- Family-to-family interaction: FAST brings multiple families together in dynamic groups to build connections. These connections support families at home, in the school, and within their larger community.
- Learning by doing, not lecture: FAST is an experiential program, where families can learn and practice positive parenting and family behaviors, rooted in practices from child psychology, family therapy, and family stress theory, among others.
- Parent empowerment: Throughout the program, FAST team members respect and support parents as the leaders and decision-makers of their families. Team members utilize a specific technique to facilitate the session, allowing parents to give direction and instruction to their own family.
- Cultural adaptation: FAST Teams reflect the local culture, ethnicity, language, gender balance, and socioeconomic status of the families served. Up to 60% of FAST can and should be adapted to fit local priorities and needs.
- Holistic and systemic impact: By building social capital among families and within the existing social structures of schools and communities, FAST accrues benefits that extend beyond the effects of traditional categorical programs. For example, a community that implements four different programs to reduce school failure, truancy, delinquency, and drug addiction could accomplish the same outcomes with the FAST Program.
- One of the highest retention rates among similar programs: 80% of families who attend one FAST session will successfully complete the program.
The FAST Program is values-based. Every person involved in implementing FAST participates in demonstrating and upholding the below underlying values of the program.
- Parents are capable of being the primary teachers and nurturers for their own children.
- Families are central and critical to children’s educational performance.
- Stress and social isolation diminish parental effectiveness; social support increases parental effectiveness.
- Trusting relationships support the ability of families to access helping resources.
- 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.
- Schools should be welcoming to all families.
- 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.
- Collaboration across systems to address the needs of all children is a necessary and important process.
- Poverty, racism, and sexism adversely affect children in their development.
- All parents love their children and want a better life for them.
- Contact us to set up a time to speak with us about the details of the program. We can help with a timeline and plan for programming, provide details on start-up logistics, and talk through options for how you can find funding for FAST, if needed. Click here to view/download the FAST Funding Guide.
- Assemble your FAST Team with support from out office. We will provide more detail on the team members involved in running the program as well as the responsibilities and expectations for serving in this role.
- Receive your team training from one of our certified FAST Trainers. Our experienced trainers will work one-on-one with your site to provide training on the program model so your team is ready to implement the program with families. Trainers follow a Learn-Do-Review process to train teams around the first program cycle; once a team is certified they can run independently.
- Run your FAST Cycle with families gathering together once per week for 8-10 weeks (varies by level). Team members facilitate the weekly sessions, following an agenda of research-based activities. Throughout your first cycle, the trainer will provide ongoing support through site visits to help support the team in their work.
- Evaluate your program through pre- and post-program surveys completed by parents/caregivers, teachers, youth (for middle and high school), and team members. Our office provides a report to your site for each cycle which includes program outcomes, parent feedback and perspective, program details, and team input. The report can be shared with the team, the school, and funders as needed.
FASTWORKS provides a supportive environment where families can practice the positive skills they learned during the program and have a forum for working together to reach shared goals. It is designed to:
- unite families and schools to help children succeed;
- empower parents, teachers, children, and families;
- enhance a sense of community; and
- provide a network of knowledge, skills, and understanding.
By taking responsibility for FASTWORKS, parents can act as advocates for themselves and their children, and as leaders in their community and school. FASTWORKS, according to many parent graduates, is where they’re able to work to make their hopes and dreams become realities.
- Serve as a FAST team member for a program cycle.
- Attend the Training of Trainers conference.
- Complete an internship under the mentorship of a trainer supervisor, during which you will guide and evaluate a FAST Team and help prepare them to run a cycle.
Trainers are required to re-certify every three (3) years by attending Training of Trainers to maintain their certification.
Developing a local or “sponsored” trainer for your school can be an effective way to support program sustainability and to help grow and strengthen FAST programs in your community. A Sponsored Trainer is authorized by Families & Schools Together to conduct FAST trainings on behalf of your school or organization as needed for your community.
- Pairing long-standing experience with the latest research: The FAST Institute is based on over 30 years of experience in training and facilitating the FAST Program. The Institute builds on the values of the program while incorporating the latest research on family engagement, such as the Dual-Capacity Framework from Karen Mapp, as well as related research from Anne Henderson, Ann Ishimaru, Anthony Bryk, Gloria Ladson-Billings, Luis Moll, and many others.
- Focus on equity: One value of FAST is that all parents love their children and want a good life for them, but systemic barriers create environments that discourage engagement from marginalized families. Recognizing the value each family holds and moving away from “it’s always been done this way” to a more equitable, responsive approach can reduce disparities in the classroom and beyond.
- Blending of sociological, psychological, and educational theories: The institute incorporates social work theories such as Family Systems, Family Stress, and Social Capital, along with the Social Ecological Theory of Child Development, to bring context and understanding to how children interact with and are influenced by their family and community. It also discusses how this can manifest in children’s and families’ interactions with each other and the school.
- Practical, actionable take-aways: Sessions will provide actionable next steps that educators can take with them and apply in their classroom and in work with families. Discussion of research and theory is always paired with actionable solutions and tools.
The FAST Institute is designed to help schools and educators deepen their understanding of and practice in family engagement work through individualized coaching and professional development training. We offer a variety of sessions, which schools can elect to host as a series or individually, to best accommodate the busy schedules of their staff.
The institute is flexible to accommodate the needs of educators and can be tailored for teachers, administrators, or family engagement professionals. Virtual or in-person sessions are designed to run 60-90 minutes, and can be scheduled for a time that works best for your staff.
- Introduction to family engagement
- Creating a welcoming environment
- Engaging families virtually and other covid-era challenges
- Empowering families at parent-teacher conferences
- Strengthening classroom conditions for family engagement
- Family engagement, advocacy, and power sharing
- Bridging, race, class and culture and examining implicit bias
- Collaborating with the community
- Evaluating and sustaining family engagement practices
- Contact us to talk about how the institute can provide training and coaching for your educators and school staff. We can discuss your needs, what schedule works best for you, and create a customized plan to best meet those needs.
- For professional development sessions, identify the audience and schedule sessions (virtual) with the FAST Office. For coaching, identify your family engagement team (family engagement liaison/parent coordinator, teacher, administrator) and schedule coaching sessions with the FAST Office.
- Optional: Request a readiness assessment and evaluation support to direct your family engagement work and report outcomes, progress, and areas for improvement.