The Foundations of FAST®: Our Mission, Vision, and Values

No matter where they may live, what language they speak, or what circumstances they live in, parents love and want the very best for their children. Yet at one time or another, virtually every family faces challenges – from health problems to economic instability – that affect parents’ ability to provide the care and guidance that children need.

Families & Schools Together is a non-profit organization that exists to make a critical difference in the midst of these challenges by empowering parents, strengthening families, developing social networks, and supporting schools and communities so that children can thrive.

Mission

Our mission is to nurture the inherent potential of every child by uniting families, schools, and communities.

Vision

Our vision is of a world where in every community, every child thrives.

Values

In addition to being evidence-based, FAST is values-based. Every individual who implements FAST upholds and demonstrates FAST Values in every aspect of his or her involvement.

The ten core values of FAST are as follows:

  1. Parents are capable of being the primary teachers and nurturers for their own children.
  2. Families are central and critical to children’s educational performance.
  3. Stress and social isolation diminish parental effectiveness; social support increases parental effectiveness.
  4. Trusting relationships support the ability of families to access helping resources.
  5. Policies and practices of organizations should always support and include parents to enhance the parent child relationship, rather than undercut or isolate the parent from his/her child.
  6. Schools should be welcoming to all families.
  7. Alcohol and drug abuse keeps families from succeeding; prevention, intervention and treatment of the problems of drug misuse increases the family’s ability to succeed.
  8. Collaboration across systems to address the needs of all children is a necessary and important process.
  9. Poverty, racism, and sexism adversely affect children in their development.
  10. All parents love their children and want a better life for them.

A message from our Executive Director

It is my pleasure to welcome you to Families & Schools Together! I am honored and privileged to serve as the Executive Director of this amazing organization. It is my hope that you will join us on our journey to build capacity in communities that nurture the inherent potential of every child through strong relationships with parents, schools, and communities.

Our evidence-based FAST Program empowers parents to become more effective family leaders, builds positive connections and social capital between families and schools, and creates a supportive community engaged in fostering children’s well-being and education. You can do this as a volunteer, donor, participant, and/or partner. If you have a passion for our mission, we will find a place for you!

Early in my non-profit career, it was evident that my personal mission was to build safe and healthy communities where children and families can live, work, and play; one where families not just survive—but thrive!  My twenty plus years of non-profit work has been dedicated to serving underserved populations and at-risk, hard-to-reach children and families, while being a strong advocate for social justice and self-sufficiency across non-profit sectors.

Education was the key to my survival of a traumatic childhood. In particular, my strong relationships with teachers and educators supported my development and well-being. FAST programming is a catalyst for building protective factors that can help buffer children and families against negative outcomes tied to traumatic experiences, developing these relationships in schools and communities globally, and changing lives forever.

FAST is innovating across programs to drive greater impact. Our traditional FAST Program has been changing lives for over 31 years. Our newest program, the FAST Institute of Family Engagement, builds on our success with the FAST Program, delivering professional development on family and community engagement best practices for school personnel. Research shows that partnerships between schools, families, and communities are a key strategy to improving student achievement, and that as parents become more deeply involved in their children’s educational process, relationships with teachers and school personnel are improved, school climate is strengthened, and school culture becomes more inviting.

FAST will continue to innovate to meet the ever-changing needs of children and families in our local and global communities. Programs have been disseminated in 48 states nationally and over 20 countries globally. Proven effective through multiple random control research trials, FAST has impacted thousands of children and families.

As we move FAST Forward, we are committed to an even greater impact locally, nationally, and internationally.

Blessings,

Toni K. Rivera Joachin