State and National Replication

Since its implementation in 1988, FAST has been funded by both the public and private sectors and has been recognized nationally for using an exemplary approach to building protective factors for at-risk youth. Federal funding has supported program development and research.

Two Statewide FAST Initiatives

Two State governments have funded and replicated FAST successfully. In 1990, Wisconsin passed State legislation to fund FAST for $1 million annually under an antidrug bill (AB 122) through the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI). Each year, school districts can apply for a FAST grant ranging from $20,000 to $70,000 a year. Schools must subcontract with community agencies. Wisconsin's FAST grants are renewable for 2 years, with an 80/20, and then 40/60, ratio of State/district funds. DPI studies of program sustainability show that 91 percent of the State-funded pilot sites reported plans to maintain the program with local budget money after the 3-year State grants ended. FAST trainings and evaluations were voluntarily purchased by school districts, and the trained sites showed statistically significant ( <0.01) improvements of a magnitude of change of 20 percent (reported by teachers) to 25 percent (reported by parents) on standardized instruments in child functioning, family cohesion, and lessening of social isolation (see tables 3 and 4).

Table 3

Table 4

In 1995, the State of California Department of Social Services, Office of Child Abuse and Neglect awarded $40 million over 5 years to 12 counties under a Juvenile Crime Prevention Initiative for a 5-part, family-based program to reduce juvenile violence and crime. FAST was one of the five mandated components of the statewide initiative in each California location. FAST training and evaluation were also included by the State government to ensure the quality of the program replication. Each of the 12 participating California counties spends a minimum of $70,000 annually on FAST. The results of the FAST training and evaluations using six separate, repeated measures, pretests and posttests, and instruments with established reliability and validity show a statistically significant (p<0.01) positive impact on participating children and families (see tables 5 and 6). As a result of the program's success, many of the California sites have used other funding sources to increase the number of FAST schools.

Table 5

Table 6

Corporate and Foundation Support

Corporate and private sector funding has contributed greatly to the wide dissemination and replication process of FAST:

  • United Way of America has identified FAST as one of 20 exemplary children and family programs nationally. Dane County, WI, United Way was the first funder of FAST, providing support for program development and implementation costs. United Way helps to fund many of the implementation costs of FAST programs nationally through their member community-based agencies.

  • The DeWitt-Wallace Reader's Digest Foundation has substantially funded ($2.4 million) the infrastructure for the national dissemination of FAST to increase parent involvement in schools. The foundation grant funds the training, evaluation, and technical assistance services, but not program implementations.

  • Kraft Corporation funded the development of a strategy for expanding FAST to many schools in the Madison, WI, Metropolitan School District (the home of FAST), citing it as an exemplary parent-involvement-in-schools program. This included training, evaluation, and implementation costs. In addition, Kraft is currently funding a statewide FAST initiative in Missouri through Caring Communities/Family Investment Trust. The grant enables collaborating State agencies to have certified FAST trainers. Eight pilot sites, strategically placed across the State, are receiving seed money for implementation and are being trained and evaluated through the FAST National Training Center.

National Organizations

In 1993, Family Service America (FSA), an international nonprofit association of child- and family-serving agencies, initiated a 5-year project to disseminate FAST throughout its membership structure with the support of a DeWitt-Wallace Reader's Digest Foundation grant. FSA membership comprised about 240 family counselors, who were usually funded by United Way to provide psychotherapy, support groups, and other mental health services. FSA, which became the Alliance for Children and Families in fall 1998, recommended FAST to its member agencies as the best parent involvement program in the United States and encouraged their participation. Family counseling agencies that are Alliance members and have an interest in prevention have initiated school collaborations and received training and evaluation through the Alliance to implement FAST in many parts of the United States. From 1993 to 1998, a total of 51 FSA/Alliance member agencies began replicating FAST. The Alliance for Children and Families replication was a positive experience for all concerned: the Alliance's provision of training and evaluation technical assistance through the FAST program's leader enhanced the local agency director's willingness to try something new. The local member agencies also benefited from the program by broadening their community-based outreach activities and increasing the range of funding sources for their programs. The Alliance/FAST initiative continues to provide training and evaluation technical assistance to Alliance members throughout the United States and Canada.

In 1998, Communities In Schools, Inc. (CIS), a national, nonprofit organization encompassing a network of State and local community-based CIS initiatives, embarked on a national replication of the FAST process. For more than 25 years, CIS has helped communities build local collaboratives that engage government, business, local and county agencies, school districts, nonprofit organizations, and families. CIS helps local communities develop a process that relocates existing services and resources into schools to help students and families succeed. The CIS collaborative brings together major stakeholders to create their own nonprofit agency that supports communitywide integrated planning and school-linked services to benefit children, youth, and families and to use community assets more effectively. There are 18 State CIS offices and more than 150 local CIS organizations in 30 States, Canada, and Ireland. CIS supports children in more than 1,000 schools in the United States. CIS considers FAST a major resource for family involvement and family strengthening that creates a school-based collaborative team and builds a long-term process that involves, empowers, and strengthens families. The CIS/FAST initiative enhances the CIS process with predictable and accountable outcomes. The CIS/FAST initiative is building a network of trainers who can use the CIS collaborative to build teams that bring FAST to local CIS school sites and that can engage school districts using FAST to explore the CIS process.

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Families and Schools Together: Building Relationships Juvenile Justice Bulletin   ·  November 1999