One of the many concerns that single parents have is to maintain a stable, positive home environment for their children. Without the presence of the other parent in the house, the children may feel lost, rebellious, or abandoned. The Big Brothers Big Sisters Program can help ease single parents’ minds by providing positive role models who mentor school-aged children. The Big Brothers Big Sisters program carefully matches adult volunteers (“Bigs”) with children (“Littles”) who will meet either in a school setting (site-based) or in the community to spend quality time together. These one-on-one visits aim to fulfill the child’s needs for extra guidance, stability, and confidence.
Parents can request that their children be matched with a Big Brother or Big Sister at any time by filling out the online application or calling the local BBBS office. School districts work in tandem with the Big Brothers Big Sisters program to where guidance counselors and teachers can recommend certain students to participate in the program who they feel may be struggling academically and/or emotionally and could benefit from spending time with a Big Brother or Big Sister.
These volunteer Big Brother/Sister role models are carefully screened before being chosen as a “Big”. They have to pass a background check and are interviewed and trained. The process of matching a “Little” with the ideal “Big” can be very quick or may take awhile, depending on the length of the “Littles” waiting list, geographic location, interests, and goals.
Big Brothers Big Sisters programs are offered nationwide, and many local schools here in southwest Florida (in Lee and Collier counties) provide both site-based and community-based programs, which can increase the child’s self-confidence, social skills, and academic performance. The site-based program involves weekly visits in which the matched Big and Little can play games, talk, paint/draw, and do homework together. The community-based program allows the Big and Little pair to go to the park, go bowling, enjoy a play, ride bikes, and play/watch sports games, among many other activities. This community program may also include volunteer couples who are matched with a child so that a healthy, positive relationship between two adults can be modeled.
Being involved with the Big Brothers Big Sisters program has proved to be life changing for many children. According to www.hereforthekids.org:
“Statistics at BBBS SWFL for the past year show great success. In the community-based program, 80% of the children assessed maintained or improved in the area of confidence (self confidence, ability to express feelings, decision making, personal hygiene and appearance, interests and hobbies, sense of future), in the area of caring (relationships with parents and siblings, shows trust, respects other cultures, relationship with adults and peers) and in the areas of competence (school preparedness, ability to avoid substance abuse, ability to avoid delinquency, academic improvement, use of community and school resources, classroom participation and behavior).
“Littles” in the school-based program maintained and/or showed improvement in the following areas: academic performance by 90%, school attendance by 72%, behavior by 88%.”
Therefore, single parents can feel confident that the Big Brother Big Sister programs will benefit their children by successfully providing positive overall guidance, emotional support, and long-lasting friendships.