The Power of FAST: An Overview

November 20, 2018

Families & Schools Together believes in a world where in every community, every child thrives.

The FAST Program was founded in 1988 by Dr. Lynn McDonald, Emeritus Researcher and Professor of Social Work, to support the family bonding necessary for children to succeed. Over 30 years, FAST has been implemented in 20 countries around the world.

Featuring a dynamic 2.5 hour session once a week for eight weeks, FAST brings families together for a scientifically structured agenda of evidence-based activities focused on supporting families by reducing family stress and encouraging family bonding.

Led by a trained FAST Team, parents are empowered to become more effective family leaders, families develop positive connections with schools and build social capital, and a supportive community comes together to foster children’s well-being and education. Read more about the outcomes of FAST.

After graduating from FAST, families continue to meet on a monthly basis for two years through FASTWORKS, a supplemental program led by FAST Parent Graduates. FASTWORKS further empowers parents to strengthen family relationships, act as their child’s advocate and become leaders in their community and school.

Wynona Sanders participated in several cycles of FAST with her family through The Family Center of Columbus. When Ms. Sanders moved to a new school district that did not offer FAST, she personally went to the school’s principal to establish a connection with The Family Center. When asked why it was so important for her to bring FAST to this new school, Ms. Sanders said, “We enjoyed the family time, the relationships that were built with other parents and the support, so we were interested in keeping it going.” Ms. Sanders went on to become the school’s first FAST Parent Partner and later became a Parent Coordinator. FAST also helped influence Ms. Sanders’ decision to return to school. Read more about Wynona Sanders and the Family Center of Columbus.

Monica Garcia was one of the first Parent Graduates of FAST at Albuquerque Public Schools. Ms. Garcia and her family were recruited for the program. Despite initial uncertainty, her family attended the first night – and later graduated. “My son really liked the time we got to spend together, and he made new friends, as well,” Ms. Garcia said. “For me, I got a chance to meet other parents, and realized that I wasn’t the only one dealing with challenges. I became very close with some of the parents, especially the Parent Partner. Our families are very close still to this day.” Read more about Monica Garcia and FAST at Albuquerque Public Schools.

For an additional overview of FAST, view our brochure and our logic model.