‘She was like a mother and a father to me’: searching for the ideal mentor for youth in care

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Recent studies of youth in out-of-home placements have indicated that a successful mentoring relationship in care is associated with better emotional, educational and behavioural outcomes in adulthood. The goal of this exploratory qualitative study is to describe the profile of a staff member who is able to establish a meaningful relationship with youth in care through the perspectives of 20 young adults aged 21–26 who left care in Israel. Findings revealed that the staff member who formed meaningful relationships with youth was the staff member who was available to the youth and familiar with their personal backgrounds, who was able to see them as positive and trustworthy and to provide guidance and support from a non-judgmental approach. One of the study's conclusions is that staff members who were able to transform their connection with the youth into mentoring relationships were those who were able to make the youth feel as if they were the staff member's own children, and as a result feel cared for deeply and loved. The discussion addresses the barriers in forming a mentoring relationship with a formal professional and the ways to utilize these mentoring relationship components more effectively within the care system.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)862-870
Number of pages9
JournalChild and Family Social Work
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 2017


  • mentoring
  • out-of-home placements
  • staff
  • transition to adulthood
  • youth in care

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health(social science)
  • Sociology and Political Science


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