Families and Schools Together: an experimental study of multi-family support groups for children at risk

J Sch Psychol. 2009 Aug;47(4):245-65. doi: 10.1016/j.jsp.2009.03.001. Epub 2009 Apr 16.


We evaluated a multi-family support group intervention program in elementary schools. Kindergarten through third-grade children at eight urban schools in a Midwestern university community were universally invited to participate in the Families and Schools Together (FAST) program, and made up half of the study participants; the other half were K-3 children identified by teachers as having behavioral problems and being at risk for referral to special education services. Children were initially paired on the basis of five relevant matching variables, including teacher assessment of behavioral problems, and then randomly assigned to either ongoing school services (control) or the FAST program. Parents and teachers completed pre-, post-, and 1-year follow-up assessments. Data were available and analyzed for 67 pairs. Immediate follow-up parent reports showed that FAST students declined less on a family adaptability measure relative to control group students. This effect was still present at the 1-year follow-up assessment. In addition, FAST parents reported statistically significant reductions in children's externalizing (aggressive) behaviors, as compared to the reports of control group parents. School district data showed descriptively fewer special-education referrals for FAST children (one case) as compared with control group children (four cases). Results are discussed in relation to future research on universal prevention programs.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Child
  • Child Behavior Disorders / prevention & control*
  • Child Behavior Disorders / psychology
  • Child Development
  • Child, Preschool
  • Family / psychology*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Risk Factors
  • Schools*
  • Self-Help Groups* / organization & administration
  • Social Support
  • Students / psychology*
  • United States