Change your child’s life.
Where do Bigs come from?
Bigs are adult volunteers who pass our background checks and complete our training and orientation programs. They want to be a part of changing a child’s life for the better, and want to be a positive influence in the life of your child.
What are the requirements for my child to enter the program?
The child must meet the following requirements:
- Must be 8-15 years old
- Must be a resident of Berks County
- Must live in a single parent household
- Parent and child must be willing to attend any support/training workshops or meetings required by BBBS
- Parent and child must be willing to cooperate with the agency in the supervision and monitoring process of the mentoring match relationship
- Must have a desire to be matched with a Big Brother/Big Sister and sustain that mentoring match relationship for at least one year
- Must lack a supportive and nurturing relationship with the absent parent or significant members of the child’s extended family
- Must be capable of deriving some benefit from the services of the BBBS programs
How is my child matched with a Big?
A match is made based on a number of factors, including the preferences of the Big, the Little, and the Little’s parent or guardian; geographic location; likes and dislikes; hobbies and interests of both the Big and Little; and more.
When a Big Brother or Sister is ready to be matched, the BBBS staff will present the Big with two to four choices of Littles. After the Big makes his or her selection, the Casework Manager will contact the Little’s parent to discuss the potential match. If the parent or guardian approves. Next, the Casework Manager will speak with the Little about the potential match. With the approval of all three parties (Big, Little, and parent or guardian), the Casework Manager will present the match for approval to the Executive Director or his delegate. Upon approval of the match by the Executive Director, the Casework Manager will schedule a Match Meeting, which is the first time that all three parties (Big, Little, and parent or guardian) will meet.
How are Bigs screened?
Like the parent or guardian who wants to get his or her child involved in the agency, every potential volunteer must go through an application process. This process includes a written application with at least four references (for our Community-based volunteers); background checks (Criminal, CHILDLINE, DMV, and more); an interview; and, for One-To-One volunteers, a home assessment. In addition, every volunteer is required to attend training(s) prior to acceptance. A Big in the Club of Unmatched Littles (COUL) program must attend Volunteer General Training, while a Big for the One-To-One program is required to attend Volunteer General AND Volunteer One-To-One training before being matched.
What does it cost to enroll my child in the program?
Our program is free.
How long will my child have a Big?
We ask that Bigs and Littles make a one-year commitment when matched, but matches can stay in the program until the child graduates from high school.
How much time does a Big spend with my child?
Our matches meet an average of eight to ten hours per month, and no less than four hours per month in our Community-based One-To-One program. Our school-based matches meet once a week for about an hour during the school year. Littles awaiting a One-To-One match in our COUL program can attend weekly activities, usually on a Tuesday evening, and at least one Saturday activity per month. Although highly encouraged because they provide immediate mentoring services to our Littles, albeit in a group atmosphere, attendance at these activities is NOT mandatory.
What if my child does not like his/her Big?
Our unique and detailed application and matching process is designed to minimize issues such as this. With that said, however, we do ask our match participants (Big, Little, and parent or guardian) to make a one-year commitment to the match. Chances are that early issues in a match are communications-related. Our BBBS professional staff will be there to help iron out any issues and guide the match participants toward a healthy, strong, and mutually rewarding experience.
What if my child’s Big quits?
When a Community-based match closes, no matter what the circumstances or length of the match, our BBBS professional staff will discuss the road ahead with both the Little and the Little’s parent or guardian. A child whose match ended but who will remain as a Little Brother or Sister will be returned to the COUL program and will be able to participate in our group-mentoring activities while awaiting a possible new One-To-One match. Likewise, when a school-based match closes, the Casework Manager will assess the situation. If the Little will be remaining with the program, he or she will be placed on the waiting list until another match is found.