FAST® – Early Childhood Education Level reaches children ages 0-5, partnering with parents to strengthen the child’s social-emotional well-being and child mental health by enhancing relationships in their social ecological context to be safe, stable, and nurturing. These relationships will protect the young child from stress and increase resilience.

In a FAST Cycle, families meet for 8 weeks, followed by 2 years of monthly FASTWORKS® meetings. The weekly sessions follow a prescribed format of activities with demonstrated effectiveness. Throughout the session, families participate in a variety of activities as a family unit, to build family cohesion and reinforce family hierarchy. Parents and children also participate in separate peer activities to build social capital and relationships within their communities. Next, parents and children engage in one-on-one time, that varies for different ages/developmental levels. The evening concludes with activities that bring all the families together and reinforces reciprocity and ritual.

FAST Sessions are led by a team that empowers parents and connects families to each other, to the early childhood education (ECE) center, and to community. This collaborative team is culturally and ethnically representative of the families participating in the program, and it includes, at a minimum:

  • Two (2) Parent Partners (1 Mother Partner and 1 Father Partner)who have children who are not currently participating in FAST but attend the ECE at which FAST is being held. For FAST Programs that have completed one or more 8-week FAST Cycles, this role is replaced by FAST Graduate Parents;
  • One (1) Center Partner, someone who works at the Early Childhood Center who can be a representative of the ECE for families participating in the program; and
  • Two (2) Community Partnerswho are knowledgeable about local community resources, at least one of whom has expertise in mental health and emotional well-being or substance abuse prevention.