Supported by Evidence

Numerous research articles provide evidence supportive of the FAST® Program’s effectiveness in urban and rural schools and communities with diverse cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds.This section contains select published studies and papers written by FAST Founder Dr. Lynn McDonald and fellow peer investigators.

Reducing Children’s Behavior Problems through Social Capital: A Causal Assessment


Using data from a cluster randomized trial of 52 elementary schools, we apply several multilevel models to assess the causal relationship, including intent to treat and treatment on the treated analyses. Taken together, these analyses provide stronger evidence than previous studies that social capital improves children’s behavioral outcomes and that these improvements are not simply a result of selection into social relations but result from the social relations themselves.

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A social ecological, relationship-based strategy for parent involvement: FAST (Families and Schools Together)


This study uses data from a randomized control trial of 52 urban schools in order to look at the effectiveness of FAST® at increasing parental engagement in schools. Findings suggest that FAST helped to increase parent involvement in their child’s school.

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Bayesian Causal Mediation Analysis for Group Randomized Designs with Homogeneous and Heterogeneous Effects: Simulation and Case Study


This paper builds on a prior study where FAST® was implemented following a group-randomized design measuring parent social capital both before and after the treatment period. The prior study found evidence that FAST has a significant effect on reducing student peer problems. This paper extends the study by conducting a causal mediation analysis using FAST as a case study, and concludes that the causal effect of FAST on peer problems mediates through parent-improved inter-generational closure.

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The emergence of social capital in low-income Latino elementary schools


In this study, we explore mechanisms of social capital emergence in predominantly low-income Latino school communities. We draw data from an experimental study that manipulated social capital through an after-school family engagement program. Based on interviews and focus groups with participating parents, teachers, and program staff in two elementary schools, we identified four types of interactions that act as mechanisms of social capital emergence.

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Reducing School Mobility: A randomized trial of a relationship building intervention


A cluster-randomized field experiment in 52 predominantly Hispanic elementary schools in San Antonio, Texas, and Phoenix, Arizona, tested whether student mobility in early elementary school was reduced through Families and Schools Together (FAST), an intervention that builds social capital among families, children, and schools. FAST failed to reduce mobility overall but substantially reduced the mobility of Black students, who were especially likely to change schools. Improved relationships among families help explain this finding.

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UNODC Global Family Skills Initiative: Outcome evaluation in Central Asia of Families and Schools Together (FAST) multi-family groups


United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Global Family Skills Initiative reviewed hundreds, and then recommended 23 evidence based programmes (2010). UNODC invited FAST (Families and Schools Together) to be piloted in Central Asia, and funded the cultural adaptation teams, translations, trainings, implementations, supervisions and evaluations. SPSS analyses used one-tailed, paired t-tests and showed improved outcomes. Discussion of results includes the high retention rates of 100%.

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Differences between Hispanic and non-Hispanic families in social capital and child development: First-year findings from an experimental study


To study the role of social capital in child development, we embarked on a school-randomized trial in two cities with large Hispanic populations: San Antonio, Texas, and Phoenix, Arizona. In this paper, we report on first-year data from what will be a three-year longitudinal study, including 24 of an eventual 52 schools and about 1300 of what will be a sample of over 3000 children. Surveys prior to FAST confirm that Hispanic parents have less extensive parent-school networks compared to non-Hispanic Whites.

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Families and Schools Together: An experimental analysis of a parent-mediated multi-family group program for American Indian children


We evaluated a multi-family support group intervention program in elementary schools. Children were initially paired on the basis of five relevant matching variables, including teacher assessment of behavioral problems, and then randomly assigned to either ongoing school services (control) or the FAST program. Results are discussed in relation to future research on universal prevention programs.

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