Mentoring Mums is a CPS volunteer mentoring program offering social, emotional and practical support to vulnerable, new or expectant mothers. Established in 2008, the program continues to provide services to women living in the north eastern region of Melbourne as an ongoing CPS program.
Based on evidence regarding the importance of addressing social disadvantage in the early years and the value of early intervention, CPS developed the Mentoring Mums program as a new initiative to address the needs of vulnerable socially isolated women and their infants.
The program was funded by the Foundation through the Alec Prentice Sewell Gift as a pilot over three years from 2008 to 2011. The Foundation also funded the evaluation of this program with a grant of $9,600 awarded through the Community Wellbeing program area.
This innovative program matches trained volunteers with new mums to provide ongoing support for vulnerable women who are pregnant or have babies aged up to six months. The mentor is typically a mother or grandmother from the community.
Mentors work to build a trusting and consistent relationship with mothers, supporting them in their parenting role and connecting them to the community by encouraging access to health services, maternal and child health services, parenting groups and other community services.
Mentors are required to attend three days of training, spend four hours a week with the mother, attend monthly team meetings, prepare a monthly report and commit to the program for 12 months.
The Mentoring Mum’s program has successfully recruited, trained, and retained committed and skillful mentors. This valued program has received positive feedback from clients, referrers and mentors. An evaluation of the program provided positive results with all mothers interviewed describing the program as very helpful, reporting increased parenting confidence, increased self-esteem, reduction in isolation and a new-found ability to access services.
Describing Mentoring Mums as ‘...a wonderful program’, the mothers involved strongly supported the programs continued existence and expansion. Reporting increased levels of parental attachment, improved baby development and increased maternal parental capacities, the Maternal and Child Health nurses also supported the program’s successful outcomes.
The data and feedback collected from health professionals, mothers and mentors combined to create a strong evidence base and as a result the Mentoring Mums program is now a permanent feature in CPS’s programs.
For more details or to register your interest as a volunteer, please refer to the CPS website.
Author: Nicole McLeod, Program Officer