We’re so excited you’re thinking of enrolling your child with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Texas!
Having a Big Brother or Big Sister will make a positive and lasting impact on the life of your child. As a Little Brother or Little Sister, your child will spend one-on-one time with a caring adult who serves as a mentor and role model in his or her life. Your child will laugh, learn and play with a supportive friend.
As a parent or caretaker, you’ll be a valuable partner to Big Brothers Big Sisters, helping us find the right mentor for your child, approving activities and outings and sharing your thoughts with our support staff.
Children thrive with a mentor in their life. Research shows that youth in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program have more confidence, earn better grades and demonstrate better social skills than their peers. They are also less likely to use drugs or alcohol, skip school, become parents at an early age or exhibit violent behavior.
By enrolling your child in Big Brothers Big Sisters, you are making a long-term investment in your child’s well-being, both today and in the future. You’re not just part of the process, you’re part of the success!
Youth Mentoring Services
In our program, your child simply spends time with a Big Sister or Big Brother, meeting 3-4 times a month for a minimum of one year. With their Big, they might explore the community and the outdoors, work on homework together or just relax and visit. This consistent, supportive companionship has a direct and lasting impact on your child’s life, encouraging him or her to make positive choices and take steps to a brighter future.
Little Brothers and Little Sisters:
- perform better in school than the national average
- get along better with their families and peers
- are less likely to skip school
- are less likely to begin using illegal drugs or alcohol
While simply spending time with a positive role model like a Big Brother or Big Sister helps your child succeed at school, our annual Scholarship Program and Promising Futures Scholarship Ceremony offer even more encouragement to graduate high school and pursue a post-secondary education. Eligible youth can earn $2,000 in scholarship funds, with the potential for an additional $500 per year up to a maximum of $4,000, to use at any two or four-year college, university or accredited trade or technical school.
In our Big Futures program, your child maintains a relationship with his or her Big even after high school graduation. This extended mentorship helps youth navigate the transition into young adulthood and focuses on guiding them toward one of the “Three E’s” – Enrollment in post-secondary education, Employment and career readiness, or Enlistment in military service.
Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Central Texas also offers mentorship programs for children with unique needs or special circumstances. For example, our Military Mentoring program matches civilians, military personnel, and veterans with children from military families, while our Bigs in Blue program allows law enforcement personnel to serve as mentors to youth in the community.
Sister to Sister
Regularly scheduled Sister to Sister activities provide monthly opportunities for your daughter and her Big to spend time together. Designed especially for Big Sisters with Littles who are 11 years or older, these activities include everything from kayaking, to self-defense workshops, to art classes, and focus on promoting education, career exploration, social and emotional well-being and healthy choices.
Brother to Brother
Big Brothers with Littles aged 12 and older can get to know each other better at Brother to Brother activities scheduled quarterly throughout the year. With a focus on promoting healthy lifestyles, strengthening social skills and exploring career possibilities, Brother to Brother activities have included indoor rock climbing, cooking lessons, science experiments at UT, kayaking and more.
Youth Activity Center Nights (YAC)
On the second Thursday of every month, BBBS’ Youth Activity Center hosts free activities for matches, including games, art projects, classes, workshops and other special events. Time spent at YAC events gives Bigs and Littles a chance to build their relationship, while also getting to know other matches and the BBBS staff.
BBBS holds a variety of events for matches throughout the year, including Bowl for Kids, the Promising Futures Scholarship Ceremony, Hobie Day and the Holiday Party. Contact your Match Support Specialist, follow our newsletter, or go to our Events page to learn more.
- Bowl for Kids
- Hobie Day
- Holiday Party
- Promising Futures Scholarship Ceremony
Shannon & Mykayla
From a very young age, Mykayla took on adult responsibilities at home helping care for her chronically ill mother. Things changed for the better when Shannon came into her life as a Big Sister. Spending time with Shannon gave Mykayla a chance to just be a child. Together they explored Austin’s creative community, visited museums, attended festivals and discovered unique treasures in local antique stores.
Mykayla and Shannon formed a special relationship, one that has been equally meaningful to both of them. Seven years after their match began, Shannon remains an enthusiastic mentor and friend to Mykayla.
“I wouldn’t be the person I am today without Shannon,” says Mykayla as she prepares for a new chapter in her life, attending college and pursuing a degree in Physical Therapy.
Their story is just one example of what we do and why it matters.
It’s simple– Big Brothers and Big Sisters spend time with a child in need. They play, explore, talk and have fun together. As a dependable and supportive friend, Bigs offer guidance to Littles and help them navigate life’s challenges and choices.
We ask that each match participant (child, parent/guardian and volunteer) commit to at least one year of participation, with Bigs and Littles meeting 3-4 times a month.
A mentor acts as a positive role model, providing guidance to a person in need. He or she helps someone set and reach goals, identify and pursue opportunities, develop new skills, and improve self-esteem. Big Brothers and Big Sisters volunteer as mentors to children, offering support and stability and helping them build a strong foundation for the future.
