Frequently Asked Questions

We're here to help you every step of the way. View a full list of commonly asked questions to get the information you need.

What are the requirements to be a Little?

•  Children ages 6-13 (Matches can stay open until 18, but new Matches are only created for Littles 6-13)
•  Must live in Dane County
•  Parent or caregiver must complete online application process for child
•  Committed to meeting with mentor 2-4 times per month
•  Parent/caregiver and child MUST connect with Match Support Specialist monthly during the first year and quarterly after a year of being matched
•  One-year commitment

How is my child matched with a Big?

When our team completes the interview with you and your child, we will determine a potential match with a Big Brother or Big Sister. When we think we've found a good match, we will share non-identifying information about your child with the Big, and we'll share non-identifying information about the Big with you and your child.

After sharing that information, both you and the Big are able to approve or reject the potential match. If both you and the Big approve of the potential match, the match becomes "official." Our staff will set up a "match meeting" where you and your child will get to meet with the Big. (A BBBS of Dane County staff member will be there to help facilitate the meeting.) A Match Support Specialist will provide ongoing support to you and your child.

What happens after the application is completed?

Once submitted, we will review your application and determine if this program is the right fit for your child. You will then be asked to watch an online safety training video and complete a required quiz. After completed you will hear from our Child Enrollment Specialist to schedule an interview with both you and your child, in your home. The purpose of the interview is to get to know you, your child, and your family better. You and your child will be asked personal questions during the interview, which is designed to obtain the information we need to make the best possible Match to ensure that your child's involvement in our program is as beneficial as possible.  

Where do Bigs come from?

Bigs come from communities all across Dane County. They get involved with Big Brothers Big Sisters because they believe in the power of mentoring and/or they are interested in gaining experience as a mentor.

Bigs also go through a screening process which includes an application, background check, and an interview process to ensure they're fit for the program. Our team carefully considers all information obtained from each of these steps in determining if the person is suitable to be a Big.

Is there anything else about the matching process I should know?

You are required to check in with your BBBS of Dane County Match Support Specialist once per month during the first year of your child's match. (Check-ins become less frequent after the first year, but are still required). The Match Support Specialist will contact you to discuss how things are going and to address any questions or concerns you may have. The Match Support Specialist will also speak separately with your child to hear directly from him/her about their relationship with their Big.

What benefits will my child receive from having a Big?

The most important benefit is that your child will have the support and encouragement of a caring adult mentor. This kind of support can lead to other benefits that are unique to your child and/or your child's relationship with their Big. These benefits might include more confidence, improved grades in school, better relationships with their peers or with family, healthier attitudes about risky behaviors like drugs/alcohol, and other benefits.

It's important to know that Bigs are not intended to be a substitute parent, babysitter, or counselor for your child, nor are they intended to be someone who spoils/buy things for your child. Big Brothers Big Sisters guidelines set strict boundaries about this, and our Bigs are required to abide by them.

What would cause a Match to end, and what happens when a Match ends?

We work very hard to create and support Matches that last as long as possible for the benefit of Littles. But sometimes things happen - for example, sometimes Bigs or Littles and their families move to a different city or state outside of the Madison or Dane County area. If your child's Big moves away, we will work to get your child re-matched with a new Big if that is what you and your child want. (If you and your child move away, we will put you in touch with the Big Brothers Big Sisters office nearest to you if you'd like.)

Occasionally, despite the best efforts of everyone involved, the relationship between a Big and a Little just doesn't work. If, after allowing time for the relationship to develop and addressing any obstacles along the way, the relationship is clearly not going to be beneficial, we will work to re-match your child with a new Big if desired.

The best end to a Match is when the child ages out of our program, which usually means that they have experienced a long, supportive, and life-changing relationship with their Big. When a Little turns 18 or graduates from high school, their "official" match ends, but they can choose to stay in touch with their Big for as long as they'd like. Sometimes Bigs and Littles keep in touch for the rest of their lives!

Please feel free to contact us with any questions or concerns you may have, we're always happy to help.