Updated 4/25/2022

COVID-19 Pandemic


WHAT IS YOUR COVID VACCINATION POLICY FOR MENTORS?
 
Imagine LA requires all new volunteers joining after November 1, 2021 to be fully vaccinated. As of April 1, 2022 all new volunteers must also be boosted. Should you need an accommodation due to religious or medical reasons, please let us know.  

 
WHAT IS THE COVID VACCINATION POLICY FOR OUR FAMILIES? 
Families that enroll in our program are not required to be fully vaccinated. However, we do track their vaccination status. Once you are matched, you can request information on your mentee’s vaccination status. 

HOW HAS COVID IMPACTED MENTORSHIP?  
When planning your mentoring activities, mentors should feel empowered to have open conversations with mentees/families about everyone’s safety/health concerns. If and only if all relevant parties are 100% comfortable with in-person interactions, activities are encouraged to take place outside, all individuals shall always remain masked. When in doubt, continue virtual interactions 


YOUR MENTEE MATCH
 


SO, EACH FAMILY MEMBER HAS A SEPARATE MENTOR? 
 
Yes, each mentor-mentee match is a one-to-one match. Each member of the family, ages 5 and up, is matched with her or his own mentor. No mentee has more than one mentor and no mentor has more than one mentee. 

WHO DECIDES WHEN MENTORS AND MENTEES MEET FOR THEIR TWICE-MONTHLY INTERACTIONS? 
Each mentor-mentee relationship is unique, and you will work with your mentee to schedule your interactions based on everyone’s schedules. If your mentee is a youth, that will mean collaborating with their parent. Interactions typically take place during weekends and evenings.
Additionally, sometimes mentors and families decide that group activities, like group trips to the park or museum, will create even more fun and memories. This requires working together with your mentor team and family for scheduling.  

WHAT DOES “UP TO 18 MONTHS” MEAN? 
Part of why our program is so impactful is that we train and guide our mentors to create lasting, stable relationships with their mentees. Given the challenges, lack of consistent support, and outright trauma that many of our families have and continue to experience, our mentors are a rock for them. A person they know they can turn to, to celebrate wins and work through struggles.
Around your one-year match anniversary, your FTM will convene you and your mentee to discuss the next steps. For nearly all matches, the mentor-mentee relationship continues fully, continuing to grow and flourish until the 18-month mark, when the mentee graduates from the program. The expectation is for the whole mentor team to remain active until the family graduates from the program. 

WHAT IF I HAVE A QUESTION OR CONCERN DURING MY MENTOR EXPERIENCE? 
Your mentor team should always be your first stop to work through issues or opportunities. Not only will your fellow mentors have insights into the family’s preferences and needs, but they will also be able to share their perspectives, information, and experiences with the family to help you find a good solution. That’s why you’re called a mentor team – collaboration is the name of the game! And of course, your FTM is always there to support. 

WHAT HAPPENS IF MY MENTEE IS NOT A GOOD MATCH FOR ME? 
Imagine LA’s Mentorship Program Coordinator works hard to hand-pick every mentor-mentee match, based on gender, geography, personality, interests, career, etc. Mentors should let their FTM know immediately if they experience any challenges or have any concerns about their relationship or interactions with their mentee. When in doubt, ask for help! And, as with any relationship, treat your mentee with love, patience, and compassion – and know that Rome wasn’t built in a day.
We encourage our mentors to exhaust all efforts to maintain the commitment to the mentee they are matched with. However, we do understand that sometimes, our best intentions do not manifest. If this happens, bring your specific concerns to your FTM for troubleshooting. In 14 years of mentorship, we have had few situations that required a rematch, and could not be solved with better communication, empathy, and mutual respect. 

DO FAMILIES EVER DROP OUT?  
There are times when, for a variety of reasons, families or mentors do not end up being the best fit for our program. If your mentee ends up having irreparable challenges, and you want to be rematched, we will return you to the mentor candidate pool. 

CAN I CONTINUE BEING A MENTOR FOR MY MENTEE AFTER THE 18 MONTHS ENDS?  
Definitely! Many of our mentor and family graduates say their relationships continued to deepen and evolve after graduation, and families point to these relationships as one of the reasons they continue to thrive and reach new heights. Please note that if you do continue your relationship with your mentee, this happens outside of the structures of Imagine LA. Alumni Families have access to Imagine LA supports and services, but your FTM will have a full caseload of new families and mentor teams. Mentors are also encouraged to “re-up” and mentor another family through the formal process after taking a short break. 

