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Families and Schools Together (FAST) Program


Lynn McDonald, Ph.D., Program Founder
Wisconsin center for Education Research
1025 West Johnson Street
Madison, WI 53706

(608) 263-9476                 Fax (608)263-6448

Comprehensive Speciality
3-14 years Target
Model Rating

Pat Davenport, CEO
FAST National Training and Evaluation Center
2801 International Lane, Suite 105
Madison, WI 53704
(608) 663-2382                 Fax (608) 663-2336

FAST is a collaborative parent-professional partnership, which builds protective factors using a multi-faily gorup process for pre-school, elementary and middle school youth, ages 3-14, to reduce risk for alcohol and other drug abuse, school failure, and juvenile delinquency. In 1988 while at Family Service of Madison, Wisconsin, Dr. Lynn Mcdonald developed FAST based on family therapy and family stress theory. FAST replication, training, and quality assurance structures are now coordinated through the FAST National Training and Evaluation Center in Wisconsin. FAST is now being implemented in over 600 schools in 40 states and five countries. Recognition of FAST as a Model include the White House Conference on School Safety, (October 15, 1998), Office of National Drug Control Policy, Center for Substance Abuse Prevention, U.S. Department of Education, U.S. Department of Health and Human Service, U.S. Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, Harvard University and Ford Foundation Innovation in State Government, Kraft Food Corporation, DeWitt Wallace Readers Digest Foundation, United Way of America, Family Resource Coalition, and the Harvard School of Public Health.

FAST develops a structure whereby both the youth and his/her parent(s) have a respected voice and a valued role in the collaborative prevention process. FAST develops separate support networks for the youth and for their parents, using a multi-family format and brings the parent and youth together for communicative encounters. The program strengthens relationships at multiple levels of the child's social ecology. Ten to 30 whole families participate together in carefully orchestrated, research-based, interactive, fun family activities. Following the graduation ceremony after 8-10 weeks, FAST parents run their own follow up multi-family meetings for two years with support to maintain the social networks and the experiential learning.

Using standardized mental health instruments with established validity and reliability, site evaluation reports show statistically significant improvements in classroom behaviors and at home behaviors (specifically conduct disorder, anxiety, and attention span), and increases in family closeness and communication, as well as reduced family conflict. After six months, these gains are maintained and there is increased parent involvement in school, increased parent self-sufficiency, and decreased social isolation. In four separately conducted, multi-year, randomized trials, the Achenback aggression scale showed statisticaly significant defferences between FAST and control children a t1 year or \ 2 years. FAST improves student behavior and supports family strength through a well-defined collaboration between parents, the school, a local mental health agency, a local provider of substance abuse prevention and intervention services, a youth advocate, and a youth partner.


Implementation Costs:

The comprehensive services FAST offers include a) home visits, b) thirty 2 hour multi-family sessions facilitated by a parent-professional team delivered over a two year period, and c) appropriate referrals to community agencies. Included in the costs are meals for each family member, supplies for program activities, transportation, childcare, a basket of lottery prizes worth $30 for each participating family, and graduation festivities and certificates. Costs vary enormously depending on the creative repositioning of pre-existing staff to do effective multi-family outreach and engagement strategies with under involved families, which impact positively on child, family and community well being. Costs also vary by size of the 8 week multi-family cycle: size can range from five families (a minimum of 5 families must graduate to become a Certified FAST program) to 24 families. If you graduate 10 families, the cost per family (without repositioning) is approximately $1,200. The cost of an 8 week cycle is about $11,000. In contrast, with repositioning of staff, the program supplies, meals, transportation, childcare, lottery, are $200 per family (total cost $2,000). Schools are recommended to run three cycles per academic year, with monthly FASTWORKS.

Training Costs:

The program requires four days of team training instruction spread over a four month period. The four days consists of two days in a workshop, three site visits, and one review day. One certified trainer is needed per team (a team must consist of at least four people but not more than ten). Training workshops can be for one or more teams. Training is $3,900 persite; the outcome evalutaion is $1000 and includes questionnaires, data analysis, and a site report, as well as a process evaluation conducted while observing the program implementation during the three site visits. Travel costs are separate. Follow-up training or consultation is not required but is recommended.


Revised 11/10/2002

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