Improve Behavior Problems in Low-Income, African American Children in Urban New Orleans

Grant: Administration of Children and Families (ACYF) ABT: National Evaluation of Family Support Programs

Principal Investigators: Jean Layzer, Barbara Goodson, Cindy Creps, Alan Werner, Lawrence Bernstein

New Orleans. Prevention of Child Abuse: Ratings of at-risk, low-income, urban, African American children’s behavior, randomly assigned to FAST vs. control condition (N=400), using intent-to treat model, indicated FAST® Children reduced externalizing scores and increased social skills levels after 8 weeks and maintained after one year (parent ratings on SSRS and CBCL Ext.). Also, FAST Parents reported more volunteer work and more leadership in community than controls.ABT performed this randomized controlled trial in New Orleans to test the impact of FAST on children with behavior or academic problems.  Overall, there were 400 students and families, predominantly African-American, who participated in these trials.

This sample was split into two cohorts, which cycled through the experiment at different times.  Students were assigned to either the experimental group, which received eight weeks of FAST with the option of participating in FASTWORKS®, or the control group, which received weekly pamphlets on parenting.

Researchers collected data using primary caregiver interviews, teacher evaluations, and report cards administered pre-experiment, immediately post-experiment, and one year after the experiment had ended. Specifically, researchers were measuring children’s social activities and behaviors, academic progress, learning environment, and literacy activities. In addition, they also examined family environment and parenting, parent’s social support and connectedness, parent’s mental health, school-family connections, and community participation of parents.  Besides these measures, there was a qualitative evaluation of the implementation process at each school site to check for program integrity.

The results indicate that FAST did have a significantly positive impact on its participants. Parents in FAST rated their children’s behavior more positively, did more volunteer work within the school, and were more likely to be in a school leadership position one year after FAST ended.  However, there was no impact on behavior or academic performance as evaluated by teachers, nor was there a difference in family environment, or parenting outcomes.


FAST RCT ABT Research Associates Article

FAST RCT in New Orleans presented at the 60th American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy