FAQs

Here are the questions most often asked about KidStart. If your question is not answered below please contact us instead. We’d love to hear from you.

FAQs for Volunteers

What commitment is expected of a volunteer?

We ask that volunteers commit for a minimum of a year.

What qualifications are required to volunteer?

No qualifications are required as such, but we do require someone who is working, going to school or in a stable routine. Having a stable routine is seen as a positive as it demonstrates you can keep a regular commitment. You also need to be over 19 years of age, have lived in Canada for more than one year and be willing to give permission for a Criminal Record Check.

What is KidStart?

KidStart is a one-to-one volunteer mentoring program available to children and youth who face challenges at home, at school, or in the community. It has been in operation for more than 35 years.

What is KidStart’s philosophy?

At its core, KidStart is a prevention program designed to help children and youth build resilience to the risk factors they may face, and to make good choices despite challenging circumstances. Its
success is due to the outstanding commitment that the volunteer mentors make to the program and the power of positive, meaningful relationships.

Who does KidStart serve?

KidStart for children aged 6-12 is available in Burnaby, North Vancouver, Richmond, Surrey, Tri-Cities and Vancouver. Anyone can refer a child to this part of the program, including school teachers, counsellors, parents, guardians, family members, and the police.

KidStart for teens aged 12-18 is available in Coquitlam, Maple Ridge, North Vancouver, Pitt Meadows, Port Coquitlam, Port Moody, Richmond, Squamish and Vancouver. A professional referral from a social worker, probation officer, or the police is required for a youth to access this part of the program.

What is the role as a volunteer mentor?

The role of our volunteer mentors is to spend time developing a supportive relationship with their mentee while modelling positive behaviours and encouraging them to participate in activities that allow them to experience success. The best way for this to happen is for mentors and mentees to meet regularly (once a week for about three hours) and to spend time having fun!

What do the volunteer coordinators do?

Volunteer coordinators are responsible for the recruitment, screening, selection, and ongoing support and supervision of our volunteer mentors. This includes providing them with an orientation to the program which takes place before they are assigned to a mentee.

What will the first meeting between and mentor and mentee be like

A volunteer coordinator will attend the first meeting to make sure the mentor, mentee and the mentee’s family understand, among other things, the role of our mentors, how we all stay in touch with one another and the rights of the young people in KidStart. Other topics that will be discussed include how to make arrangements for outings and what these should potentially look like taking into consideration any curfews, allergies, medications or physical activity limitations of either the mentee or mentor.

How do volunteers go about building a mentoring relationship with their mentee?

As we said above, the fundamental premise of the program is that providing young people with the opportunity to develop a supportive relationship with a caring adult increases their resilience against the risk factors they may be facing. Here’s a few ways our mentors do just that:

Being a role model:  Volunteer mentors have a unique responsibility in a young person’s life – being a positive adult role model who can have fun with them, while offering gentle guidance and support.

Taking their time: Building a relationship cannot be rushed. It often requires persistence and patience in arranging meetings and attempting to get together. This process is valuable; establishing a strong foundation of trust can lead to positive change in a mentee’s life.

Having realistic expectations:  The rewards of mentoring are typically subtle. It’s important to set realistic expectations that use the relationship as a catalyst for change.

Having fun together:  Mentees often say that the best thing about having a mentor is the chance to have fun – someone to share their favourite activities with.

Empowering mentee’s to choose how time is spent:  Giving them a choice about activities can strengthen the relationship, help them to develop decision making and negotiation skills, and avoid them feeling like activities are being imposed on them.

Being positive:  Our mentors spend time finding ways to encourage and express confidence in their mentees which in turn helps them feel positive about themselves and their abilities.

Being an active listener and engaging in communication that respects boundaries:  Listening and talking are at the heart of any relationship. 

Focusing on a mentee’s strengths:  Focusing on the positive qualities in a mentee’s life helps to increase their capacities. When you are focused on their strengths, they will see their strengths too, thus increasing their confidence and self-esteem.

What activities can mentors and mentees do together?

Encouraging mentees to participate in social and recreational activities is an important component of KidStart. As a mentor you will receive $40 per month to help subsidize the activities you do together. You will receive this honorarium via direct deposit every month.

The list below outlines what is expected when doing common activities.

Activities where participation is conditional:

  • Biking and rollerblading – helmets are required
  • Novice day hikes – must be less than ½ day and you must carry a cell phone
  • and basic supplies
  • Grouse Grind – but keep in mind it is extremely difficult and may not be
  • suitable for everyone
  • Weight-lifting/working out – must be supervised
  • Swimming – only when supervised by certified lifeguard
  • Fishing – from a dock or land only and with appropriate licenses

Activities that require a Letter of Permission for Activities form signed by the parent/guardian:

  • Skateboarding – helmets are required
  • Hockey – helmets with full cages, neck guards, elbow pads, shin pads and gloves are required
  • Horseback riding – ask your coordinator for specific instructions
  • Church groups/activities

Activities that require a permission form issued by an external body (business, recreation centre, sponsor, etc.) and maintained in the mentee’s file:

  • Indoor rock climbing
  • Any activity that an external body requires that a permission form be signed by a
  • parent or legal guardian

Prohibited activities:

  • Outdoor rock climbing
  • Boating, including canoeing, kayaking and sailing
  • Water activities that are not supervised by a certified lifeguard
  • Paintball
  • Driving or riding on a motorcycle, motorbike, or other two-wheeled motorized
  • vehicle, snowmobile or jet-ski
  • Skiing, snowboarding and snow shoeing
  • Any extreme sport including but not limited to zip lining, paragliding or skydiving
  • Camping
  • Leaving the province of BC
How does a mentor-mentee relationship end?

At KidStart, the mentor-mentee relationships are all unique and open-ended. Some may last a few months, others last for many years, and a small amount may go on longer than the mentor or mentees involvement in KidStart. If it ever feels like a relationships is coming to an end, our coordinators are there to provide guidance including:

  • Preparing to end the relationship – answering questions, explanations, completing bucket list items
  • Reflecting on the relationship – looking back on the fun you had together, your successes and how you are both feeling
  • Planning a final outing
Will I be assigned a young person that lives in my community?

Yes. We make every effort to assign mentors to mentee who lives within reasonable proximity to each other, so it is easy for them to spend time together.

Do I need access to a car?

No, we understand that not everyone has a vehicle, in which case, we’ll try to pair you with a young person on an accessible transit route.

How old are KidStart participants?

They are between the ages of six and eighteen. However, we continue to support mentors and participants when they are over eighteen as well.

Is there a cost involved?

It depends. Mentors receive a $40 monthly allowance to support the activities they engage in with their mentees and, when possible, are provided with free tickets to special events. While some mentors choose to spend about this, it is not a requirement of the program. To help keep monthly activities within the $40 allowance we organize group activities at our child/youth friendly location in Vancouver, regularly share free or low cost activities ideas through our volunteer newsletter and, when possible, provide free tickets to special events.

Do I receive any support or training from KidStart?

Yes! You will be assigned a Coordinator who provides ongoing support and supervision. Volunteers participate in monthly learning sessions and support meetings.

FAQs for Families

What is KidStart?

KidStart is a one-to-one volunteer mentoring program available to children and youth who face challenges at home, at school, or in the community. It has been in operation for more than 35 years.

What is KidStart’s philosophy?

At its core, KidStart is a prevention program designed to help children and youth build resilience to the risk factors they may face, and to make good choices despite challenging circumstances. Its
success is due to the outstanding commitment that the volunteer mentors make to the program and the power of positive, meaningful relationships.

Who does KidStart serve?

KidStart for children aged 6-12 is available in Burnaby, North Vancouver, Richmond, Surrey, Tri-Cities and Vancouver. Anyone can refer a child to this part of the program, including school teachers, counsellors, parents, guardians, family members, and the police.

KidStart for teens aged 12-18 is available in Coquitlam, Maple Ridge, North Vancouver, Pitt Meadows, Port Coquitlam, Port Moody, Richmond, Squamish and Vancouver. A professional referral from a social worker, probation officer, or the police is required for a youth to access this part of the program.

What is the role as a volunteer mentor?

The role of our volunteer mentors is to spend time developing a supportive relationship with their mentee while modelling positive behaviours and encouraging them to participate in activities that allow them to experience success. The best way for this to happen is for mentors and mentees to meet regularly (once a week for about three hours) and to spend time having fun!

What do the volunteer coordinators do?

Volunteer coordinators are responsible for the recruitment, screening, selection, and ongoing support and supervision of our volunteer mentors. This includes providing them with an orientation to the program which takes place before they are assigned to a mentee.

What will the first meeting between and mentor and mentee be like

A volunteer coordinator will attend the first meeting to make sure the mentor, mentee and the mentee’s family understand, among other things, the role of our mentors, how we all stay in touch with one another and the rights of the young people in KidStart. Other topics that will be discussed include how to make arrangements for outings and what these should potentially look like taking into consideration any curfews, allergies, medications or physical activity limitations of either the mentee or mentor.

How do volunteers go about building a mentoring relationship with their mentee?

As we said above, the fundamental premise of the program is that providing young people with the opportunity to develop a supportive relationship with a caring adult increases their resilience against the risk factors they may be facing. Here’s a few ways our mentors do just that:

Being a role model:  Volunteer mentors have a unique responsibility in a young person’s life – being a positive adult role model who can have fun with them, while offering gentle guidance and support.

Taking their time: Building a relationship cannot be rushed. It often requires persistence and patience in arranging meetings and attempting to get together. This process is valuable; establishing a strong foundation of trust can lead to positive change in a mentee’s life.

Having realistic expectations:  The rewards of mentoring are typically subtle. It’s important to set realistic expectations that use the relationship as a catalyst for change.

Having fun together:  Mentees often say that the best thing about having a mentor is the chance to have fun – someone to share their favourite activities with.

Empowering mentee’s to choose how time is spent:  Giving them a choice about activities can strengthen the relationship, help them to develop decision making and negotiation skills, and avoid them feeling like activities are being imposed on them.

Being positive:  Our mentors spend time finding ways to encourage and express confidence in their mentees which in turn helps them feel positive about themselves and their abilities.

Being an active listener and engaging in communication that respects boundaries:  Listening and talking are at the heart of any relationship. 

Focusing on a mentee’s strengths:  Focusing on the positive qualities in a mentee’s life helps to increase their capacities. When you are focused on their strengths, they will see their strengths too, thus increasing their confidence and self-esteem.

What activities can mentors and mentees do together?

Encouraging mentees to participate in social and recreational activities is an important component of KidStart. As a mentor you will receive $40 per month to help subsidize the activities you do together. You will receive this honorarium via direct deposit every month.

The list below outlines what is expected when doing common activities.

Activities where participation is conditional:

  • Biking and rollerblading – helmets are required
  • Novice day hikes – must be less than ½ day and you must carry a cell phone
  • and basic supplies
  • Grouse Grind – but keep in mind it is extremely difficult and may not be
  • suitable for everyone
  • Weight-lifting/working out – must be supervised
  • Swimming – only when supervised by certified lifeguard
  • Fishing – from a dock or land only and with appropriate licenses

Activities that require a Letter of Permission for Activities form signed by the parent/guardian:

  • Skateboarding – helmets are required
  • Hockey – helmets with full cages, neck guards, elbow pads, shin pads and gloves are required
  • Horseback riding – ask your coordinator for specific instructions
  • Church groups/activities

Activities that require a permission form issued by an external body (business, recreation centre, sponsor, etc.) and maintained in the mentee’s file:

  • Indoor rock climbing
  • Any activity that an external body requires that a permission form be signed by a
  • parent or legal guardian

Prohibited activities:

  • Outdoor rock climbing
  • Boating, including canoeing, kayaking and sailing
  • Water activities that are not supervised by a certified lifeguard
  • Paintball
  • Driving or riding on a motorcycle, motorbike, or other two-wheeled motorized
  • vehicle, snowmobile or jet-ski
  • Skiing, snowboarding and snow shoeing
  • Any extreme sport including but not limited to zip lining, paragliding or skydiving
  • Camping
  • Leaving the province of BC
How does a mentor-mentee relationship end?

At KidStart, the mentor-mentee relationships are all unique and open-ended. Some may last a few months, others last for many years, and a small amount may go on longer than the mentor or mentees involvement in KidStart. If it ever feels like a relationships is coming to an end, our coordinators are there to provide guidance including:

  • Preparing to end the relationship – answering questions, explanations, completing bucket list items
  • Reflecting on the relationship – looking back on the fun you had together, your successes and how you are both feeling
  • Planning a final outing
What information will you collect about my child?

We need some personal information so we can help them as best we can. We promise to only collect the information that we need. This information will only be used for reasons you agree to. The only time we must share your information is when we are required to by law, or when we need to share it to protect your child or others from serious harm.

We will tell you exactly what information we need, why we need it, how we will use it and who else will see it. We promise to keep this information secure.

Sometimes we use information for research, reporting and evaluation purposes. This information will remove anything that could identify your child, like their name.

How do we know the information you’ll have on file about my child is correct?

You can ask your KidStart Mentor to see their file.

Will my child’s privacy be protected?

Yes! All the information we keep is locked away or password protected.

Who do we contact if we have any questions about privacy?

You talk to your KidStart Mentor, your KidStart Coordinator or your KidStart Manager. You can also contact PLEA’s Privacy Officer at [email protected].

What if we have a complaint?

Talk to your KidStart Mentor, KidStart Coordinator or KidStart Manager. If after doing so you are not satisfied, you can contact PLEA’s Executive Director at [email protected].

How long will my child have their KidStart Mentor?

For at least a year. Exactly how long depends on everyone involved.

Do we have to pay?

No. Any help toward the cost of an activity is great but is not required!

Is KidStart counselling?

No, although some KidStart Mentors may be studying subjects like this at school.

Who do I contact if I have other questions?

Your KidStart Mentor or KidStart Coordinator.