WHAT IF THE MENTEE MOVES DURING MY MATCH?  
While rare, we take this and similar situations on a case-by-case basis, considering the mentor and mentee’s ability and capacity to continue meeting and other factors, such as the location of the family’s new home, its distance from the mentor’s home, and whether the family still resides within our service area. 

WHAT HAPPENS IF I MOVE DURING MY MATCH? 
Communication is key. If you have any plans to move within the next two years (e.g., change jobs, start grad school, etc.), please be transparent about this during your phone interview. We understand things happen, but the disappointment of a mentor leaving mid-match is inconvenient and disappointing at best, retraumatizing at worst. Advance communication is the key to avoiding a situation where a mentor cannot fulfill their commitment. 

IS THERE A FINANCIAL COMMITMENT FOR MENTORS? ARE THERE ANY BOUNDARIES RELATED TO MONEY? 
There is a mandatory background check that will cost $32.00. Outside of this, Mentors will never be asked to spend money on their mentees or provide resources to the family, and no money should ever exchange hands between mentors and mentees. This is covered in depth during the Mentor Training. When in doubt, your FTM is always there to guide you! 

WHAT IF I AM UNABLE TO PAY FOR MY BACKGROUND CHECK? 
Please email [email protected] if you are unable to cover the cost of your background check. We may be able to offer financial support. Inability to pay should not be a barrier to participating in our program. 

WHAT ABOUT BIRTHDAY AND HOLIDAY GIFTS? 
For kids, always broach the topic with the parent(s) first. While gifts may be appreciated, they also may bring up feelings for parents who may or may not be able to provide their children with certain things around birthdays and holidays. Before any gift-giving, share your idea with your mentor team, in case others want to join in (not required). Keep gifts infrequent and limit their value to no more than $20. Your FTM is there to help. 

CAN I MENTOR WITH MY SPOUSE, FRIEND, COLLEAGUE, ETC.? 
We match one mentor to one mentee, based first and foremost on fit (not based on your outside relationships). Thus, it is unlikely that mentors who are connected personally or professionally will be matched with members of the same family. In the rare circumstance that you and your friend/partner/etc. end up being the best fit for two people in the same family, then the answer is yes.  

HOW LONG FROM HANDSHAKE TO TRAINING TO MATCH? 
The duration varies case by case. Once you submit the Mentor Application, you will schedule a phone interview, and then – if we determine you are a fit for our program – your Mentor Training. We also conduct a background check. After completing the screening process, you are officially a “Mentor in Waiting.” Please be prepared for a patient process. The success of our program relies on the fit between our mentors and mentees, your match might happen within weeks, or it could take several months. We strive to move quickly, but for our families’ success, a strong match is more important than rapid placement. 

WHAT DO I DO IF MY FAMILY NEEDS SUPPORT OR HAS A CRISIS AND MY FTM IS NOT AVAILABLE? 
You as a mentor are not expected to have all the tools to intervene in a crisis. When they enroll in our program families are provided a thorough list of emergency contacts for various purposes; direct your family to that list or in an emergency, advise them to call 911. Then notify your FTM as soon as you can of what has transpired with the family, and they will provide direction from there. 

 

IMAGINE LA’S PROGRAM 

 
HOW MANY FAMILIES DO FTMS HAVE IN THEIR CASELOAD? 
Imagine LA FTMs have a caseload of just 15 families, which is significantly lower than the standard social worker caseload in the nonprofit sector. We do this to ensure that FTMs have the capacity to build deep, caring relationships with each of their families and mentor teams. 

WILL FAMILIES CONTINUE TO PARTICIPATE IN CASE MANAGEMENT DURING THE MENTOR MATCH? 
Yes, case management is provided from start to finish. This includes clinical needs assessments, goal setting, referrals and linkages to professional services and resources to address more serious issues, and ongoing support via collaboration with other service providers. 

ARE ALL OF OUR FAMILIES HOUSED? 
Most of our families are housed, however, we also have families who are in shelter and actively seeking housing.  

HOW DO FAMILIES FIRST LEARN ABOUT IMAGINE LA? 
Families are typically referred to us by partner organizations or case managers at shelters or supportive housing developments. Some families learn of us through word of mouth. 

ARE FAMILIES REQUIRED TO PARTICIPATE IN IMAGINE LA’S PROGRAM?  
Some of our families participate in our program voluntarily, and some are enrolled with us because of their housing voucher requirements.  

HOW ELSE CAN I SUPPORT IMAGINE LA?  
The sky’s the limit! You can: volunteer at events, support Operation Family Fun & Care Packages, provide monetary donations, provide in-kind donations, share on social media, talk about Imagine LA with your friends, family, coworkers, community groups, and other organizations you are involved in.