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Frequently Asked Questions about Becoming a Mentor

Q.  Who are Mentors or Family Home Agency Providers?
A.  Mentors everyday heroes who open their hearts and their homes to care for an adult with intellectual or developmental disabilities. With the support of a specialized team of health and human service professionals, Mentors become trusted caregivers, friends and advocates for the individuals with whom they live. This special relationship between the Mentor and the individual in their home is the foundation of our program's success.  Our Mentors are our greatest resource and enable us to help hundreds of individuals throughout the state live rich, meaningful lives in the communities they call home.  

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Q.  What do Mentors do?
A.  The services Mentors provide are specifically tailored to meet the needs of the individuals with whom they live. The actual level of support, supervision and active assistance varies, depending on the needs of each individual.  During our comprehensive matching process the needs and preferences of both the Mentor and the individual are considered to ensure that a successful match for all parties. 

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Q.  Who can become a Mentor or Family Home Agency Provider?
A.  Mentors do not conform to any standard profile.  Mentors must be 21 years of age but they represent a wide range of backgrounds and skill levels.  One constant among Mentors however, is their commitment to care for and make a positive difference in someone's life. Because of the needs of the people we serve, experience as a caregiver, mental health worker, RN or CNA are a plus – but not required.  California MENTOR also provides ongoing educational and support sessions to help Mentors provide services for the individual in their home.

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Q.  Where can I learn more about the FHA program and becoming a Mentor?
A.  California MENTOR hosts open houses, informational sessions, coffee hours, recruitment events on a regular basis. Please check our event calendar for more information. 

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Q.  What do I have to do to become a Mentor and how long does it take?
A.  The first step is to attend a 2 hour pre-service overview session at our office.  After you attend a pre-service overview, you will begin the process of going through the required educational sessions, a home study, background check and interviews.  The time it takes to complete the certification process varies depending on the situation of each potential Mentor but most Mentors complete the process in 4 – 8 weeks.

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Q.  What kinds of care will I be responsible for?
A.  Mentors are responsible for basic home care and related responsibilities to each individual which may include providing nutritional meals, transportation to all appointments and recreational activities, access to community activities and supervision and support outlined in the Individual's Service Plan. Mentors are also required to maintain records and documentation regarding the services and supports being provided.

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Q.  What kinds of disabilities will the individual I support have?
A.  Individuals who receive services in family homes have varying degrees of developmental disabilities such as intellectual disabilities, autism, cerebral palsy, epilepsy or brain injury. Some of the people we serve require a higher level of care and others are more independent and able to hold jobs and participate in a variety of community activities. Individuals are matched with Mentors whose skills and lifestyle fit with the care needs of the individual.

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Q.  Will the person who lives with me need constant supervision?
A.  Each individual is provided support and supervision relative to their Individual Service Plan, level of functioning, daily support needs and ability to maintain personal safety at home and in the community. The supervision requirements for each individual are established through an assessment process with input from the individual's service planning team members and detailed in the Individual Service Plan.

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Q.  How long does the matching process take?
A.  This may vary from a few weeks to several months.  Proper matching takes time and is well worth the investment that it takes to make that “perfect match” between you and the individual you'll serve.

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Q.  Would I be matched with a person of the same or opposite gender?
A.  Your preferences and that of the individual you serve are both given consideration in the matching process.  The matching process is designed to assure that you and the person who comes to live with you are comfortable so that you can live together as a family and develop a meaningful relationship.

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Q.  What if the individual has occasional difficult behaviors?
A.  Sometimes difficult behaviors are learned from living in institutional or other group living situations.  These may disappear as the individual becomes accustomed to family living.  California MENTOR staff in conjunction with the Regional Center, can help arrange additional assistance or expertise if necessary.

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Q.  Who do I call if I have an issue or need help?
A.  Each home is assigned a Coordinator who provides case management services.  The Coordinator ensures that the individual's needs are being met in the home and that their plan of care is being followed.  They will visit the individual and the Mentor in the home weekly or biweekly and complete yearly service plans, quarterly reports and any incident reports.  They are human service professionals responsible for overseeing the day-to-day success of an individual's home.  There is also an after hours coordinator on call 24/7 to respond to any urgent matters that arise outside of office hours.

