FAST® Program

The FAST Program is an internationally acclaimed, evidence-based family engagement program that supports child well-being and learning readiness, empowers parents, and builds social capital so children can thrive. It is designed to:

  • Strengthen family relationships and increase cohesion
  • Engage parents more with the school and enable them to advocate for their children’s education
  • Connect families to other families and community resources to reduce isolation and stress

The program is run at a school or community organization and meets for weekly 2.5-hour sessions, which can be offered in-person or virtually, over an eight-week (or 10-week) cycle. A site will typically run two cycles per school year.

During these sessions, families eat a meal and play games together, parents discuss and bond over shared experiences, kids and youth make friends with their peers, and parents engage in one-on-one special play/conversation time with their children free from distraction.

A trained FAST Team of local parents, youth (for middle and high school levels only – see below), educators, and mental health and other community professionals facilitates the program and provides coaching and support to the participating families.

FAST® Levels Overview

Early Childhood (ECE)Elementary SchoolMiddle SchoolHigh School
Early Childhood Education (ECE) Level
For children aged 0-5 years
Program duration of 8 weeks
8 weekly family sessions + 2 years of monthly FASTWORKS® meetings led by parent graduates
Minimum of 5 team members required
(1) Mother Partner, (1) Father Partner, (1) Center Partner, and (2) Community Partners who are culturally and ethnically representative of the participating families
Elementary School LEvel
For children aged 4-10
Program duration of 8 weeks
8 weekly family sessions + 2 years of monthly FASTWORKS® meetings led by parent graduates
Minimum of 4 team members required
(1) Parent Partner, (1) School Partner, and (2) Community Partners who are culturally and ethnically representative of the participating families
Middle School Level
For children aged 10-14 years
Program duration of 10 weeks
4 weeks of youth group meetings during the school day prior to beginning family sessions + 10 weekly family sessions + 2 years of monthly FASTWORKS® meetings led by parent graduates
Minimum of 6 team members required
(1) Youth Partner, (1) Youth Advocate, (1) Parent Partner, (1) School Partner, and (2) Community Partners who are culturally and ethnically representative of the participating families
HIgh School Level
For children aged 14-18 years
Program duration of 8 weeks
3-4 weeks of youth group meetings during the school day prior to beginning family sessions + 8 weekly family sessions + 2 years of monthly FASTWORKS® meetings led by parent graduates
Minimum of 6 team members required (at least 50% youth)
(3) Youth Partners, (1) Parent Partner, (1) School Partner, and (1) Community Partner who are culturally and ethnically representative of the participating families

The program is available at the Early Childhood Education (ECE), Elementary School, Middle School, and High School levels to provide the tools needed to support each developmental milestone. While the core values of FAST remain the same for all levels, some activities are adjusted to develop and strengthen age-specific protective factors to meet the FAST Child’s needs.

Up to 60% of the program is also adaptable to meet the needs and priorities of diverse communities, cultures, and local circumstances.

If you are interested in starting a FAST Program in your community, contact us for more information. Explore our FAQs page to learn more.

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