No. You don’t have to pay to be a Little Brother or Little Sister. Our program is about developing a positive relationship with a Big Brother or Big Sister and spending time together.
We encourage participation in no-cost or low-cost activities and even provide Bigs with an ongoing calendar of fun, free activities. If, on occasion, your child and their Big take part in an activity that is not free, we ask the Big to cover the total cost, but ask families to send money for the Little’s cost when possible.
Research conducted for BBBS found that Little Brothers and Little Sisters are more confident, more likely to steer clear of drugs and alcohol, improve at school, get along better with their family and friends, avoid early parenting and feel better about themselves. Spending time with their Big helps Littles develop skills and abilities that contribute to a brighter future.
Children in our program come from many types of home environments, family structures, economic levels, ethnicities, and communities. Their backgrounds and personalities are unique, but they all share a need for friendship with a caring adult who believes in them.
Children and caregivers may hear about our program from friends, teachers, or counselors, at church, at school or through public service announcements. All children and their parents/guardians choose to be in our program.
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Texas serves children in Travis, Williamson and Hays counties.
The enrollment and interview process help us get to know each other. It allows us to understand what kind of match relationship suits your child best. We consider your child’s personality, interests, background and location, but the final decision to accept or decline a match is yours.
Some matches take longer to make than others, depending on our enrollment levels, and your child’s specific needs. For example, girls who apply in central Austin may be matched with a Big Sister more quickly than girls who apply in an area with fewer adult volunteers. Boys sometimes have a longer wait due to lower numbers of men volunteering to be Bigs. We also prioritize finding matches for children who are bilingual.
We recommend that Bigs and Littles keep a consistent schedule for outings and see each other on a regular basis. We ask that each match participant (child, parent/guardian and volunteer) commit to at least one year of participation, with Bigs and Littles meeting 3-4 times a month on a consistent schedule.
We encourage Bigs and Littles to do things that give them something to talk about and help them get to know each other. For example, they might play a board game, go for a hike or listen to music together. We want your child to have fun with their Big Brother or Big Sister. After all, playing is learning.
When it comes to the future of our children and the well-being of our communities, we’re all in this together. So it should come as no surprise that we need parents/guardians to be involved every step of the way, starting with the initial match.
Not only will you help us understand your child’s strengths and struggles, you’ll give final approval to the selection of your child’s Big Brother or Big Sister. Once the match is made, you will remain closely involved in many ways, including:
- Approving activities and outings for your child and their Big,
- Asking your child questions about those outings and sharing what you learn with agency staff,
- Reporting on your child’s progress and milestones achieved to the agency on a regular basis (BBBS will contact you, but we welcome your feedback any time)
- Participating in training on child safety offered by BBBS staff and communicating with your child about the training you receive.
Before we even begin the matching process, Big Brothers and Big Sisters’ National Standards of Excellence require that we screen each potential volunteer. This screening includes:
- A formal, written application
- A background and reference check
- An in-person interview
- An orientation and training process that outlines the individualized needs of each child and provides information and resources on how to encourage positive youth development
- Provision of child safety tips to you, your child and family.
To ensure a safe match relationship, it is essential to maintain ongoing and open communication between our professional staff, Bigs, Littles, and parents/guardians. Healthy communication is the best way to address any questions or feedback participants may have.
Throughout the entire mentoring relationship, a Match Support Specialist from Big Brothers Big Sisters remains in regular contact with you. They are there to answer questions, provide assistance, offer ideas for activities, give feedback, help you handle difficult situations and offer support in any way they can.
We do everything in our power to make matches that last. However, we realize that sometimes situations change or thing don’t work out. If this happens we’ll try to mediate and resolve the problem first, but if mediation is unsuccessful we will end the match. Your Match Support Specialist will support you and your child every step of the way, working toward the best possible outcome for everyone.
Although we ask for a minimum commitment of one year, matches in our program can continue until your child turns 18 and/or graduates high school.
After age 18, matches have the option to transfer to our Big Futures program. In Big Futures, the mentoring relationship remains active as your child transitions into adulthood and begins post-secondary education, prepares for the workforce, or enlists in military service.
But even Big Futures doesn’t have to be the end of your relationship– many friendships between Bigs and Littles last a lifetime.
Resources for Families
When you enroll in Big Brothers Big Sisters, our professional staff is there to support you every step of the way. Drawing on their many years of experience, our Match Support Specialists help you get the most from your match experience. They will remain in regular contact with you to answer questions, provide assistance, offer ideas for activities, give feedback, help you handle difficult situations and offer support in any way they can.
Some additional resources include:
- BBBS Quick Facts
- Stages of A Match
- The Importance of Male Mentors
- 150 Outing and Activity Ideas
- Match Activity Ideas During Social Distancing
- Responding to COVID-19 Fears
- Building Relationships During COVID-19 Crisis
- Match Discount Partners
- Families as Partners
- Events For Matches
- How Do We Know Mentoring Works?