Psychosocial Benefits of a Mentoring Program for Youth-headed Households

Category 2

This program was focused around a model of adult mentorship and support to improve psychosocial outcomes among youth-headed households. After a thorough screening process, WVR trained adults as volunteer mentors. Evaluations in 2003, 2004 and 2006 tested this model of adult mentorship and support to improve psychosocial outcomes among youth-headed households.

Goal of the Practice
  • This intervention model was intended to strengthen the supportive environment for children's healthy growth and development, and mitigate the psychological impacts of disrupted caregiving structures.
Core Components
  • In collaboration with community leaders, WVR identified 990 youth-headed households living within this area in 2001 and began to provide these households with a basic needs program, including assistance with housing, education, health, and food. WVR trained 156 adults (60 percent male, 40 percent female) as volunteer mentors.
  • Through regular home visits, these mentors developed a stable, caring relationship with children and youth in their local community living without an adult caregiver. The mentors monitored the well-being of vulnerable children and youth; gave them love, attention, and encouragement; provided guidance and support; transferred life skills; and helped ensure their health and safety.
Noteworthy Results
  • Overall, the mentoring program appears to have enhanced social protection and community connectedness and minimized psychological problems among youth participants. Findings from a quasi-experimental study showed that mentoring from adults can measurably mitigate adverse psychosocial outcomes among youth heads of households, as follows:
  • Youth heads of households who participated in the mentorship program perceived a significant increase in adult support.
  • Intervention participants reported a significant decrease in feelings of marginalization.
  • Youth who participated in the intervention reported a significant decrease in maltreatment.
  • Intervention participants reported a significant decrease in depressive symptoms.
Lessons Learned
  • The mentorship program is a scalable approach to improving psychosocial outcomes among vulnerable youth.
  • A higher frequency of mentor visits was associated with more positive perceptions of the mentor-youth relationship.
  • Other children living in the households were minimally impacted by the mentorship program.
  • The psychosocial well-being of vulnerable youth is affected by a variety of stressors other than a lack of adult care and supervision.
  • Programs need to be realistic about what aspects of psychosocial distress a mentoring program can alleviate.
Focus Areas
Implemented By
World Vision Rwanda (WVR)
Participating Organization
  • The Population Council in partnership with the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW)
  • PATH
  • The International HIV/AIDS Alliance
  • Tulane University
  • Family Health International
  • Johns Hopkins University.
Target Population
  • Adults (over 18)
  • Adolescents (ages 13-17)
  • Children (ages 2-12)
  • Infants (newborn to 24 months)
500 - 1000
Implementation Years
01/2001 - 12/2008