The first two blog posts of this seven-part series – Connecting Families and Resources: The Important Role of Community Partners on the FAST Team and Partnering with Local Community-Based Organizations is Key to FAST Implementations, discussed how a relationship with a community partner can provide funding and resources for your school to implement the FAST® Program. But, how do you find an organization to work with? It might be as simple as entering key words such as “community-based organizations,” “non-profits,” or “social service agencies” in a search engine along with your location. However, it could be a challenge to find the one that is the most appropriate fit for your school if your area has a number of community organizations.
To streamline your search, consider starting with the end in mind and spend time upfront to determine the specific outcome(s) you want a partnership to achieve. For example, would you like to see improvement with a specific group of students or with all students? Or, do students in a specific grade need extra help and in what area? What role do families play in achieving your desired outcome?
It may be beneficial to brainstorm with your school leadership team to identify areas and needs you wish to target. Make sure your outcome fits the S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-based) criteria. Having a clearly defined outcome will help you make a more compelling case for partnership. Once you’ve outlined the outcome you wish to pursue, you can narrow your search to community and social service organizations with missions that align with it. Whatever outcome you choose, the FAST Program can be part of the solution to achieving it. The program is multi-faceted and has been used to reach a variety of outcomes, such as better parent/child relationships, more positive relationships with peers, and fewer emotional symptoms and better conduct. For a comprehensive list of positive outcomes, click here.
Across the country, community organizations are working toward their mission through school partnerships to implement FAST. Here are a few examples:
- Horizon Behavioral Health whose mission is “to support and promote the health, independence and self-worth of individuals and families in Central Virginia. The organization provides a continuum of community-based prevention, early intervention, aftercare, and psychosocial rehabilitation services for persons affected by mental health, intellectual disabilities, substance abuse and co-occurring disorders.” Horizon worked with three elementary schools this year to implement FAST to support mental health among children and families.
- Family Service Association of San Antonio is utilizing a community-based approach to support healthy behaviors through FAST at two elementary schools. More specifically, the goals of this project are to increase families’ knowledge of healthy cooking options and exercise, as well as improving access to community resources that support healthy living. “Family Service’s mission is empowering individuals and families to transform their lives and strengthen their community,” according to Nancy Hard, the organization’s President and CEO. “… We believe that policy changes and family engagement are among the most powerful ways to change behaviors and practices of children, parents and communities.”
- FAST is also offered through the Local Investment Commission (LINC) whose mission is “to provide leadership and influence to engage the Kansas City Community in creating the best delivery system to support and strengthen children, families and individuals, holding that system accountable, and changing public attitudes toward the system.” Through LINC, the FAST Program gives parents “the skills and confidence to improve the way your family operates so you can empower your children to grow and succeed.” LINC also partners with the Division of Youth Services to work with families across the state of Missouri.
What are the greatest needs in your school, and how could a community partner help you address them? Whatever outcome you wish to pursue, the FAST Program can be part of the solution! To discuss your desired outcomes and learn more about how FAST can help you achieve them, please visit our website at familiesandschools.org or contact us at 888.629.2481.