Families and Schools Together (FAST) was developed in 1988 by Dr Lynn McDonald, Professor of Social Work Research at Middlesex University, and has received numerous awards and been recognised as a leading evidence-based parenting programme in several national and international projects.
2008 National Academy for Parenting Programmes (NAPP, UK)
2009 National Registry of Effective Programmes (and Practice (NREPP, US)
2009 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA, US)
2010 United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC)
FAST programmes have a strong research foundation and aim to achieve positive outcomes for children and families through evidence-based practice. The key outcomes expected for FAST schools is to:
For more information on FAST in the UK, visit their website.
FAST is a multi-family group approach designed to build protective factors for children to increase their resilience and wellbeing. Weekly groups held after school are open to all families and participation is strictly voluntary. This community strengthening programme is based on the social ecological theory of child development, family systems theory, family stress theory, attachment theory, social learning theory and theories of adult education.
Groups are led by a trained, multi-agency team of professionals from health, education and social care, with parents from the local school as partners. The team must be culturally representative of the families being served in the groups.
FAST is a parent involvement programme for all children in a grade level at a school. The holistic, multi-systemic, relationship-building approach works to prevent bad outcomes for children. A local authority which invests in FAST should have reduced rates of school truancy and school failure, alcohol and drug abuse, youth delinquency and antisocial behaviour, child abuse and neglect, mental health problems, violence and aggression. The focus is on building social capital, social inclusion and promoting the strengths of a school, a local community and all the children and families who live there.
Primary FAST can be run with children between the ages of 3-8 years old and Secondary FAST is run with 1st year students supported by 4th year students as part of the FAST team.
The FAST programme runs after school for 8 weeks. The weekly sessions are 2.5 hours long, where a series of structured family activities take place. These include communication, listening, turn taking, community building, meal sharing, and relationship building.
A fully-trained FAST team coaches and supports parents through each activity. The FAST programme promotes parent empowerment, so all communication is directed through the parents.
A complete FAST team is trained together but then split into ‘hub teams’. A hub is a group of 8-10 whole families. Each hub team must have:
How many team members you need depends on how many hubs you intend to run. Our average hub numbers is 2-3 (20-30 families), but our largest number of hubs has been 6 with 59 families graduating.
Families graduate from the programme at the end of eight weeks and then participate in monthly follow-up meetings called FASTWORKS.
FAST welcomes new organisations or communities who would like to engage with FAST. For further information please contact Head of FAST UK, Bernadette Thomas.