Families and Schools Together (FAST) is a multifamily group intervention designed for children and their families. Families meet weekly for 10 weeks and participate in 2-3 hour sessions that involve a series of carefully prescribed family, parent, and child activities designed to strengthen the parents’ authority in the family, improve parent-child interaction and communication, provide social support for the parents, and build relationships among families from the same school or community. The intervention is designed to engage parents with their children by reinforcing their role as leaders of their family, increasing social support available to them both from within their family and from the community, and providing new ways for them to communicate and interact with their children that interrupt coercive and negative patterns of interaction.
LHA implemented FAST in collaboration with Dr. Lyndee Knox, Dr. Nancy Guerra and the Southern California Center of Academic Excellence on Youth Violence Prevention in 2 communities in Santa Ana California. A total of 140 families participated in the program for this partnership.
Results of a randomized trial of the intervention with 200 families in the community showed impact on social support, overall parental sense of well-being and child problem-solving. These outcomes are particularly notable given the tremendous social changes and pressures many of our families experienced during intervention period (aggressive immigration enforcement and economic recession that had a heavy impact on the working poor in our communities).
Community response to the intervention has been very positive and parents shared that the program affected their relationship with all of their children, not just those in the target age range of 7 to 12. This was an unexpected outcome for us, and an encouraging one. LHA is currently looking for funding with the Southern California YVP Center to extend the program to several interested schools.