Frequently Asked Questions
What is Big Brothers Big Sisters of Rhode Island?
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Rhode Island is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to pairing adult mentors with children between the ages of 7 and 14 years of age. BBBSRI seeks to provide children facing adversity with strong and enduring, professionally supported one-to-one mentoring relationships that change their lives for the better, forever. We at Big Brothers Big Sisters are constantly working to create a community where all children achieve success, because when our children succeed, we are all better off.
Is Big Brothers Big Sisters of Rhode Island affiliated with Big Brothers Big Sisters of America?
Yes. Big Brothers Big Sisters of America is our parent organization and they’ve been serving youth nationally for more than a 100 years. Big Brothers Big Sisters of Rhode Island continues that tradition by matching volunteer mentors with children facing adversity, enabling them to realize their full potential.
Does the program work?
Yes! Mentoring is one of the most effective means of positively influencing the future of a child. In fact, local outcomes for Littles mentored by a Big are impressive:
- 82% showed improved self-confidence
- 79.8% were better able to express their feelings
- 66.3% developed better decision-making skills
- 63.1% improved their academic performance
Our goals are simple—to develop caring, confident, and competent children who stay in school, off drugs, and out of trouble, by matching them with the caring, consistent, safe role models they need.
How do children come into the program?
Children and parents may hear about Big Brothers Big Sisters from a teacher, a counselor, a community group, a friend, commercials, etc. All children and their parents must want to be in our program.
Who are the children in the program? Our Littles come from many types of home environments and family structures, different socio-economic levels, ethnic backgrounds, neighborhoods and schools throughout the state. Their backgrounds and personalities are unique, but they all have a need for friendship with a caring adult who believes in them.
What is my role as a Parent/Guardian of a Little?
When it comes to the future of our children and the well-being of our community, we’re all in this together. So it should come as no surprise that we need the parents and guardians of Littles to be involved every step of the way, starting with the initial match. Not only will you provide information about your child’s strengths and needs, but you’ll also approve the selection of the Big Brother or Big Sister. Once the match is made, you remain closely involved in many ways, including:
- Approving activities and outings for your child and their Big
- Asking your child questions about those outings, and sharing what you learn with the agency staff
- Reporting your child’s progress and milestones to the agency on a regular basis (Big Brothers Big Sisters will contact you, but we welcome your feedback any time)
- Participating in training on child safety offered by Big Brothers Big Sisters of Rhode Island staff, and communicating with your child about that training.
What is the cost to participate in the program?
No cost! Our program is offered to families free of charge.
Why is my child on the waiting list?
Your child may be on our waiting list after either inquiring to be a 'Little' or after they have been enrolled for several reasons. We may not have a Big ready to be matched within proximity to where you are located or with the same interests. Also, we receive a greater number of potential Big Sisters than Big Brothers and so Little Brothers may wait a bit longer to be interviewed or matched. We do appreciate your patience. Please know that we are doing everything we can to find the right mentor for your child.
How often will a volunteer meet with my child?
BBBSRI asks our volunteers to meet with their “Little” 4-6 hours a month. This can be done weekly or every other week. An average Big/Little pair meets 3-4 hours every other week.
What is the screening process for volunteers?
Big Brothers Big Sisters National Standards of Excellence require each volunteer to complete an extensive screening process that includes:
- Completion of a formal written application
- Background and reference checks
- An 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 are Bigs and Littles matched?
Our match support program coordinator spends considerable time getting to know our volunteers and our children in order to make the best possible match. “Littles” and “Bigs” are matched on the basis of proximity, personality, common interests, while at the same time considering the needs of the child and our volunteers’ strengths.
What do Bigs and Littles typically do together?
Just about anything they both enjoy. Bigs are friends, and with a friend you can play sports, watch a movie, bake cookies, hike, do school work, wash the car, volunteer in the community, or just sit and talk. Additionally, the agency provides one free group match activity per month that you and your Little may participate in if you like.
What type of training and support do you offer your volunteers?
Each volunteer is provided with an orientation prior to being introduced to their Little. A match support program coordinator is assigned and is available to answer questions or provide additional training and resources for concerns of particular interest to your match. Your coordinator will provide support throughout your match relationship, and will touch base with you, your Little, and the Little's parent/guardian regularly.
Who Can I Contact with More Questions?
Please email Mentoring@bigsri.org or call 401-921-2434.