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Q.  How long is the commitment to have the person living with me?
A.  The matching process should assure that you and the person who comes to live with you know each other well and are comfortable that you can live together as a family before a final move takes place.  If it becomes necessary for the individual to find a new home, California MENTOR and the Regional Center will help them find another living arrangement.

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Q.  How many people can I (or my family) have living with me (us) at one time?
A.  Family home providers can serve one or two individuals only.  Each individual must have his or her own bedroom.

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Q.  Would the person who lives with me have other family members involved in his or her life?
A.  The involvement of family members and friends is always encouraged as long as these are desired by the individual and don't pose a safety risk.  You will work with your Coordinator in the matching process to work out all the details.

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Q.  Will family or other visitors be able to see the person at my house unannounced?
A.  Unannounced visits do happen.  Family members, Regional Center staff, your Coordinator or other friends or acquaintances may “drop by.”  Remember, this is your home and the home of the person you serve so sometimes things happen in a planned and organized fashion and sometimes they are more spontaneous.

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Q.  Will it be possible to get time off?
A.  Yes.  Your Coordinator will have a close relationship with your family so that your relief support needs can be anticipated and planned for.  The Coordinator may arrange for the individual to stay with another family for a short time, someone may come into your home to provide temporary support, or other arrangements can be made.  In case of emergency or crisis situations, California MENTOR will make the necessary arrangements.

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Q. Do Mentors receive reimbursement for services provided in their home?
A.  The rate of reimbursement varies based on the needs of the individual you serve.  Your Coordinator and you will decide, in partnership with the Regional Center and the individual receiving services, what level of needs you are best prepared to support.

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Q.  Is there a lot of paperwork involved in providing family home services?
A.  There is some degree of written documentation required in providing services and supports. There are regulatory requirements for written reports regarding abuse or special incidents which involve the individuals living with you.  However, the main responsibility for written reports and documentation rests with California MENTOR, not the family home provider.  In addition, California MENTOR will make it easy for you to access the forms you need by providing a login to the special Mentor Center of our website.  There you'll be able to download the forms you need, view our event calendar and more.

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Q.  What will the individual do during the day?
A.  Most people who choose to live with a family will also have a job, work training or other activity during the day.  However, employment or other day activities are NOT required.  Some individuals may wish to stay home during the day and others may choose to participate in a part-time activity outside of the home.  It is important to be sure that the needs, preferences and choices of the individual who comes to live with you can be supported by the rhythm of your families' life.

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Q.  Can I work ouside the home and be a family home provider?
A.  Yes, as long as it does not interfere with ability to meet your responsibilities to the individual you support.  Many Mentors work outside the home and it is important part of our services to acclimate the individual you support to your typical routines which may include working outside of the home.

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Q.  What if the person who lives with me gets off work or home before I do?
A.  During the matching process, the planning team takes into consideration daily schedules and routines of both the Mentor and the individual referred for services. Many primary Mentors benefit from having secondary Mentors who are certified to provide support and back-up. 

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Q.  Am I responsible for transportation?
A.  Transportation to such things as doctors appointments, recreational outings or other social activities is your responsibility, but other arrangements will be made for transportation to and from work or a day program.  This may be public transportation or other bus service.

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Q.  What am I responsible to buy for this person?
A.  Generally, the Mentor is responsible for providing nutritious meals and snacks, basic personal care and hygiene supplies, as well as linens, bedding and furnished bedrooms. Mentors are also responsible to provide transportation to and from appointments and activities, utilities and basic telephone and cable costs.

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Q.  How do we take care of the individual's money and personal property?
A.  California MENTOR provides guidelines for the handling an individual's finances and personal property. Your Coordinator will work with your family in setting up the appropriate financial procedures and accounts.

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Q.  Do you need insurance to become a Mentor or family home provider?
A.  As a best practice, California MENTOR requires a family home provider to have liability insurance (homeowner's or renter's insurance) before we will issue a Certificate of Approval.  You should contact your homeowners and auto insurance carrier to determine if your current coverage provides adequate liability protection.  Standard homeowner policies may provide adequate coverage.  In the event homeowner's coverage is determined inadequate, the insurance carrier may have a “rider” available which will provide coverage at an additional cost. 

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Want to learn more about how you can become a Mentor and make a difference?

 

Check out our events calendar and attend an FHA Informational Session near you.