Recently, however, and for the first time in the program’s 17-year history, an extensive evaluation was conducted by an independent source, Dr. Sheetal Ranjan, Ph.D., from the Department of Sociology at William Paterson University and her committee of staff and graduate research students. The team studied extensive data collected from the program, evaluated in-house surveys, and conducted focus groups of mentors and mentees as well as one-on-one interviews with staff, mentors, mentees (referred to here as mothers) and other stakeholders.
Here are few of their findings:
- Virtually all mothers in the program felt that the mentors have made a positive difference in their lives.
- A very large proportion (82%) of the mothers in the program attributed their success in achieving their goals to the help of their mentor.
- 50% of the mothers see much improvement in setting and maintaining routines in their home as well as guiding children’s behavior without use of violence or yelling.
- 92% of mothers found their relationship with their mentors to be open and 87% said the relationship was helpful.
- More than 80% of the mothers felt the mentoring relationship helped them make realistic plans for their lives and their future.
- 28.9% of the mothers had seen improvement in their ability to handle stress as a result of the program.
More compelling than the results of surveys, were the comments shared with Dr. Ranjan and her team during small focus groups with the mothers and mentors:
- Mothers discussed the practical help their mentors have provided, making comments such as, “My mentor helped my get my GED and I went back to school” or “I couldn’t afford to eat and she told me about a food pantry.”
- Other mothers mentioned their mentors as a source of advice, especially with parenting and how they respond to their children, noting “I don’t feel so overwhelmed anymore” or “I can vent to my mentor and she will listen….then I feel like I can do my job as a mother.”
Perhaps the most compelling comments came when the mothers were asked about their relationship with their mentors, saying “She’s a friend, teacher, counselor to me.” “Women helping each other are a life saver.”
The team concluded that there is no doubt that the program is very successful and mentors and mentees (mothers) alike feel other women could benefit from it.