the same interests, at least 1-2 things to draw on as they embark on their friendship, is a good start.
  3. Preferences (age, personality, race/ethnicity, pets, religion, activity level, etc.): The parent & child, and the volunteer’s demographic and lifestyle preferences are taken into consideration during the pre-match phase.

It is always our goal to set up a match for success from the start; we do this by taking into account the pre-match criteria.  Once the foundation has been established, it’s also crucial that the match is given the tools and guidance to thrive which is why each match can take comfort in knowing that their match will be professionally supported by a member of our Program Team for the life of the match.