Originally Published in the Colchester Weekly

May 30, 2018

Office Insider with Stephanie Mitchell: Caseworker

Stephanie Mitchell has been a Caseworker with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Colchester for a year and half. She is one of three Caseworkers here at the Agency and she looks after matches in our Core Program which includes Big Brother Matches, Big Sister Matches and Big Couple Matches.

“In the Core Program we offer one on one time for our Littles, special time dedicated just for them is important. It helps build confidence, develops life skills and the importance of what friendship should look like. All of this happens naturally when having fun. The most important aspect of a match is that everyone is safe and having fun,” said Stephanie.

A day at the office can vary day to day for our caseworkers. Stephanie may be checking in with a match, as she does with all her matches on a regular basis. She could be calling volunteer references, interviewing interested volunteers, out in the community meeting with families or planning a monthly group activity. And this is just skimming the surface.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Colchester finds the best match for each child and volunteer, rather than operating on a first come first serve basis. Typically our volunteer screening and training process takes 6-8 weeks, as there are many steps prior to a match taking place. A volunteer would start the process by inquiring on our website. They would then be contacted by a caseworker to set up an info session. This session allows the volunteer to learn more about the opportunity and allows the caseworker to find out why the volunteer wants to get involved. At this point if the volunteer is still interested the caseworker would set up an interview session and collect information such as references, police checks and what you think makes you a good volunteer for a child. This is the longest part of the process, this is really where we get to know our volunteers. It helps us make the best match we can for everyone. The volunteer is then presented to a screening committee. If they are successful they are accepted into the program and we begin training. Caseworkers try and make a match within a two week period after training ends, but sometimes it can take longer. The child and volunteer are matched based on their personality traits, interests, location and other important factors.

“When we do our pre-match training with our Littles we talk about who they have in their circle of support and at the end I tell them now we can add two more people, me and your Big. Mentoring isn’t about replacing anyone it’s simply an addition to what is already there,” explained Stephanie.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Colchester has served 204 youth thus far for 2018.  The agency is focusing on expanding into more rural communities in Colchester and increasing the number of youth served.

“I’m really looking forward to getting into some of the rural communities. We are always looking for ways we can expand and provide service to more children and youth. I’m from a small town in Cape Breton and I would have given anything to have a program like Big Brothers Big Sisters offered there. There aren’t always as many resources available in smaller towns and we want to change that by focusing more attention there,” said Stephanie.

Caseworkers like Stephanie who are passionate about working with children and youth and who see the real impact mentoring makes, are what allows the agency to continue to make a real difference in Colchester.