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Families and Schools Together (FAST) – American Indian Adaptation

Families and Schools Together (FAST)

The Families and Schools Together (FAST) program brings multiple families together once a week in dynamic after-school gatherings led by trained FAST Team guides to participate in evidence-based activities that enhance parenting skills and reduce family stress while encouraging family bonding.

"The FAST (Families and Schools Together) program was designed to improve academic and behavioral outcomes for at-risk children by targeting the child's whole family for the intervention. FAST is an 8-week program that uses family therapy principles to encourage positive familial bonds and greater parent involvement. This version of FAST was specially adapted for an American Indian population and included aspects of both the broader FAST program and culturally specific activities. The cultural adaptations were reviewed by members of the American Indian Language and Culture Education Board of Wisconsin. The program consists of eight, consecutive, weekly, 2.5 hour long sessions that include dinner and structured family activity and play led by a trained FAST staff. Up to ten families can participate in the sessions that encourage families to communicate their thoughts and feelings through play (such as charades or drawings) and through "turn-taking" discussions where each member of the family gets a chance to speak while the rest of the family listens. Each session also provides an hour for children to play together while parents meet in dyads and small groups to share their concerns and advice. Finally, each meeting provides 15 minutes of structured "special play time" for the target child and parent during which the two play together, separate from other members of the family. The child initiates play, and parents are instructed to repeat this one-on-one activity daily throughout the week as "homework." At the eighth session, families graduate from "Phase 1" and "Phase 2" begins. "Phase 2" is very similar to "Phase 1," though sessions occur monthly rather than weekly."

Retrieved from


Carol Goedken, CEO/Executive Director

(888) 629-2481


The California Evidence-Based Clearinghouse For Child Welfare rates the FAST model as a "3 - Promising Research Evidence" on its Scientific Rating Scale rating the published, peer-reviewed research available. For a list of studies, see

Results for the American Indian Adaptation were assessed in Kratochwill, T.R., McDonald, L., Levin, J.R., Young Bear-Tibbets, H., and Demaray, M.K. (2004). Families and Schools Together: an experimental analysis of a parent-mediated multi family group program for American Indian Children. Journal of School Psychology, 42, 359-383, as described on

“In the evaluation immediately following FAST graduation, students whose offered the FAST program scored five points lower on teacher observed aggressive behaviors and four points lower on parent observed withdrawn behaviors than their matched comparisons. By the one-year follow up, FAST students were rated as less withdrawn by their teachers (6.6 points less than the control group) and more academically competent (5.6 points more than the control group). Though the FAST students did improve, some of the gap could be attributed to the worsening of scores for the control group. No differences were observed between the FAST students and the control group on measures of reading and math, though teachers did rate FAST students as being more academically competent than their control group counterparts. Moreover, general parent school participation improved across all schools. The authors of the study concluded that parents and children alike enjoyed the program given the 80% graduation rate and positive sentiments expressed at follow up.

“This study used a very small sample. However, given the study’s goal to create a cultural adaptation of a national intervention for a small, at-risk, ethnic population a larger population may have been difficult to obtain.”


Tribally adapted
  • Child
  • Community
  • Family
  • Child perceived as problem by parents
  • Exposure to stress
  • Low self esteem
  • Parental temperament
  • Social isolation
  • Build trust and confidence in community
  • Community support when faced with challenges
  • Concrete support for parents
  • Family functioning
  • Involvement in positive activities
  • Parental resilience
  • Parental self-esteem
  • Positive school environment
  • Positive social connection and support
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Relational skills
  • Safe community focus
  • Self-efficacy
  • Self-regulation skills
  • Social and emotional competence
  • Strong parent/Child relationship
  • Access to services
  • Balance
  • Community involvement/participation/contribution
  • Connecting with cultural resources
  • Cultural community gatherings
  • Cultural identity/sense of belonging to cultural group
  • Cultural teachings
  • Ethnic pride/self-esteem
  • Expressing Native identity
  • Family commitment, safe and healthy relationships
  • Hope/looking forward/optimism
  • Increasing coping skills
  • Personal capacities
  • Support (family, friends, community)/interdependence